6242 Feet - Prominence 722 Feet
and The Hydrant
USGS Stevens Pass
April 16, 1999
Party: John Roper, Mitch Blanton, Grant Myers, Tom Rainey
from Tunnel Creek
This 6242' summit is an outstanding little peak, standing 2 miles immediately south of the big bend in HW 2 as it makes its last rise to Stevens Pass at Tunnel Creek. It's no K2 for sure, but in the right, bad conditions, it could be considered 7 grades below the famous Karakoram peak by chauvinistic locals. In the winter and spring, it appears as a double-corniced summit above Scenic Creek (just beyond Deception Creek) on HW 2.
Back in the 70's, the Bulgers did the first known winter climb of this peak from Scenic, the west end of what used to be the longest train tunnel in the Western Hemisphere. They parked at the railroad stop here and were amused by a dog that came out of nowhere and adopted the group, following close behind their snowshoe tracks all the way to the 6242' summit. The Bulgers enjoyed the canine companionship and called this peak, “Dog Mountain.”
The next winter, the Bulgers decided to do a snowshoe trip to a 6062' point above Murphy Lakes, SW of Peak 6242'. The friendly dog was nowhere to be found on this trip, so they dubbed this summit, “Dog Gone.” Latter-day Bulgers have noted that there are already too many Dog Mountains in Washington, including the popular one down by Columbia Gorge, and the one up the N Fk Snoqualmie, so the “K9” (canine) alternative was adopted.
Grant Myers (who kept saying that this was a very scenic peak), Mitch Blanton, Tom Rainey, and I parked at that big bend in HW 2 at Tunnel Creek and snowshoed up the road towards Hope Lake. At the Y, a quarter-mile past the powerlines, we headed downhill, crossed the SFk Tunnel Creek, then crossed the creek draining K9 to climb a nice old-growth north ridge of Point 5567 (The Hydrant) to its top. 3 hours.
After a half hour of refueling and peak-identifying here, we shuffled west along the King-Chelan County line to just before a 5200' saddle where we glissaded south to a 4900' basin and picked up the SE ridge of K9. We then punched up the soft spring snow to the summit.
The overwhelming scene here was south across Trapper Creek to a mass of summits with no names on the maps. Mountaineers call one of these prongs "Slippery Slab," and the Back Court enthusiasts dub one peak near Thunder Mountain, "Nimbus Mountain" (cloud of thunder), and the highest of the group, "Thor Peak" (god of thunder). More peaks than you want to hear about were identified by my three climbing partners, who are the best there are in this business.
Thor Peak (L) and Nimbus Peak (L)
We created little avalanches with our glissades back down to the 5200' saddle with The Hydrant, then continued our sitting glissades north down what Mitch called the Valley of Death, under the twin hanging cornices of K9.
K9 and the Valley of Death
Pausing for a moment at a point 2500 feet below the summit, we all agreed that the scene up this steep wintery cirque was as good as it gets in the mountains this time of year on a sunny day. 5.5 hours up (with stops), 2.1 hours down.