Wandering Around the Brothers

Cherry had never climbed the Brothers (6866) so we went over to tag them weekend before last. I've been up a couple of times and know the route pretty well, or so I thought.

Our Saturday morning alpine start saw us on the road at, ahem, 1pm, and after enjoying a nice long wait in the Edmonds ferry line, managed to start up the Lake Lena trail head at about 5pm. It's really much cooler that way and you don't have to fight the crowds.

We ground out the Lake Lena trail pretty fast and on through the Valley of Silent Men which was damn beautiful. The rock on the olympic range is mostly crap but the forests are just stunning. We camped above the climber's camp at 3400' in the first meadow at about 9pm just as it was getting dark. We made a tent platform at the base of the small waterfall if you want to use it.

The next morning the problems began. A huge avalanche came down since I was last there and has blasted all the trees over a 1/2 mile stretch of what used to be the climbers trail from the stream up to the start of the climb. The old trail is unpassable. We bushwhacked up 700 vertical feet before cliffing out and coming all the way back down to camp. We were sitting there discouraged and not quite knowing what to do when a nice couple came trotting down the mountain having summitted early that morning. They had camped high, at 5500, and been up and down with little trouble. Seems the rangers (or someone) has stared a new climbers path through the woods marked with very teency weency pieces of red tape.

So we launched back into the woods, found the taped trail, and made to the base of the climb. Coool, I thought, it's cake from here. Wrong again. We (I) took a wrong turn somewhere and went up the wrong damn gully. There's one rule to remember when climbing the Brothers: It's Easy. If you ever find yourself on something hard, you are most definitely Off Route. And do not believe all the cairns. It seems that the first thing people who are lost up there want to do is build a nice big cairn to mark the way for others to follow them into lostness.

Of course being poisioned by boy genes I couldn't admit that I was waaay lost until we were strung out on some pretty sketcy traverses with a whole lot of air under out butts. And then of course the clouds closed in and it started blowing rain up the mountain. Cherry sensibly pulled the plug at 3:00 at 6,500', 300 feet short of the summit, with no clear route up that we had any confidece we could downclimb without a rope. Down we went. Decent was uneventfull (other than getting lost again for a while) and we made the car just before nightfall.