Iron Peak
Day 2

I awoke at 4:40 am. Gwen was also awake. It was light in the tent. I went outside and took a few sunrise photos. The wind began to blow early in the morning and was flapping the tent now. Although the forecast low temperature was about 40 degrees the cold wind blowing across the snow turned the packed snow around our tent to ice. It was very slick.

For the next three hours the wind blew steadily. A three season tent with a big gap between the fly and ground would have made for a very cold tent. We were fine. We did have a fine view out the front of the tent to Mt. Stuart. This day there was barely a cloud in the sky. There was no haze so views to Mt. Adams, Rainier, the Goat Rocks, and all the Cascade Crest peaks were crystal clear. Day hikers usually arrive too late for these clear views. One prime benefit or camping on top. I got up for good at 7:45 am. Gwen a few minutes later. At that time the wind suddenly stopped blowing. What perfect timing. The sunset, sunrise, and crystal clear views more than made up for the effort of toting all that gear to the top of a mountain. The weather could not have cooperated better. Some shade for the steep ascent then clear sky for the top and the descent.

We aimed for a 10:00 am departure and almost made it. At 9:45 a hiker and skier couple went through our camp. They had an early start. They verified that the road is now snow free to the Iron Peak Trailhead on the NF Teanaway Road. The afternoon before Gwen saw three people way down the ridge. They did not come up to the summit. I heard them but did not see them. The two morning visitors and the Bill Peak scramble group were the only folks we saw in two days. Not bad for solitude on a trip that was never more than four miles from a trailhead.

We were packed up and heading down at 10:14 am. Just eight minutes later than we had started up the trail the day before. I considered glissading 400' down the steep route but there were several big rocks that have already melting out. We chose to return via our uphill route. Sun had been on the snow for over four hours and it was rapidly softening.  Down the ridge we went to the spot where we first reached the ridge top. That first very steep spot looked difficult. Gwen suggested just glissading straight down it. That was a very good idea. With ice axes out I sat down and slid straight down. The grade quickly eased and I had a fun ride down several hundred feet in a matter of seconds. Now that I had packed it down Gwen had a smoother and faster descent. From there we followed our own track all the way back.

Descending into upper Beverly Basin is a lot of fun. All the peaks are laid out in front of you. From the bottom of our glissade to the creek took only 18 minutes. That took us most of an hour on the way up. The soft snow was easy on our knees and made for a fast pace. Down at the creek it was already hot. Off went my pant legs and up went my sleeves. More sun screen and water and away we went. Gwen set a very steady but fast pace going down. We had put on microspikes for the ice around the tent. Mine were still on. Crossing an open snowfield I looked down and saw only one microspike. Oh damn! I was not going back up the mountain but I dropped my pack and figured I'd see if I could find it in ten minutes. Two minutes later there it was right in the tracks. One bit of good luck. We took one more stop at the spot by the creek just before going into the forest.

The forested section had firmer snow. Some ups and downs and those down logs to get over but it went by pretty fast. We reached Bean Creek at 12:40 pm. I grabbed the dive booties I had stashed after crossing the creek coming up. Now only about ten minutes from the car I planned to just cross in my boots. Gwen took off her boots and gaiters and put on her creek crossing shoes. The water was definitely higher than the day before. It was running very fast. If the channel was twice as wide it would have been easy. It was borderline dangerous. I went across first. The current was strong enough to push my leg as I lifted it to take another step. Only my poles gave me enough purchase to get across. It was knee deep for me. It was deeper for Gwen. She made it across fine.

We hiked down the old road and reached the trailhead at 12:55 pm. We took 5.5 hours to go up and 2:41 to come down. Definitely a faster pace. As we were getting ready to leave, Gwen realized that one of her gaiters was missing. She had it at the creek. Oh damn! I was not the only one to lose something this day. Reluctantly we hiked back up to Bean Creek hoping it fell off her pack after crossing the creek. No such luck. There it was on the other side. Gwen made three crossings of Bean Creek this day. Now we had the short hike back to the car again. Milkshakes in Cle Elum and a mostly fast drive home. West of the pass one lane was closed off but it only added a few minutes to the drive. Thankfully we hit that point early in the afternoon.

This was my sixth camp on Iron Peak and the conditions could hardly have been better. Gwen had here birthday summit camp and I had a great time too. While I don't do much snow camping, waking up on a mountain top is a whole lot of fun. I can definitely say a good time was had by all.

Front Door View
Campsite & Summit
Mt. Adams
Mt. Rainier
Hibox, Alta, Three Queens
Hawkins Close Up
Morning Light On Ridge
Fortune Peak
Mt. Stuart Close Up
Stuart Range
Bean & Navaho Peaks
Tent Site
Gwen & Stuart
Glissading Time
Bill Peak On Descent
Heading Down
Earlier Slide
Looking Back
More Glacier Lilies
Beverly Creek Break
Some Bare Trail
Bean Creek Is Higher
Spring Beauty
Back At The Trailhead
Crossing Bean Creek

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Iron Peak Report

Trips - 2017