Almost Red

joe brady photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Trip Reporter Zephyr:

Pre-NAB’ing alone, I left the trailhead at 4:30 so that I would arrive near the summit about the same time as the main party.  The weather was dreary, not too cold, but drizzly rain and low clouds.
I did not go up the PCT, but took the old abandoned Commonwealth Basin trail.  It was fairly wet the first few miles in the brush, rain pants and gaiters were a necessity.
The “trail” crosses the creek early on and goes up the middle of the basin.  But the water was high and I didn’t want to wade. I chose to stay on the right side of the creek all the way to the junction with the PCT.  I still had to cross several creeks along that side coming from Kendall Ridge.
It was very challenging getting through the Basin. The creek was up and the snow was pretty deep in many places.  Made it across the creek and then proceeded west toward the ridge, but could not stay on trail–too much snow/debris and confusion.  I just headed for the ridge and eventually found my way up to the trail.  I would not have known or tried this but for my two trips last year–one to Red Pass around the Solstice, then the August trip to Red Mtn with TNAB.
The rain slackened as I made my way up the valley and got above the lower clouds along the ridge up towards the pass.
Yet another layer of cloud/fog hung over Red Mountain and surrounding peaks.  I could only see Guye and parts of Snoqualmie Mtn occasionally, same with the Kendall Ridge area.
I reached the level area before Red Pond around 6:00.  I wasn’t sure where to go up, so I climbed a steep snow field on the western slope as far as I could then ambled easterly toward the rocks until I found a boot path. I got pretty high and still no sign of TNAB.
Finally at 7:30’ish, I saw them down below arriving at the level area.  I hollered down and waved.  It was Zeusdaddy with the labs and some other guys.  They saw me and headed up.
I still kept climbing.  It was pretty rough going with the choss and wetness, then the fog.  I got very  close to the summit I believe.  I had to climb through some trees at one point.  Then another set of trees with a very steep snowfield on the left and a rocky ridge edge on the right.  The fog was fairly dense and it was pretty cold.  My hands locked up.  I tried the snowfield and realized immediately that a slip could be quick and very dangerous, so I turned back.  There were boot prints there–several/many days old.  But to do it would require traction, ice axe and maybe a belay.  None of which I had.
Soon I heard Zeusdaddy yelling up to me that they were turning back.  I hollered down at them to wait for me. We regrouped farther down with Onetwolaughs, International Joe, ewb, Orion, Andy, the labs and Zeusdaddy.  It was approaching 8:00 pm – So glad we got down in the failing light and deteriorating conditions.
We hustled down to the basin, crossed the creek and stopped at the junction with PCT.  There I chose to take the long way down via a solid trail rather than struggle through all the snow, water and post holes. Onetwolaughs and ewb joined me.  Zeusdaddy said he would have gone that that way too, but they needed to go back the way they came to make sure any trailers made it out. They had seen another TNABer in the lower basin on the way up. The rest of the guys went with him.
We climbed up that grade before the long switchback down to the trail head.  Then at the Alpine Lakes Wilderness sign, ewb ran on ahead.  Under the canopy, it got very dark and foggy at times.  Eventually Onetwolaughs and I arrived at the parking lot.  We were the very last cars to leave–so obviously everyone made it out.
I was much too tired and wet to join them at the PourHouse, so I drove home. Still it was great to see everyone on the trail–good spirits even in those conditions. ~~zephyr~~

Red Mountain Information:


Park at the main trail head and head up the PCT trail for 50 yards or so.  Look for unofficial boot path off to your left through brush.  Expect 1 or 2 creek crossings farther as you continue on the common wealth basin trail. The trail splits with the right branch heading back towards the PCT, but instead follow the signage towards Red Pass. After you make the jog to the left on the hillside while still on the trail (just above Red Pond) head directly up slope to the summit (don’t go to Red Pass at all). It is a freestyle up the 30° face for 800′ vertical, no real path, just meander your way up.

Distance & Elevation: 6 miles round trip and 2800′ gain

NOAA Weather: click here

NW forest parking pass is required at the TH


We’ll be taking off from the main PCT trailhead at Snoq Pass where you take the Alpental exit but then turn right on the small forest road near the highway, before you start heading very far towards Alpental. Park at the lower area with the clearly signed trail head.

**Bring your ‘brain buckets’ and remember to be cautious of rock fall on those below you**

2009 Red Mt TR: click here
2008 Red Mt TR: click here

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