Headlee Pass

 

Sunday, November 24, 2002: Buddy, Harley, and decided to hike up to Headlee pass.

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PICT0162: Leaving the trailhead at 8AM.  Elevation: 2100 FASL.

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PICT0163: About 800 vertical feet above the trailhead, we saw our first view of Sperry Peak, an impressive cliffy, rocky mountain.  Summit about 6000 FASL.

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PICT0166: Buddy at Headlee pass.  4600 FASL.

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PICT0167: Looking NE at the valley we had just climbed up from.

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PICT0168: From the pass, looking up at Sperry Peak.

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PICT0169: Looking NE at Glacier Peak.

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PICT0171: Looking SE at Morning Star Peak.

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PICT0172: Looking NE at Mount Pugh.

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PICT0174: Here's Buddy at the pass.

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PICT0175: We "hung out" for awhile in the sun on the SW side of the pass.  Vesper Peak from Headlee pass.

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PICT0177: Buddy and Harley playing in the snow.

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PICT0178: Buddy, posing for a picture.

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PICT0179: Harley, hanging out on the SE side of Headlee pass.

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PICT0180: The dogs near the sheer rock walls of Sperry Peak.

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PICT0181: The dogs at the pass.  Morning Star Peak in the background.

The final 400 vertical feet leading up to the summit are very steep (I'm guessing 45+ degree inclination).  On this day, the ground was covered in snow.  The snow was *very* hard (concrete) and very slippery.  This valley and this chute are well shaded from the southern sky.  I was in the area from 10AM to 3PM and I never saw the area receive any sun.  I'm guessing this had something to do with the hard snow conditions.

I had to bang my boot into the snow 30 times just to make at 2" deep step to support my weight.  Fortunately there were steps from another day frozen in place up most of the 400 vertical feet.

We managed to get up just fine.  However, the descent was much tougher.  It took around an hour to descend just those 400 vertical feet.  At one point I fell and could not self arrest.  The snow was just too hard.  I eventually hit some rocks and came to a stop.  I received some cuts and bruises, but fortunately no serious injuries.  I will never attempt an ascent or descent on snow conditions like that in the future unless I bring crampons and ice axes.  Yes, ice axes plural...I think this slope warranted using one ice axe in each hand. =)

Later, I read in an article that when there is snow, "only mountaineers with ice axes and climbing skills should continue on".  Yeah...  http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/getaways/082798/hike27.html

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PICT0184: We're heading down the mountain now.  In this picture, above and to the right of Buddy's head, you can see the steep slippery slope leading up to the pass.

On the way down, I met Diane Brooks and family.  Diane is a reporter for the Seattle Times and she was writing an article on Headlee Pass for the paper.  She didn't have enough time to get to the pass and back down before dark, so she interviewed me.  The dogs and I were mentioned in her article.  In addition, the paper published my picture (PICT0163).  That was fun.  Hopefully I will run into more reporters on the trails in the future. =)

Click on this link to see the web version of the newspaper article.