Cougar Mountain in Winter

Instead of my usual (driving up after work on Friday and sleeping in the truck), me and the g/f headed up to the park Saturday morning. The day's objectives was Cougar Mountain, one that had been suggested to me as a reasonable winter objective several years ago.

Getting a lateish start (9:20 am) at the Grapevine Spring TH, we set out. Reaching the lower Left Fork, the trail vanished. A short bushwhack took us to the confluence with the RF. Heading up the Right Fork, crossing and recrossing many times, we hung a right into Trail Canyon.

I'd heard that there were remnants of an old trail going up Trail Canyon. Well, we didn't find it (nor did we find anything going up the RF, for that matter - erosion damage, by the way, is intense there), and we had an interesting time, scrambling up through several sandslides, rockslides, and crossing icy pools, etc.

Reaching the base of the 2nd dryfall in Trail Canyon, the snow became signicantly heavier. Out came the ice axes. Sketchy climbing got us out of the canyon just below the upper headwall of the second fall.

Just above there, I grew tired of working toward the head of the canyon. Instead, I took a direct line (leaving the g/f behind...she chose to sun herself on a rock while I pressed on) at the first break I saw.

A couple hundred feet of class 3 mixed scrambling took me to a sunny spot atop a ridge of sorts. The summit was visible 1/2 mile away over convoluted terrain. I began jogging.

Other than some tedious stuff, including traverses through no fewer than six minor washes, I eventually found myself at the base of the summit dome. Steep slabs covered in snow. Working weaknesses, I got to the top without incident. Built a cairn, and started jogging down an easier line I picked out.

No issues getting back to the g/f, who by that time was freezing in the vanished sun at her boulder. A leisurely hike out had us back to the truck at last light.

All in all, a nice summit that had a very-backcountry feel.