September 26-28, 2008

Golden Horn (8366′)
Tower Mountain (8444′)

Golden Larch Hiking & Climbing Trip:  Upper Methow Mountains

——————– Summary ——————–

Starting Point: Porcupine Creek & Cutthroat Pass & Granite Pass & Lower Snowy Lake & Upper Snowy Lake  (hike)

Campsites: Upper Snowy Lake

Summit: Golden Horn  (climb via Southwest Slope—Southwest Gully;  descent via Northwest Gully—Southwest Slope)

Sidetrip: Lower Snowy Lake & Tower Basin   (hike & climb)

Summit: Tower Mountain (climb via West Ridge—Southwest Gully—West Face)

——————– Full Report ——————–

Here are some photos from a wonderful weekend in the beautiful Snowy Lakes area with Eileen, Beth, Lisa, and John A. This was my third trip with Lisa, who had rescued me from a snowy ditch on the Barclay Creek Road several years ago, and my first trip with John. We enjoyed their company greatly.

On Friday, we hiked in about 11 miles and set up camp in the grassy saddle above Upper Snowy Lake. Larch trees were just starting to turn gold, so this became known as “The Turning Larch Trip.” The night was clear, chilly, and surprisingly wind-free.

Sunset and Black Peak Photo By John

On Saturday, we awoke to high clouds and winds aloft. The clouds created some stunning light shows as we headed out early for Golden Horn.

Morning View Of Black Peak and Mt Hardy

The ascent went quickly to the granitic summit horn, which involved a very short Class 4 climb on frosty rock. We couldn’t stay long on the frigid summit.

Eileen, Lisa, and Beth On Golden Horn

A 35-foot rappel got us down the north side to where we could hike back to camp for lunch. We then headed out for Tower Mtn.

Heading For Tower Mountain

In contrast to Golden Horn, this mountain involves a fairly long, convoluted, and intriguing route to the summit. We got off course at one point by exiting the main (west) gully to early, then ending up on exposed snow-covered ledges. We eventually got ourselves righted, and the rest of the climb was pleasant Class 3 rock. The summit is adorned with a giant cairn but no register.

Group On Tower Summit

Snowy Lakes and Golden Horn From Tower Mountain

We returned to camp at sunset and later savored a long dinner under vividly starry skies.

On Sunday, we hiked out at a leisurely pace. The day turned out to be quite warm—almost summery. We estimated that, at this rate, it will be another week or two before the larches reach full color.

——————————- Photo Gallery ——————————-