On Monday I managed to steal a few hours from the crumbling weather window and visit the Mountain Loop highway. In 11 years living and climbing in Washington state, I had never even driven the Loop. I like to think that I am just keeping some nice surprises in store for myself. And after seeing the Chikamin up close for the first time last week, I think I have an itch to see new country.
I went with wildlife tracker and author Dave Moskowitz to ski Vesper peak. I only knew of it as a climbing destination, having always been curious to do the north face route. But a friend skied it this weekend and recommended it strongly. I took his beta and his map (which I promptly dropped in the crossing of the Stillaguamish river) and was glad for it.
Dave and I were both delighted with the straight-forward access and the decisive snow line: no patchy business or postholing, but a pleasant hike to a hanging valley where the snow began. We skinned up firm snow below the flanks of Sperry peak, and headed for a short boot to Hadley Pass. From there, Vesper reared up to the west. It proved closer than it looked, and before long we were standing on top, hunkered down in the shelter of a natural rock wind break.
The t-shirt weather turned abruptly to a chill wind, and after a few photos we were headed down, enjoying the seventh month of our glorious Cascades ski season. I fine day or half day tour, and it may be good for a little longer.