Mary Peak

After ten days with no hiking I was ready for a good day on the trail. Gwen was interested in a trip to the Teanaway. I was up for that. With no recent reports for the area we planned to visit we were unsure of the conditions. We brought ice axes, microspikes, and snowshoes. Our plan was to head up Beverly Creek and aim for Iron or Bill Peak depending on conditions. We did not get a really early start and headed up the NF Teanaway Road after 9:00  am. There has not been much snow down low this winter. Driving to the Beverly Creek trailhead at 3600' should not be possible this early in the year. The first snow on the road was a little after the guard station. Patches of snow followed by more bare road. The snow was mostly bare in the tire tracks with in the middle and on the sides. Gwen's Subaru Outback had no trouble at all. This snow will be gone in a week or two.

We turned up the Beverly Creek Road still on dirt. The usual spot still has a long patch of snow. That is where the road turns left and drops to cross the creek. Again, no problem with the Outback. Beyond the creek the road was nearly bare to the trailhead. There was one van in the snow free parking lot when we arrived. It was very chilly in the mid 30s. By the time we were packed up it was 9:55 am. We took the ice axes an microspikes but left the snowshoes.

The old road/trail is bare up to Bean Creek. We did pack foot gear for fording Bean Creek. It should be very high from snow melt in Bean Creek Basin. Not this day. A little rock hopping and we made it across with dry feet. Now above 4000' we continued to have bare trail. The trail is in good shape. I think we only had to get across one tree down across the trail. At the open talus field there was a little bit of snow. A very little bit. Back in forest we were again on bare trail.

This continued all the way up the forest section of the route. When we came out of the trees there was a little snow but not much. Up the gentle switchbacks and it was all bare trail again. As we continued up the valley we could see snow down by the creek. We had none higher up. Bill then Teanaway Peaks came into view. The tops were in clouds then they were out in the open. The weather was forecast to turn to rain or snow in the afternoon but it seemed to be getting better. At about 4800' we began to hit snow. Patches at first then more consistent. The trail was still easy to find and we now had a set of boot prints in the snow.

We reached the junction with the trail to Fourth Creek Pass at about 12:00 pm. The footprints headed uphill towards Fourth Creek Pass. We chose Iron for our destination. There was about 1-2 feet of snow at the junction. Heading towards Beverly Creek the snow instantly became much deeper and softer. We were suddenly post holing up to our knees or more. There are no snow bridges left so crossing can be a chore with steep snow walls on both sides. We poked around for quite awhile before giving in to the fact that climbing all the way to Iron without snowshoes was nearly impossible. We retreated to the junction.

The choice now was to head up to the pass and if snow conditions allowed, head up the ridge to Mary Peak. Instead of the many short switchbacks of the summer trail our route was straight up. There were some bare spots and the snow was mostly a foot deep or less. It as hard enough to make for easy travel. Much easier than down near the creek. We ran into the earlier boot tracks off and on before reaching a point just above Fourth Creek Pass. The tracks led towards the ridge of Mary Peak so we followed them. As the slope steepened the snow became very hard. Microspikes would have been very useful if not for the bare rocky slope just above.

We made it onto the rock and scree and headed to our right. A small cliff forces you right or left. we chose the bare rocky ground right over the thin hard snow to the left. As we came around the cliff there was a bit of a boot path and easy wide ledges leading up to the top of the ridge. I have scrambled up this ridge many times in summer but seldom on snow. Once atop the ridge the grade was much gentler. The earlier person had small feet and was likely much lighter than me but that day the snow was very soft and they post holed much of the way. With the temperature in the mid 30s the snow was much firmer for us. We still post holed at times but it was not too bad.

The clear summits of the morning had given way to thick clouds above and below us. We were smack dab in the middle of it all. Visibility was minimal. Now that it was spring I finally had what felt like a winter scramble. The ridge went on far longer than I recalled. It is a pretty fast climb when snow free. With post holing in the snow we made much slower progress. No being able to see the summit did not help. We continued on as we rose above 6000' heading for the 6680' summit. It was after 2:00 pm when we rounded a bump, climbed to the top and found... a slight drop then another climb. I had us at 6400'. So close but still not there. For the first time I could see the ridge coming over from Earl Peak. The point going in and out of the clouds just ahead of us should have been the summit. Still about 250' to gain.

The day before Gwen had a long day working with a group cleaning out culverts to save a hiking access road from washing out. All this snow climbing had her justifiably worn out. I have been to the summit a number of times. The views would be zero. It was now 2:15 pm. We chose to head on back. It was hard to tell just how long it would take to reach the summit. Getting out before the weather worsened made sense. Heading down the ridge was much faster We were not looking forward to the last steep drop on scree, rock, and hard snow. As we dropped off the ridge I liked the look farther to our right. We were able to drop down on dirt and rocks and avoid the spot where we came up. In short order we were back at Fourth Creek Pass. It had been snowing on and off though not very hard. The trip back was not bad.

Down snow to the Beverly Creek trail. Some more post holing until we were off of snow for good. As we came down the valley we had to stop to put on jackets as the light snow began to fall harder and have some rain mixed in. Back at Bean Creek the afternoon water level was no higher. Back across with dry feet once again. We reached the parking lot at 4:50 pm. On the way out we headed up the NF Teanaway Road. Snow and bare road patches became mostly snow after a mile. At 1.5 miles the road appeared to be solid snow. Some folks had ventured farther but we had had enough.

Normally this valley is only accessible via snowmobile, skis, or by walking the snowy road in March. This year is much different. There is very little snow on south facing valleys below about 5000'. There is snow higher up and it was not nearly as compacted as one finds in a normal late spring. It might be best not to put the snowshoes away for the year yet. All in all, we had a great time. Winter conditions and a fun scramble almost to the top of Mary Peak. The peaks of the Teanaway will be open very early this year.

Parking Lot
Bean Creek
Talus Field
Snow Free Higher Up
Bill Peak
Teanaway Peak
Upper Basin
Onto Snow
At The Junction
Beverly Creek
Heading For Pass
Bare Ground
Iron Peak Ridge
Bill In The Clouds
Wide Open Lane
Heading Higher
Scrambling To Ridge
Onto The Ridge Top
Snag On Ridge
Climbing On Snow
Heading Down
Larch Trees
Minimal Visibility
Gwen On Ridge
Leaving Ridge
Larch Buds
Back On Dirt
Snowing Hard
Finally Some Color
More Color
Glacier Lily
Spring Beauty
Pine Trees
Recrossing Creek
New Growth
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2015