| Turner Peak (near Mt. Yale)
Turner Peak (13,233)
From Denny Creek TH: 7.5 mi, 3200 ft
Partners: Dwight, Dominic, John K. & Ryan K.
Turner Peak is located about 4 miles southwest of Mt. Yale. It has been on my list of possible winter hikes for a while due to its proximity to the Cottonwood Pass Road. It can be easily accessed from the Denny Creek TH, the point to which this road is plowed in winter. In summer you could shorten the hike considerably by driving further, but that would almost seem like cheating!
We got going shortly before 8 under cloudy skies. The forecast was calling for snow and moderate winds. The Cottonwood Pass Road is groomed for snowmobiling and was very easy going. We had planned on climbing Turner's southwest ridge as we'd heard from Ken that it was kind of interesting, but alas, we walked too far along the road before we realized that we had passed it! We settled for a route up the south slopes. After 2.5 miles (1 mile too far for an exit to the southwest ridge) we left the road, strapped on our snowshoes and began a period of ridiculous trailbreaking. The snow was extremely rotten and shifts were short. Higher up, several bare patches were mixed in, forcing us to climb steep dirt and rock slopes with snowshoes. Near treeline as the terrain began to be more exposed to the wind the snow became more solid. Dwight wasn't feeling great and told us to go ahead. We picked our way up the slope, eventually ditching our snowshoes. The wind started picking up and the snow starting coming down pretty hard. We stopped several times to add more gear. The last several hundred feet were difficult because of the nasty conditions. We all struggled our way to the top. Ryan had been jabbering about how he hadn't been out since December, but he did just as well as the rest of us and didn't need to make any excuses.
Visibility from the top was very poor, but we could see that the southwest ridge we had been hoping to take did look more interesting that the route we'd taken. Oh well, another day. After signing the register and taking a couple of minutes to rest, we retreated. Several short glissades aided in our progress back to the snowshoe stash. We ran into Dwight along the way, and he rejoined the group. We strapped on our snowshoes and prepared for a nice descent in our hard earned trench. A few short glissades presented themselves, and we worked on our glissading with snowshoes techniques. A snowplow like technique seemed to work best and provided speed control. In no time we popped back out on the Cottonwood Pass Road.
As we were de-snowshoeing at the road, two snowmobilers stopped and asked for our help because one of their friends had gotten his sled stuck in some deep snow. We agreed to help and they sped off down the road to wait for us to get there. No offer of a ride? We arrived to find them putting tiny twigs under the track in hopes of getting a little traction – they admitted to not having a lot of experience. Upon our suggestion, the twig placing ended and we all heaved the sled out of its hole. Dwight then road it back down the little hill for them to the road. They were very grateful. We got back to the trailhead about 6.5 – 7 hours after we'd left. A nice little hike.
pictures & route map: