Mount Logan Attempt, Logan's Run!

Story By: Jason Hummel

Sky and I fell asleep on the North Cascades Hwy, too tired to set off. How long our sleep lasted, I can’t say. Neither of us had a watch. Above us, clouds mixed with a mostly blue sky that had earlier been dashing our aspirations with rain. These were pushed away, leaving only clear skies, which demanded we wake up and start this foolishness.

The 3.5 miles to Easy Pass was our first challenge. After a few miles, the trail was lost with little fanfare. Through the trees further up the basin, snow could be seen clinging to the far side of the valley. As if to taunt us with it’s prospect, Slide Alder and rotten snow laughed hysterically at our attempts to wallow over towards it. No need to worry though, everything was in control. Smack! Sky’s binding breaks and his face gets a nice tattoo. With blood dripping down his face, he inquired, “So, how bad is it?”

“Not bad,” I insisted. Knowing the lie would make him feel better about it.

Later, in a mirror, he would utter, “I wonder if it will scar,” looking back at me, “It looks sort of like a lightening bolt, don’t you think?”

I have to say, it did, but as luck would have it, Sky’s binding continued to work and we weren’t forced to resort to any jimmy-rigging, an affair neither of us wanted to mess with.

Dawn eventually came with a colorful alpine glow followed by a splash of light, levitating our hopes for continued good weather. Among it’s assorted regalia, we topped out on Easy Pass with the procession continuing East. Logan could be seen far down the valley set apart from his brothers and sisters. Long ridges like bulging arms pushed back his smaller siblings, humbling me, knowing that I would soon be there.

After climbing snow up to Easy pass, we pulled our skins off, expecting to ski back down the opposite side. Our skis were as good as paper weights as only dirt, rock, and fields of flowers covered our desired ski run. Fifteen hundred feet of switchbacks led us to the valley floor and the headwaters of Fisher Creek where snow once again covered the ground. Instead of skiing, we chose to walk, which was not a method of choice, but of design. The avalanche slopes would spread snow here and there yet not enough to justify putting skis on. Post holing up to our waists left us questioning this logic.

Six or so miles and more elevation drop, eventually brought us to a creek, where the trail parted ways with us, which is usually the beginning of a short, fiery relationship. Given my love/hate kinship with most North Cascade schwacks, I found this one to be much more palpable and even enjoyable. Large crashing falls stair-stepped all of the way to the valley floor, originating from a lake that we would soon find ourselves at.

I'd sure like to be back here in winter.

We left our shoes and socks to dry on a rock before continuing beyond that lake. Instead of going south, we climbed to the southeast. Soon recognizing out error, we traversed beneath cliffs and backtracked via a high route to just under a ridge back towards the northwest, where we attempted to cross a col (as seen on page 312 in Becky Vol. 2, lower center) to enter the Banded Glacier. Unfortunately, this was premature, as now a closer look at the map indicated that we should have continued our traverse. Due to deep slush, the danger proved that today was not the day and a mere two thousand feet would have to be saved for another time.

Our turn around. We could have climbed, but the soft snow didn't warrent continuing.

Slushy turns next to our skin track.

From our high point of `7500-ft to the creek took mere moments, followed by several more next to the cool clear waters that flowed from whence we came. The thought of all of this effort weighted on my shoulders, but right decisions are not always easy. The feeling of being out here in the middle of nowhere, testing the limits of how far we can go is something of a thrill. You can’t escape the price. Like a bet on race horses, sometimes everything is perfect: the rider, the saddle, the horse. Other times, they appear that way and appearances can be deceiving. The nice day, the warm weather, and light packs weren't enough of an advantage.

Water supply.

We again skied by the lake and along the creek before picking up our shoes and dropping back down to the trail, beginning the long truck back to the car. The only thing of mention here would be the stars that lit up the night, so much in fact that my tired eyes mistook one of them for Sky’s headlamp. I kept swearing at it! The side of the trail wowed me back from my slumber, leaving me imagining my end, begun with one misstep, which would lead down the wet rock and snow-flattened grass back down the multiple switchbacks I had climbed up.

At the pass, Sky and I changed to skis and attempted to piece the best route to the valley bottom in the dark. We succeeded in limiting the suffering to maybe a half an hour. Once on the trail again, I took a nap, but kept waking to the sound of birds. I can’t say I got more than a few minutes. Further down, I changed to shoes and reached the car a bit after Sky, twenty odd hours after leaving. It was dawn before we ended our uncomfortable rest and began the long drive home. With our foolishness at an end, I did't think about getting home, but about when I could return. SUCCESS. LOGAN 2006.