Fortune Peak

Another wet Memorial Day weekend came to the northwest. I stayed home Sunday while Suzanne and Trail Pair hiked all day in the rain on Tiger Mountain. We all hoped for better weather by heading east on Monday even though the weekend crowds would all be coming home. The forecast for the Teanaway area was for "partly cloudy" skies and highs in the mid 50s. It had to be better than the two days of rain we had just endured. We met at 7:00 am in Issaquah and fit the four of us, Sadie the dog, and all our spring scrambling gear in Suzanne's Highlander.

A report the day before stated that the North Fork Teanaway Road was blocked by snow about 2 1/2 miles from the end. We saw virtually no snow until that point. Someone had made it across but the snow patch was pretty deep and soft. After a close look Bob and I thought it was not a good gamble to try passing it. Another guy did decide to give it a try. He made it half way and ground to a halt. I was impressed that he was able to back out of it. We parked and started hiking the bare road.

We narrowed our destination down to either Koppen Mountain or Fortune Peak. Fortune is higher with better views. It was also longer thanks to the road blockage. At the turnoff to DeRoux Campgrounds we chose to head on to Fortune. Suzanne and I went up Fortune back in October near the peak of the larch colors. The day still looked promising as there was only one small cloud in the sky ... over Fortune Peak.

I had been up Fortune four times previously and each trip was via a different route. Only once did I go down the same way I went up. Fortune allows for a host of possible ways up and down. A few small trees had been recently sawed and there was little snow on the road until almost the summer lot at the end. We passed the truck that had crossed the big snow patch. It stopped just before the lot for some reason. The snow near the end was not as bad as that patch where we stopped. The parking lot was mostly bare. Snow began right at the beginning of the trail. We saw very little bare except high on the peak.

Footprints went both up towards Longs Pass and Esmerelda Basin. We headed left on the Esmerelda Trail. The snow was firm but not frozen. There are lots of creek crossings and we had no idea how they would be. While the water was moderately high we managed to get across all of them with mostly dry feet. We missed the switchback where the new trail goes above the marshy meadows. Some old mining gear and puncheon road made it clear we were following the old trail. I had not been on it in more than a dozen years.

As we ascended in forest the south ridge became apparent. I have been down just west of the ridge several times. We chose to contour onto the nose and head up from there. It was now after 11:00 and we stopped for food and water. Esmerelda Peaks dominated the view to the south. We could also now see out to Fortune Pass. It was windy and cold where we stopped. As soon as we put on clothes and started moving again the wind died down, of course.

Our route up was on a mix of snow, dirt, and scree. For the most part footing was good. We brought snowshoes and crampons to be safe but did not use either. We seemed to be making steady progress but my watch said we were going very slow. It was about 4850' where we left the forest and the summit is at 7382'. That final 2500' came over a distance of only 1 1/3 miles. Steep but never overly steep. With about 500' to go I really started to feel lousy. Too much mid day sun on the south slope most likely. The views continued to improve with each step. More Teanaway Peaks came into view.

Suzanne moved off the snow onto dirt and I followed soon after. The snow near the top was too soft and not very deep. Postholes were occurring too often. Once on dirt the going was easier. We also now had views to the north and northeast. Mt. Stuart was close by. A look down also showed Ingalls Lake covered in snow with one small patch of blue water.

I ground out the last bit to the summit and sat down at last. The 360 degree view is outstanding. South Ingalls blocks due north and Stuart blocks northeast. Not that they are so bad to look at. From over 7300' the rest of the views are unimpeded. It was the first time up for Kolleen and Bob and the first time on snow for Suzanne. I think the others were somewhat impressed with the summit views. Some food and water had me feeling better. I again managed to mangle a number of summit photos but I still have some to post. The "partly cloudy" day turned out to be all bright sunshine.

All to soon we packed up to head down. We saw footprints just below Fortune heading over towards Ingalls. In fact there were two people coming down off South Ingalls. We also saw two skiers nearing the summit. We debated following their tracks down a little shorter route. Instead we chose to generally follow our own tracks. The others put on rain pants in hopes of finding some good glissade routes. After the first section on dirt we were back on snow.

Bob fell down and decided to stay there. This proved to be the first of a half dozen excellent glissades. Most were 200 - 300 vertical feet long. We slid, got up, and looked for the next glissade. Much fun was had as we slid down the mountain. We met one other skier in hiking mode and a single hiker who missed Longs Pass and ended up here. The last glissade down a gully took us back to the valley floor. I guess we glissaded about 2000' of the 2500' descent.

The rest of the way out was just a snow slog followed by a bare road walk. We took about 4 hours going up and 2:20 coming down. Thanks to the road walk it ended up being about 11 miles with 3800' gained. I love the view from Fortune and the wide variety of possible routes. Now I can add the great glissades it provides in the spring. I wouldn't mind sliding down the mountain again real soon.


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Photo Page 2

Trips - 2006