Gaining confidence on a scramble to Mount Angeles

It’s amazing the difference a rope can make.

I learned that over the weekend on a scramble with the Everett Mountaineers at Mount Angeles.

I was nervous about getting down a section of rock. But, with the safety net of a rope, I scrambled right down, no problem. I wasn’t as fast as the mountain goats in our group, but I went down without hesitation or fear. The rope offered me no physical help, it was only there in case I fell. A boost of confidence does excellent things for my scrambling skills.

The trip started early. Mount Angeles is at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. The trip leader picked me up at my house at 6 a.m. so we could head down and catch an early ferry out of Edmonds.

The ferry ride was gorgeous, as usual. The water was glassy smooth and we even saw a few porpoise on the ride over.

When we arrived at the park, we got a nice little surprise. Admission was free because it was the park’s 75th anniversary. Happy anniversary!

The trip started in the parking lot at Hurricane Ridge. We all looked a little absurd with our ice axes, helmets strapped to our packs and heavy boots walking along the paved path. Soon enough, though, we left the pavement and followed an excellent trail along the ridge toward Mount Angeles.

If you’re at Hurricane Ridge, I highly recommend this trail. It’s currently covered by a small bit of snow, but it won’t be for long. The snow is also easy enough to cross at this first part of the trail. Look at the maps at the visitor’s center to help you orient yourself.

The trail rolled along the ridge reaching a steep snow field. Depending upon preference, we either glissaded or walked down. Me, I chose to slide. The wet backside was worth the — rather bumpy — ride down.

After a bit more easy hiking, the trail branched off toward the summit and got more serious. Up, up, up. We eventually reached enough snow to warrant pulling out the ice axes.

Near the summit, we had some decisions to make. The more nimble of our party took a sporting route right up the ridge. The rest of us continued around the backside for an easier approach.

While this route was certainly easier, it still challenged me a lot. I appreciated the whole group’s patience with those of us who needed more time. Our group leader was excellent.

The last scramble to the summit was all on rock. I made it about 10 feet from the summit before I got stuck. I needed to make one step around a rock, while basically hugging it. It was a small step, but it was exposed and scary for me. I asked the trip leader to come back down. He was already at the summit. I was hoping he would give me a bit of advice or show me a better place to get a handhold.

Interestingly, as soon as he was standing near me, I was fine. I didn’t need any help. I took the step. It was easy and I was at the summit in seconds. He said I just needed moral support. It’s true.

As we were approaching the summit, the clouds rolled in. They blocked our view for awhile, but they were also gorgeous. And as they came and went, we got some great peakaboo views of the water and Vancouver Island. The clouds did eventually clear and give us great views.

I was absurdly proud of myself for making it to the top. I was just as proud of making it back down safely — even if I did need a rope.

It was fascinating to learn a bit about myself. I’ve always known that a large part of scrambling was mental, but knowing it and experiencing it are two different things.

I feel a lot more confident in my skills after this trip. It’s a good feeling.

The trip back to the parking lot was pleasant. The ridge view is, if anything, even better on the way back. We saw several of the resident deer along the trail, including a young buck with velvety antlers.

Many flowers are blooming in the area. If you’re looking for a trip for the upcoming holiday, Hurricane Ridge would be a great choice. Be sure to pack your camera.

More in Life

Ice queen: Local women’s hockey team founder is fearless

Leslie Tidball’s fearless competitive spirit keeps her going strong in ice hockey at 64 years old.

Sarita Viramontiz attempts a start off the blocks during an open house at the Granite Curling Club Sunday night in Seattle on February 18, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Granite Curling Club hosts open houses to teach the Olympic sport

With the 2018 Winter Games wrapping up, the club expects its informal classes to fill up quickly.

How to entice a wide range of winged friends to your yard

A Tulalip Bay couple shares how they encourage birds, bees and butterflies to visit their garden.

You can bird-proof your home to prevent window deaths

Studies estimate that billions of birds die after crashing into glass in the U.S. each year.

American horror: What can we do to prevent mass murder?

There isn’t a single cause or a single solution for deathly shootings like the one in Florida.

Making chores fun: Clean up the kitchen in five easy steps

“Zone cleaning” is to do one step at a time, which means that chores aren’t overwhelming.

Discovering the romance of Germany’s Black Forest

Avoid the tourist traps and immerse yourself in the region’s charming countryside.

Growing up: Some plants go through changes not unlike puberty

Arborvitae, junipers, spruce and pines, for example, exhibit juvenile and adult characteristics.

Decorated ceramic pig bares famous Wemyss Ware trademark

Very early flower-decorated pigs from Wemyss Ware have auctioned for over $30,000.

Most Read