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Silver Peak the really, really hard way (because the easy way is... well... easy)
posted by John : June 11, 2017


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moosefish photo

Mmm... Dewy


Take a mountain you've climbed many times before, a "meh" Spring day, and a snowed-in approach road. The smart climbers would go somewhere else, right? Good thing we're not "smart" climbers.

Instead of being smart, we decided Silver Peak would be the perfect destination for a mid-June morning hike. Rather than battle a snowy road to Windy Pass we drove to the freeway-level trailhead for Annette Lake. Easy to get to, but one of the most crowded trails around thanks to its low elevation and approachable trail.

We started early, of course, and made good time, of course. At the lake we briefly paused to look at the thawing ice, but then headed up a scratch of a trail to the east. Usually when I refer to something as a "scratch of a trail" it's actually a pretty decent trail. This was not a pretty decent trail. It was really loose, really steep, and disappeared into the loose rocks after only a few hundred feet of gain.

As bad as the trail was, the rocks were worse. The whole side of the mountain is loose scree. Not familiar with the term?

noun: an accumulation of loose stones or rocky debris lying on a slope or at the base of a hill or cliff

"Loose" is the operative word. With each step up and forward we sank about and inch and slid back six. It sucked. A lot. Thankfully, there were portions less loosely held together with dirt and higher there was snow. Crazy Eric chose to slog his way up the rocks while I kicked steps up the snow. Treen ran back and forth between us to ensure we were both doing ok.

1,000 feet later, atop the ridge we jumped on another unofficial trail that climbed to the peak itself. We've tried to TNAB this route, but it's too long to do in an evening and we stopped on the ridge. This time we pushed just a little harder and were able to make the summit.

Just like last time, the northeast basin had oodles of snow and looked delicious. But alas, we weren't smart enough to have figured a way down through that this time either. Instead, we took a few pics and started down the slope. At least the glissade was fast as far as the snow lasted. Then I plunge stepped down the scree like this:

We made it back down to Annette Lake in far less time than it took to climb. As soon as we rejoined the official trail we were confronted by several billion (not an exaggeration) hikers on their way in. Serious hikers, old hikers, young hikers, kids in flip flops, girls inappropriately dressed, boys inappropriately dressed, families, you name it there they were. They looked at us, bedraggled with gaiters and ice axes, and surely wondered what they had gotten themselves into. Later they might have wondered what the heck we had been doing.

I'm still wondering that myself. Yes, we got to experience isolation on Silver Peak and some pretty spectacular views, but did we really have to go the hard way?

Of course we did. When have we ever done it the easy way?

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