Community on the Hourglass
(Hourglass Couloir to Mt. Dade)

2-3 Jun 2007 - by Steve Curry

Saturday June 2, 2007 10 participants gathered at Mosquito Flats Trailhead to climb the Hourglass Couloir on an ascent of Mt. Dade 13,600'. Danielle Carlin, Dave Chapman, Steve Curry (leader and scribe), Roberto DeCandia, Catherine Dunn, Greg Johnson, Louis Kwan, Doug Owens, Doan Trang and Asher Waxman (assistant leader) met at 9 a.m. and after introductions and sign-in we departed for the Treasure Lakes area below Mt. Dade.

The weather was sunny and mild with temperature in the 70's. The trail was snow free and the snow covered mountains and valleys above the lakes were beautiful and inviting to the photographers in the group. At Long Lake (10,600')we departed the trail and began the x-country portion of our approach to Treasure Lakes. Ascending a talus filled gully with full backpacks isn't everyone's idea of fun but after a break for lunch we topped out at Treasure Lakes and found campsites. Treasure Lakes has minimal good campsites. I counted 5 flat tent-sized areas. We established 2 camps within 150 feet of each other with the party split equally between the two sites. There was only one other campsite occupied at the lakes while we were there. After settling into our campsites we were up again and onto the snow slopes above Treasure Lakes to practice our ice ax and crampon technique and to scout the approach to the Hourglass Couloir for the following morning. This filled the afternoon and returning to camp found everyone ready for happy hour. Happy hour was a garbage salad with everyone contributing something to the mix-apples, sunflower seeds, cucumbers, tomatoes, croutons, cheeses and for dessert chocolate covered figs and cookies. Some cooked up meals and Trang shared a delicious Oolong tea. Everyone retired to their camps and a good nights rest after agreeing upon a 5:30 a.m. start for the following morning. Temperature was moderately in the 40's and a full moon made the early morning call of nature 6 a.m. found us moving around the upper lake to access the approach to the Hourglass couloir. The sun greeted us as we began our ascent.

Interestingly, we had one incident of rockfall while in the couloir. It passed the leader within 20 feet and was called out by the second in line. There's nothing like a melon sized boulder whizzing past you at tremendous speed to make you appreciate an alert party. We exited the Hourglass onto talus about 100 feet below the actual saddle at the top of the couloir and scrambled to the saddle and left our extraneous equipment for the climb of Mt Dade. The climb of the couloir took us about 2 hours. By 10:00 a.m. we were all celebrating being on the summit of Mt. Dade, 13,600'. The day was warm with blue sky and a light breeze. Many photos ensued, sharing treats and signing the register. Ours was approximately the fourth party on the summit for 2007.

We departed the summit about 11:00 a.m. and after boulder hopping and scree skiing our way to the saddle, we regrouped and began the decent of the couloir. Plunge steps and glissades brought us back to the base of the couloir and a small elevation gain placed us on the arete north of Treasure Lakes and just above our camps. A scree descent put us into camp around 12:30 p.m. We de-camped and hiked out arriving at the trailhead around 4:30 p.m. Mosquito Flats is aptly named. The mozzies were out in force. After a celebratory dinner at Tom's Place it was time to depart for our respective destinations.

Memories of a great weekend outing are a wonderful reward for the efforts expended. Thanks everyone for a great trip! Stats: 10.6 miles rt, 3300' gain, Mt. Dade 13,600'

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