Benson Miller and I had two super summits up Boomerang and Paperboy, both Home Court 100 summits within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This was my 20th and 21st Home Court summits, and Bensons, 10th and 11. Although the summits were super and we were proud of our accomplishments – the weather was absolutely miserable throughout the day.
Upon starting out of the car, the rain was an absolute downpour. We started on an old logging road which was covered in snow, melting out, and covered in overgrown slide alder. Our waterproof boots were wet within an hour, and our four layers of clothing, including GoreTex Pro shells, no longer kept us dry. Adding insult to injury, Benson and I were sweating up a storm and got wet from the inside out.
After a couple of hours, we reached the saddle that straddled both peaks. We thought we would get a reprieve from the pouring rains and driving wind, but no such luck. Under the canopy of the trees, we were sieged with a nonstop downstream of water, from accumulated rain on all the branches. The wind was blowing hard and cold, and I was soaked through four layers and was on my 2nd pair of gloves. I was concerned that if I did not warm up soon, we may not summit Boomerang, let alone Paperboy.
The saddle was at 4400 feet, and the top of Boomerang was another 800 feet up steep, snowy slopes. We blazed a path upwards, weaving in and out of older growth western hemlock trees, avoiding the tree wells, and kicking in steps with our crampons, and using our ice axes for security with each step up the steep, compact slope.
We made good time hitting the summit ridge, which was corniced, and in the limited visibility, traversed to the true summit for the obligatory summit selfie, and quickly made our way back down to the saddle where we stashed our snowshoes. 10 Homecourts for Benson! Congrats buddy!
Now feeling emboldened with our success at reaching the summit of Boomerang, we knew that Paperboy was within our grasp. It was only 600 feet of elevation gain to Paperboy in about 0.6 miles – less gain but about 3x the distance. In terms of climbing difficulty, distance, etc, this was tame compared to what I was climbing the past two weeks. The only issue was the cold and how soaking wet we were. When the wind picked up, the chill was biting. Fortunately, as we traversed to Paperboy, the rain ceased, and the wind subsided. Unlike the route up to Boomerang which wound its way through thickly forested with old-growth Hemlock, the route up to Paperboy was a pleasant ridge walk through interesting gnarled trees. The slopes to our East were steep but had nice run-outs to a lower layer of trees in the distance. The West was flanked by heavy cornices and sheer drop-offs. Visibility was at most 100 feet, so it was difficult to see the true exposure. We finally made the Paperboy summit, took a few goofy photos as usual, and ambled back in our tracks at the saddle, where we gathered our gear and prepared for our descent.
After reaching the saddle, we quickly connected to the logging road and donned our snowshoes. We decided to cut the switchbacks in the road, and made a direct descent to the final stretch down a steep slope, glissading in our snowshoes, and tramping through some dense slide alder and devils glove, unitl we hit the road. On the way down, we came across the tracks of a rather large bear.
Upon hitting the final stretch to the car, the skies began to clear a bit – too bad it did not happen while we were on the summits.
As we made our way to the car and out of the forest, the weather continued to improve and the skies continued to open up. As with most things in life, its all about timing…
Benson and I really enjoy the solitude of the North Fork of the Snoqualmie River. We have unfinished business with Dog Mountain and more Home Court 100 peaks to climb including Hancock’s Comb, Twin Peaks, Phelps, McClain, Goat, Canoe, Lennox and Morpheus to name a few. We will be back to bag these over the next couple of months.
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