|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
AN EARLY SEASON SUMMIT TO SAY THE LEAST, EARLY AMBITIONS TO SAY THE MOST. BONANZA PEAK IS A REAL ALPINE CHALLENGE, NOT ONLY IS THE MOUNTAIN A 9,511 FOOT CRUMBLING GRANITE MONSTER BUT GETTING THEIR IS A JOURNEY IN ITSELF -- 3 am wake up in Spokane WA coffee ON THE GO ,while grabbing my gear I headed out for a 3.5 hour drive to Lake Chelan WA After merely missing the Lady of the LAKE Jeff, Sam and I chuck our 45lbs packs to the ships first mate and head north up the lake for a 3 hour boat ride. With Summit butterflies we hardly gave the beauty of the Chelan area a notice.Finally arriving after multiple stops to load and unload people, we reached lucerne :a historic mining port just south OF Stehekin. Here we load an old school bus (make reservations in advance) which operates up and down a dirt mountain road transporting people to an old historic minning village now a church retreat for lutherans "HOLDEN VILLAGE" This place is cool, its like one of those kids camps in the movies but with a swiss alps feel to it. Being un-religous and having one thing on my mind, the people of the village were very friendly and said encouraging things to me and my compadres who were obviously there to climb.With all the intro to Holden and registering with the office, bus fee ($15ea), and waiting a half hour for our packs, I was ready to hit the trail to holden lake, a 3.5 mile uphill trek made easy by lots of switch backs;This is were you get your first glimpse of a few 8,000 ft peaks.Looking at Copper, fernow, sevenfingered Jack, I had my eyes set on just one peak....2.5 miles into the trail we hit snow, at around 4000 ft in June that is kind of wierd but Washington had a huge snowfall that year so it was expected. after post holing our way to Holden lake at the base of Bonanza's east face we studied the dozens of waterfalls pouring into the lake off the Mary Green glacier and snow covered granite peaks. the summits grasping pieces of clouds like milky halos resembling a heavenly atmoshere.4:30 pm we traversed over to the north east corner of the lake, here we debated. the plan was to haul trail up to holden pass which was another 1000+ elev gain, but gave us a head start on a quick summit and descent on the next day due to a slightly unsteady weather front that was known to hit that weekend. With that in mind the group still decided to stop short of the pass and bivy by the lake---STRIKE ONE--5 am and I'm up,after a fabulous night sleep in my marmot trestles mummy bag with a REi cotton liner I ate a freeze dried breakfast and soon realized that it wasnt 5am...IT WAS 10 to 7am! I slept in!!slept right through 2 alarms. And whats worse is my climbing buddies heard my alarm and continued to sleep"STRIKE 2 . Finally to the pass. 9:20 am way behind schedule and the cotton white clouds dripping with no sense of gravity; turning into dark cirrostratus clouds that begin to creep through the valley surrounding distant peaks Noon the group has arrived on the glacier and gets roped up, put on our crampons ( crampons!!theres no ice, the glacier is still covered with 3 feet of snow) I love glacier travel so the post holeing was not affecting me at first, but began seriously wearing down my stamina while trying to keep a moderate pace due to the unfashionably late start. After avoiding a few crevasses and getting the privledge to watch a small natural slab avalanche: we got to a snow bridge *completly covered and safe to travel on.. we all notice that the weather was quickly deteriorating; we crossed the snow bridge and and proceeded up an obvious snow thumb route. Came to a bergshrund. The wind began howling snow, sleet, rain, and the sky turned black within 15 mins. While we discussed the option of turning around and trying it again next year, gave an un soothing sickness that twisted all of our stomachs. After a quick evaluation of how much water we had and negotiated each mans energy level, we all came to the conclusive decision that the mountain will be there next year. We decided to turn around. It was a really exciting descent though: with the weather blowing us around, hitting us with ice, stinging when it slaps your face all while trying to scout for hidden crevasses and navigate our way down to a couple 800 ft glissades off the glacier (AWESOME).. We checked the gps tracking and realized we were only 858 ft from the summit. DANG! AFter A quick reppel off the lower part of the mountain we were back at camp-- dark wet camp, ate and soaked in our own self pity; with our stomachs full our minds were still hungry for something we wouldnt get. DAY 3 back to Holden, but today feels good, the sun on our bivies replenished our spirits and reminded all of us that we were someplace magical and that the opportunity to climb up Bonanza 8500 ft was an accomlishment on many different levels. On the trail back to Holden village, on the bus back to the lake on the boat back to Chelan, in the car back to Spokane; all I could think about is the RESPECT ;I have and the honor I feel for just one day in the MOUNTAINS!!!