September 23, 2006
Marcus and I decided to take on a grueling objective while our wives were off climbing Big Snow, so we chose the scramble up Mt Index. The 75 Scrambles book from which we were referencing, suggests gettiing a Weyerhauser logging road map from the North Bend Ranger Station. We didn't have one, and after about an hour of driving around the logging roads of Forest Service Road 60, and deadending three times, we decided to bail and go hike up Mt Baring.
The trail to Baring begins at the trailhead for Barclay Lake, but heads up a climbers' trail 1,800 feet straight up to a ridge west of Baring. We topped out on this ridge after an hour of steep, calf-pumping climbing. Once on the ridge, it was a fun romp for a mile or so along the crest of the ridge until we reached a long boulder field spilling down from the notch between the north and south peaks of Baring. We boulder hopped up the talus until we reached the notch, where crystal clear views into the Central Cascades opened up.
From the notch, we stashed our trekking poles in preparation for the "T5" scrambling ahead. After about 8 feet it was over and we were hiking again. We were a little disappointed and hoping it wasn't the end of the scrambling. Mid-way up the ridge we decided to veer off to the left over to some granite slabs to make things a little more challenging. We found some nice hand jams to mimic the feel of some real climbing, although it was never more than 3rd or 4th class. From the summit we had breathtaking views all around, from Rainier in the south to Stuart and Glacier to the east and Baker to the north. We enjoyed some snacks and the Guinness that Marcus carried up, then headed down.
The way down was more difficult than the way up because the trail is so steep for periods of time. Most of the forest is devoid of underbrush, which seemed remarkable because it is on the wet, west side of the Central Cascades. There seemed to be a lot of potentially good skiing on this trail. Not just the nicely spaced trees in the glades, but we came across several steep chutes. Lots of potential for a multi-day skiing trip if there's a good snowpack and if the road stays open. In the summer though, it is quite a pleasant outing with good views and varied terrain.