I had been meaning to hike up here for sunrise for quite some time. By mid last week, however, I had exhausted my list of companions, so I went alone. Weather was supposed to be good; Clouds clearing off and temps around 20 with winds gusting to 30mph. I was also curious about some of my new winter gear and how it would perform. So off I went to Heather Meadows parking lot. No recent snowfall, and the snow on the ground was crunchy, so I went with my Sorels and no snowshoes. My other gear choices:
- Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 tent – I knew I would need something freestanding but didn’t think I would need my Mountain Hardwear Trango Assault.
- Zpacks 10 degree down bag and Thermarest Xlite Xtherm pad.
- Arcteryx Naos 55 pack
- Mountain Hardwear Phantom and Ghost Whisperer Jackets with Transition Windstopper underneath.
- Arcteryx Windstopper shell pants with Windstopper tights underneath.
- Delorme inReach satellite beacon
- Sony a7r camera and Zeiss 21, 50 and 100-300 lenses with Gitzo 0540 tripod.
Climb to Artists Point was uneventful, except maybe wishing they would open the road up with so little snow. I’ve always seen the WSDOT as being a flexible organization. 🙂
At the top, the wind came on strong. I tried pitching my tent in two spots and it blew itself inside out. I lashed it to a tree while I looked for a better location. Scouting around, I noticed a group of tents near the parking lot which was under several feet of snow. I went back to gather my stuff to join them. It turns out that seeing me, the guys camped there set out to come see if I was ok. We met in the middle. They helped me with my tent aka wind sail and we camped together against a bluff that blocked the wind sort of. They had used a sled to bring up an ample supply of Coors which we dove into.
With me in it, my tent was bending 20 degrees or so in the wind, but I eventually fell asleep. I was warm enough, figuring the wind chill at about 0 degrees.
I got up early and got some nice shots of Baker with alpenglow coming on at sunrise. I went back and thanked my new compadres and packed up. As I was heading down, scores of skiers were heading up. The new day looked spectacular.