Sacsters Jeff Herd, Gregg Huld, Shawn Donley, Doug Adair, and Kipp Bajaj were joined by Chemeketan Debra Marsh on what proved to be a lovely January morning ascent.
Our team maintained a moderate, but steady pace, gaining the top of the Palmer snow field in about 2.5 hours, just after the upper ski runs opened that morning. After a break and reflections upon the scrappy appearance of the snow-deprived hills to the south, the team decided to climb higher. The snow quality above Palmer was deep at times, though a well-defined boot-track was eventually found. Below Triangle Moraine, conditions were periodically icy and unpredictable. Doug and Debra managed these sections admirably using deft, calculated footwork. At ca. 9,300', our team decided to separate. Debra, Doug, Jeff, and Gregg were ready to descend-later I learned for the pub at Timberline lodge-while Shawn and I turned our attention upward.
The path to the summit was fairly well-defined. The sky overhead cleared and we had the sun to our backs for the remainder of our ascent. The bergschrund above the Hogsback was still a tad bit open-a fissure of approx. 8 inches in width and 3 to 4 feet in length. Conditions on the summit were remarkable and uncharacteristic for a winter day-light breeze of 4 to 5 mph, single-layer shirt temps. Shawn and I basked in the sun for about 20 minutes and then made our descent. We met one dedicated elder who had just made his 76th successful summit of the mountain. His age was probably about an equal number in years.
Since Shawn had towed his snow board with him to the base of Crater Rock, he opted to glide over to Illumination Saddle for an investigation of the upper Reid Glacier-grim prospects for an ascent on that side, at least for now. I descended the old fashion way, on foot.