South Brother - FULL
June 1 to June 2, 2019
Coordinator: Ben Rosati
Summit Altitude: 6842 feet
Elevation Gain: 6042 feet
Round-trip Distance: 18 miles
Excursion Time: 48 hours (car-to-car)
Road conditions to the trailhead were easy, as it was maintained and paved the entire way there. Most car camped at the Lena Lake trailhead off Hamma Hamma Rd, a few went to the nearby campground, and a couple more met us in the morning. Thanks to some great planning by Ben on the front end, everyone was set and ready to go.
With only about a 6-mile trek to climbers’ camp, we set a leisure departure of 8 am from the trailhead. We slightly missed the mark, probably the dilemma of whether or not to approach in mountaineering boots or pack them in, sometimes the hardest decisions are at the trailhead. Minor delay - departed around 8:30 am. The Lena Lake trail begins climbing through a series of switchbacks which traverse through second growth, then transitioning into old growth fir and hemlock. Eventually the trail leveled out as we skirted to the west of Lena Lake, at which point we stumbled upon a sunny, rocky Lena Lake overlook. Moving along, the trail passed by some established camp areas and pit toilets. At the head of the lake, the trail crosses Lena Lake Creek and proceeds east until orienting north up East Lena Lake Creek.
The climbers trail was better established than some trips reports suggested. Following either a worn trail or survey tape, we found our way to a fork in the trail. Along one section of trail, the nice conditions faded out. After some quick scouting we decided to weave through and over/under down logs along the creeks gravel bar floodplain. This eventually hooked back up with a more established trail. On the way back, we’d realize sticking to the east side of the valley is the easier route. Following the decent trail, we came across the climber’s camp at the confluence of the East Lena Lake Creek and an unknown tributary.
The Seattle guys (Bob and Mike) met up with us at the climber’s camp. We chatted for the bit, took a dip in the creek, and ate dinner around 4:30-5. I think we solved Dan’s animal kingdom conundrum, or over complicated it. Talked about life and purpose. Stumbled off to bed around 6 pm more confused about life than ever before.
Summit push - 4:30 am. The 11 of us were up and feeling pretty good. With daylight already showing itself, it was pretty easy to get moving. Carl scouted a good length of trail the evening before, giving a head start into the day. A mile or so from camp and we reached the edge of an extensive burn area. A rough trail has been established, with some log hopping mixed in. Once at the true tree line, we encountered minimal snow coverage, luckily it was in all the right places. With mostly snow travel we ascended the obvious couloir until we hit a split. Thanks to some savvy scouting the route to the top was quickly established. Up a scree chute and over a short slabby pitch. On the summit! The views were glorious, all the major volcanos were visible from Baker to Helens.
We hungout for a bit and began our decent. Back through the scree, burn area, and into the trees. We broke camp and made a relatively quick, knee bangin trip back to the cars.
Well-earned Burgers and Beers in Olympia - the end.
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