With our summit attempt of Mount Rainier a little over a month away, Melissa and I knew we had to spend some time conditioning our bodies for the rigorous challenge. Fortunately, Grandma and Grandpa Brooks agreed to have the kids over for a sleepover so we could attempt to climb Box Elder Peak (Thank you, thank you, thank you). This peak has sentimental value to us since it is the most prominent peak visible from our house, not to mention I have attempted to summit on two previous occasions without success. The peak is sandwiched between the more well-know Lone Peak and Timpanogos Ranges and therefore does not receive the credit it deserves. The peak tops out at 11,101 impressive feet and is snow covered until July.
Melissa and I left the Dry Creek trail head (on the Alpine side) around 3pm and at about 5,500 feet in elevation. We hit the trail hard and reached snow at about 7,000ft. The snow proved quite sloppy and really drained our energy. We established camp in a snowy meadow at about 8,300ft. We enjoyed some dehydrated Pad Thai, refilled our water supplies, and tried to go to bed early. As usual, I had a difficult time falling asleep. One reason was an annoying bird that was gawking throughout most of the night with an nasty cacophony of sounds. We also heard elk in the background. Anyway, by 1:30am I was ready to make a summit attempt. Melissa asked if we could wait until 4am and I agreed.
After we awoke we had some cereal and prepared ourselves the most challenging portion of our summit attempt. We didn’t leave camp until around 5:20 and quickly realized how challenging it would be to reach the top. The snow was so soft and sloppy that we had to post hole our way through the snow. There was no visible trail, so we ended up blazing it ourselves. It was exhausting work. We crossed some pretty wicked snow fields that could have been quite dangerous without crampons and ice axes. This was Melissa’s first mountaineering experience and though shaken by the cliffs, cornices, and steep snow fields at times, overall she was amazing. She certainly is in far superior physical condition.
We reached the summit around 10am. The views were amazing of both Lone Peak and Timp (see picture of Melissa on the summit above. That is Timp from the back bowl). By then we were both extremely tired and I was feeling like I was going to leave my morning’s cereal on the summit. We stayed only a short while on the summit in order to return home to our kids and relieve the grandparents.
We quickly descended, broke camp, and hiked back to the car by about 1pm. Overall it was a great hike. We will need to do another one in the next few weeks before we head out to Rainier.