Illumination Saddle -- 10/02/21

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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.

Snowcats positioned and ready to rumble.

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.

Looking south from the top of the Palmer lift

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.

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.

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.

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.

Looking across the Reid glacier to Yocum Ridge.

Down the Reid glacier and beyond.

Looking up from the saddle toward the summit.

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.

Still dry, dry, dry down lower...

Beautiful day, great conditions, and a bit of spicy at Illumination Saddle. Enjoy the shoulder season, folks!


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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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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.

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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.

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