We decided to head out into Gardner Meadows for a few nights and attempt to climb Abernathy Peak, Gardner Mountain, and North Gardner Mountain this past week. We are currently located in Winthrop, WA so the Wolf Creek Trailhead was only a 15 minute drive from where we are living. We figured that was a “safe” place to recreate with all of the COVID restrictions, etc. The weather looked good on all of the days except for Wednesday, which called for an 80 percent chance of snow showers and fairly strong winds -- sure to be strong up on the ridgelines.
Here is a map of our GPS Track from Gardner Meadows for our two day trips:
We left the Wolf Creek Trailhead around 9am and had a leisurely walk up to Gardner Meadows on the Wolf Creek Trail. The snow became pretty consistent in the shaded parts after the Junction with the South Fork of Wolf Creek. We put our snowshoes on for a bit - but eventually took them off once we arrived at the more open Gardner Meadows. We found probably one of the only dry spots to camp on in the meadows underneath a large tree that provided amazing protection from the wind, rain, and other elements. We saw one other person that day near the beginning of the trail that was out for a day hike.
We woke up on Wednesday morning with the goal of climbing Abernathy Peak via the North Ridge. Visibility was low and it was lightly raining/snowing at our camp. We decided to put on our snowshoes and take a walk up towards the peak just to see what the conditions were like up there. We reached a small ridge running to the northern ridgeline just above Abernathy Lake, took our snowshoes off, stashed them in some trees, and got our ice axes out to begin our journey to the ridge. It was windy with gusts maybe up to 25 or so miles per hour and we could just see Abernathy Peak coming through the clouds. We made it to the ridgeline and it was fairly easy walking and route finding for the first little bit. Eventually, we found ourselves cliffed out on a rock outcropping with seemingly no way around. There was a steep snow slope with a cornice to our east and steep icy rock gullys to our east. We were unable to find a way around and we were getting blasted by wind and snow on the ridgeline and we decided that it may be best for us to turn around because of conditions. We had a great journey back down to our snowshoes and walked back to camp. Later that evening the storm broke a little bit and it was obviously going to blow away. We went to bed early that night and were hoping for better weather tomorrow for our attempts at the Gardner’s. We were a little bummed about not making it to the top of Abernathy Peak, but it was just great to be outside and adventuring.
We woke up on Thursday and the weather was stellar. We left camp and started our journey up Gardner Mountain. The snow was a bit icy and we may have left camp a little early, but we were able to make it work with our boots and ice axes. After some work, we summited Gardner Mountain, along with a few ski tracks probably from not too long ago. Then, we dropped down and around to begin our ascent to Peak 8480. We took a long traverse across the bowl and up to the ridgeline, gained the Ridge to North Gardner Mountain, and walked the ridge to the top. Great views & awesome travel!! We descended the ridge back to Peak 8480 and glissaded most of the way back to camp. Great day out - we are thankful the weather stayed beautiful for the day.
We woke up on Friday morning packed up and enjoyed a nice walk out on the trail back to the trailhead. The trail definitely had less snow and it was nice to walk back down into the warm Springtime in the Methow Valley.
Overall, really glad we made it out. Didn’t see a single soul and enjoyed some time away from the coronavirus news world that can be confusing, sad, and unavoidable.