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Rampart Ridge from Gold Creek
posted by John : March 9, 2008

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Up, up, and more up

Somehow I wound up with back to back daytime snowshoe adventures on the calendar. For the first I recruited Jeremy and Daryl to go climb something tall. The weather wasn't the greatest, but the avalanche danger wasn't more than moderate so we opted for the ridge to the east of Gold Creek Pond.

Technically, it's part of Rampart Ridge, but Rampart Ridge to me is farther north from Lake Lillian to the true high point and the cliffs below it. We weren't going to try that as we'd need way more than a day to get up there and the conditions didn't seem quite right.

Our plan was to head up through a clearing to a local high point on the ridge pretty much due east of Gold Creek Pond.

We started along the too-familiar Gold Creek trail. We were out of place with all our extra gear compared to the families out for a low-elevation saunter to the Pond. We split off the family trail at the second road heading up to the northeast.

A short while later we found a clearing and started up in earnest. The route was not direct. We tried to stay in the trees as much as possible and wound up following a gully up the hill. Under the trees the snow was firm and crusty. In the open it was soft. I think we'd have been happy to take off our snowshoes under the trees, but since we alternated between the two conditions we kept them on.

Higher up the forest grew less dense and the trees larger. We followed an almost direct line straight up the hill that made for a quick ascent if a tiring one.

We arrived at a bench and called it quits. We had great views of the mountains surrounding us and saw little benefit to continuing up. We were a ways off from gaining the ridge itself and even if we did we'd be in the trees again with no views.

Gold Creek Pond was tiny 1,600 feet below us and we could see way up the valley to the north. Across the valley we could see Kendall Peak and the whole line of mountains there. We could also see the Snoqualmie Pass ski area and the sledding hill where I first saw this area. (No pictures of the developed areas. Blech.)

The way down promised to be fun. Snowshoes weren't gong to be terribly useful on the steep slope heading down (kind of like short skis that would grab on occasion), but you had to keep them on or you'd sink up to your waist. Jeremy and I decided we'd glissade down much of the way using axes to slow our descent, but Daryl didn't have an axe so he tried to walk down. In the end he took his snowshoes off and glissaded, too. By the time we were down in the trees again we were thoroughly frozen and I discovered my rain pants really weren't doing much in the waterproofing department.

Down in the trees there was a blur of white on white and then a rabbit sitting perfectly still. I was able to get pretty close to it for pictures before it broke and sprinted out.

The total climb was 1,600 feet with a round trip of 2.6 miles.

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