Dollar Lake Ice Hike 12/28

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Dollar Lake Ice Hike 12/28

Post by RayC » December 29th, 2013, 2:08 pm

After having done the Elk Cove Trail last week, I was itching to get above the bluff to Dollar Lake this week from a safe route. The road up to the Pinnacle Ridge Trailhead was clear although traction tires were nice to have due to the ice. The view of Mt. Hood at the trailhead definitely made this approach more fun that the Elk Cove trail!
Mt. Hood from the trailhead
Unlike the Elk Cove trail which follows an old roadbed for the first mile, this trail starts at higher elevation and has a nice tread from the start. It is beautiful to see the contrast between the Dollar Lake fire burn area to one side and intact forest on the other. The trail was very clear considering the extent of the fire and it looks like the forest service may have cut a fire lane here as well.
Thanks for keeping this trail clear forest service!
While the beginning of the trail had small patches of ice, soon I found myself following a track of a man and a dog during the approach to the Pinnacle. There was a nice viewpoint of Mt. Adams where the tracks apparently ended (or I lost them).
1st viewpoint - Mt Adams - where the tracks end
While the Elk Cove route was an extremely easy winter route, this route was easy-to-moderate. As soon as you reach the Pinnacle, simply head due south and follow the ridges and meadows uphill. Soon I reached views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams.
Pretty little maids
The Pinnacle Meadows were nice in the snow. While I carried snowshoes, only microspikes were needed. There was a layer of crust in the meadows which made for slow going.
Pinnacle Meadows
Continuing up it soon became apparent that I was climbing the bluff above Elk Cove. Staying in the forest helped keep the snow soft as there was ice in places - do not attempt this hike without proper traction! I eventually reached the top of the bluff and continued above it to find a nice lunch spot. I ended my hike when it began to get icy on the start of Barret Spur. I would definitely not recommend going up the spur without crampons, ropes, and climbing partners! While at "camp" I tested out my new stove/winter fireplace, which worked great.
Vergo stove gear test and lunch
The view all around was incredible. Here is the Barret Spur route.
Mt Hood and the Barret Spur route from the lunch spot
Here is Elk Cove from above (much better than looking at the Dollar Lake bluff from below!).
Elk Cove from the lunch spot
It looked like Portland and the Gorge were socked in.
Mt. Saint Helens and Lost Lake? Plus clouds covering the Gorge and Portland
Dollar Lake was pretty much iced over. I actually didn't even notice the lake until my descent, but I remember thinking "that would be a nice spot to camp"...I'd have been pretty wet...
Dollar Lake and Mt. Adams
Dollar Lake closeup
One more shot of Hood before I re-entered the forest.
Hood from the start of Barret Spur
Here is what the Pinnacle looks like from the "winter route" as I am going to call it. I have no idea where the official trail is in this section, but I know I wasn't on it as there should have been stream crossings and a traverse on the Timberline Trail to get to Dollar Lake.
The Pinnacle
Parting shot of Hood from the last section of trail.
Parting shot of Hood
As always, getting back to the trailhead felt as good as the hike itself! I missed by girls back home!!
Bad Selfie back at the Pinnacle Ridge Trailhead

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Re: Dollar Lake Ice Hike 12/28

Post by Splintercat » December 29th, 2013, 4:41 pm

Nice report, Ray! Welcome to the forum!

Tom :)

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Re: Dollar Lake Ice Hike 12/28

Post by raftingdog » December 30th, 2013, 6:29 am

photo on Barrett Spur looks like "boiler plate" hard ice....very difficult to self arrest if you fall....

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Re: Dollar Lake Ice Hike 12/28

Post by RayC » December 30th, 2013, 5:45 pm

Thanks Tom! I've been enjoying PH for the last few years, but finally felt I had something to contribute.

The ice on barret spur is extremely slippery. If you slip up there you are in a world of hurt as you would slide all the way down to Elk Cove. That is why I stopped where I did. I'm considering swapping out the microspikes for crampons just for the added safety. Fortuneately the route up to Dollar Lake was manageable...beyond that not recommended!

Any crampons/ice axe gear recommendations?

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Re: Dollar Lake Ice Hike 12/28

Post by kepPNW » December 30th, 2013, 6:05 pm

RayC wrote:Thanks Tom! I've been enjoying PH for the last few years, but finally felt I had something to contribute.
Glad to hear that. It sure sounds so! Look forward to reading more of your reports. Welcome... :)
Back on the trail, again...

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