Snow cover was patchy at 6700', but by the time I got to the junction with the Clover Creek trail at about 7200' the few inches of snow on the ground was at least consistently present, so I was able to rationalize putting my snowshoes on instead of carrying them. The snow was dirty - covered with conifer needles, twigs, and other debris. The day was warm and partly cloudy.
I continued up the trail to where it crossed Silliman Creek, and from there took the cross-country route, following the south / right side of the creek. Near Silliman Meadow (around 8000') the air temp was definitely getting cooler. By the time I made my way up to the meadow at about 8700', near the base of the friction slabs which approach Silliman Lake, I could feel a cold wind coming down-canyon. The snow here was white and pristine-looking, not dirty like in the forest. Ah, now this is more like winter !
The slabs were all pretty well covered with snow, and I eventually made my way to about 9500' before deciding to stop and camp on a flattish area near some pines. From there I could see fog covering the valley; the locale would soon also yield a rather nice sunset. It was not a cold night - temps dropped into the high 20's.
I headed out at 6am the next morning on snowshoes, with the light of a quarter moon and my headlamp to light the way, reaching Silliman Lake by 6:30, and the lake above it around 7. I ditched the snowshoes there, and headed up the south slope of the peak with crampons & axe, topping out shortly before 8. The views were fantastic, though accompanied by a pretty stiff breeze.
On the way back, I noticed some ice flows above the north end of Silliman Lake. I'm curious to know if anyone has climbed them.
The return trip was quick, and I got back to my car before lunch. Some pics are here : http://rhysw.com/mt_silliman200512/
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