Mt. Snoqualmie - Enigma Gully
Mt. Snoqualmie has many enigmas: a deceptive looking "strait up"
route from Alpental, a hidden North wall that is huge and very steep,
and a crafty gully somewhere in the heart of the North face!
Picture by Phil Fortier, aka "hardman phil"
It was finals weekend, the weather was too nice to be sitting at home,
so I awoke at 3:30 and headed off to find this enigma, alone! It was
June 4th and there was no snow at the pass, "yikes!" I though,
is there going to be any snow in the gully?? Sure enough, after several
hundred verticle of brush, then some steep snowy forest, I came upon
the ridge top overlooking the north face. Such a grand wall of such
chossy rock! What a shame! From here, secret route finding ensued to
the base of the gully that "you can't see until you've past it,"
says my friend Phil.
After stopping for
a quick bite to eat and revel at the beauty of the middle-fork mountains,
I headed up the Enigma! The gully is probably 1,000 to 1,500 feet long,
and varies in steepness from roughly 30 to 45 degrees. The steep gully
walls, and the cracks running up them were quite impressive. In about
an hour I topped out on the gully, and followed some low angled snow
up to the summit. First one there, yeah! After taking in the views and
wondering how everyone else was doing on their "big" climbs
that weekend, I began my descent of the South-West-ish ridge. The ski
potential up here is awesome and I was able to foot glissade for quite
a ways down the ridge. This is where the descent got interesting. Working
my way out of the snow, and into dirt, trees and cliffs, I realized
why everyone says "There isn't any good way down into the Alpental
Valley." I was able to pick up a deer track heading back uphill
towards a waterfall. So I thought, deer are smart right? So I followed
the tracks for a while and found a route that skirted around the cliffs
on steep snow! Thanks Bamby! From there I struggled down through massive
amount of slide alder, devil's club and general brush for a thousand
feet or so until I made it down to the parking lot. >Emerging
at 10 am, the "normal" folks of the world were just leaving
the trail head. Poor suckers, they are wasting their whole day in the
mountains while I can go home and study! ugh.
If you're just looking from some nice gully climbing, or a route finding
challenge involving almost exclusively off-trail travel, this is the
route for you! I would recomend going in winter to late spring. Just
remember, he later in spring you get, the more brush its going to be!