Mt. Silliman

24-25 Dec 2005 - by Rob Yang

Started on Saturday from Lodgepole on the Twin Lakes trail around 11am. I had been warned about an approaching storm that would be in the area by Sunday evening, and my plan was to camp, get an early start, go up the peak, and be back at the car by early afternoon at the latest.

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 :

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