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Snowshoe Peak - Cabinet Mountains, MT
August 13, 2005
Snowshoe Peak is one that I've wanted to do for several years now. I had planned on hiking up the North Fork Bull River to Snowshoe Lake then taking the relatively easy route up the west ridge to the summit. Couldn't get any takers for the bush-whacking to the lake though so I decided to take up an offer from Ken Billing to join him and summit via the NE ridge. I picked up Brian Fontaine after work and we headed up to the Leigh Lake TH where we set up camp. Ken, Brian H., Brian H's friend Tanya, and another Brian (hereafter known as Brian 'X') arrived about 10:30. They opted to hike in using headlamps and set up camp at the lake. This was a busy TH and I didn't get much sleep. 3:45am arrived and I was still beat. We grabbed a quick bite and some coffee then headed up the steep trail to meet the rest of the group. The climb started out through some very wet brush and my socks were soaked by the time we finally reached the sun-dried bear grass slopes that led to the ridge. It took a bit of navigation here as there were several sets of cliff bands that had to be climbed. With some switchbacking and 3rd class scrambling, we made the ridge at about 9:30. I removed my socks and liners to let them soak in the sun for a bit. The summit looks deceptively close from the low saddle in the ridge but it took 3 more hours of 4th class scrambling to finally reach it. Blackwell Glacier was in pretty good condition so we hopped onto it near the top of the ridge and made good time bypassing several hard sections of rock. The last bit to the summit was a series of slabby and slippery steppes. From the summit, the views were outstanding. Hardly any haze and clear blue skies. We retreated back to the TH after about an hour and arrived at the truck somewhere around 6:30. Rough day but well worth the pain. Several trailhead burgers later and we were on our way back to Spokane arriving around 11ish. Great trip - highly recommended.

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