On Mount Angeles

Posted by Ken Campbell September 30, 2008 0 Comment 623 views

It was a long time ago but I remember the day quite clearly. I was working for the Tacoma Metro Parks outdoor program and on this blustery winter day, I had driven a group of people from Tacoma to Hurricane Ridge. Some of them were going snowshoeing, others skiing. My job was simply to drive them there and back. My time, while each of them was off chasing his unique recreational muse, was my own. I had no responsibilities, but I did have a plan.

I had brought gear with me to do some climbing. More specifically, I was planning to climb Mount Angeles. It was a short hitchhike from the Hurricane Ridge visitor’s center to the Victor Pass trailhead. I had six hours before I was supposed to begin the drive back to T-town and the whole thing, I figured, probably wouldn’t take more than three.

Looking back on it now, the whole effort was doomed to fail, I just couldn’t see it at the time. The route was choked with heavy snow. Visibility was poor, and any views that could help me adjust my bearings or give me an insight into the best climbing line were completely obscured. Snow fell steadily throughout. I would have been much more comfortable had I stayed at Hurricane Ridge.

It is hard to know just where I turned around, but I have a feeling it was well below the summit. Hell, it was well short of the pass. I was still below treeline. I had climbed up some nameless gully, scrambling over icy holds and friable rock, until I had arrived at a 20-foot wall of stone that blocked any further progress. I looked half-heartedly for a route up the face, but with the dropping temperature and my turn-around time approaching, I didn’t look long.

I slid and scurried down the way I had come, hitched another ride back to Hurricane Ridge, and got the van opened up just as the first group returned. (It’s funny… I don’t remember anything about the people I had brought. I doubt they would remember me either.)

It was about that time, as we were getting ready to go, that the snow stopped falling, the skies turned blue and the rocky summit of Mount Angeles and the other peaks nearby stood out clearly against the azure background.

I haven’t tried it since then, but I bet the conditions are really good right now. I have Thursday off.

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