Illumination Saddle -- 10/02/21

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smithsummit
Posts: 46
Joined: July 14th, 2020, 1:42 pm

Illumination Saddle -- 10/02/21

Post by smithsummit » October 3rd, 2021, 12:08 pm

HI All,

Yesterday morning I headed up to Illumination Saddle to see the remainders of this week's snow and hopefully get onto the saddle proper for the view across Reid Glacier to Yocum Ridge.

Not a lot of traffic yet on the way up. Beautiful skies, cool temps, and a nice breeze. Boded well for conditions above the Palmer.
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Snowcats positioned and ready to rumble.
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Closing in on the top of the Palmer lift. Not sure there was a continuous line of snow for its length. Both it and the Magic Mile lift were running without chairs.
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Looking south from the top of the Palmer lift
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Turning toward Illumination Rock. My route for the next bit was straight ahead; aiming at the center of Illumination Rock and staying just below the slightly steeper angled upper slope.
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Time to evaluate conditions. From here to the saddle is subject to rock fall when there's low snow and from avalanches when there's significant snow. Still had cool temps and a decent bit of wind. Snow was frozen hard, no sign of softening yet. No sign of anything coming down from above. Put on my crampons and moved quickly.
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Arriving at the base of Illumination Saddle. This is looking directly up to the saddle's low point. Going up the steep boulder-studded sandbox did not seem like a good idea.
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Following the snowdrift toward the rock itself seemed like a better bet. Left my poles and headed up with an ice axe. My tracks up and down are visible; traversing to the right for the crest. Thought about heading for the base of the rock, but that would have put me above a steep/cliffy area and the last bit looked super loose.
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Looking across the Reid glacier to Yocum Ridge.
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Down the Reid glacier and beyond.
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Looking up from the saddle toward the summit.
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Back down at Silcox Hut. I didn't encounter another party until most of the way back down the Palmer. By the time I got to Silcox there was a steady stream of people coming up. Saw one other party of two headed up with axes/crampons. Maybe planning to do a little self arrest practice? Also met one really nice guy who'd just moved to Oregon and was on his first outing in the PNW. Wish him many happy hikes.
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Still dry, dry, dry down lower...
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Beautiful day, great conditions, and a bit of spicy at Illumination Saddle. Enjoy the shoulder season, folks!

--Rob

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Chip Down
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Re: Illumination Saddle -- 10/02/21

Post by Chip Down » October 4th, 2021, 4:36 pm

Yep, that saddle is tough to get to when bare, just the last dozen feet or so. And the rockfall risk makes it even more sketchy. Still looked like a fun day. Was that your first attempt, or a revisit?

There's some fun exploring to be had on the lower side of Illumination Rock as well, makes a nice Plan B. Great glacier views.

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adamschneider
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Re: Illumination Saddle -- 10/02/21

Post by adamschneider » October 4th, 2021, 9:20 pm

I went up to Illumination Saddle in October a few years back, but we didn't bother with Palmer; we just went pretty much due north from the lodge, mostly on snow.

Illumination Saddle map.jpg

...but I guess, looking at the map, we did come pretty close to both Palmer and Silcox Hut.

smithsummit
Posts: 46
Joined: July 14th, 2020, 1:42 pm

Re: Illumination Saddle -- 10/02/21

Post by smithsummit » October 5th, 2021, 6:13 pm

Chip: When I was climbing I passed by the saddle a fair bit, but never had occasion to be there in the lean season. I really wanted the view across the Reid headwall past Leuthold and on down to the toe of Yocum Ridge.

adamschneider: Thought about the route you took, but given the lack of snow... wanted to minimize time in the bowling alley.

Looking uphill from the snow bank at the saddle when I stopped just long enough to deploy my ice axe. My cell phone has a super wide angle lens and the slope above is only a few dozen yards away. Definitely wanted to be out of there before things softened up and headed back down no more than 20 minutes after I arrived.
up_from_saddle.jpg

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