Party: This was a Mountaineers organized scramble with a full 12 person party.
Weather: Rain below Snow. Visibility: mostly poor.
Route: The wrong one! Actually, I was quite happy with the route, from the map it seemed quite a reasonable approach. The leader was dazed and confused, primarily since he had been to the peak before, but not this way. After missing the obvious signed turn-off to Snoqualmie, we explored Cave Ridge. Then headed up what I believed to be the south shoulder, and a fine route according to the map. We peaked out on the top of something... later understood to be "snowdome" (according to the Becky guide). From the snowdome, we traverse west down and then back up the ridge to a short vertical buttress. Given the snow conditions, poor visibility and the generally cold, non-enthusiastic party, we did not go any further. The leader wandered around in frustration, claiming that this is the first time EVER that he had not successfully navigated a route!
The descent, down a different path, was quite pleasant. After getting below the snow and the rain stopped, we wandered through a beautiful autumn valley. I love the red and golden colours of the alpine autumn. The valley ended at the trail we should have come up, and we inspected the prefered route up the true south shoulder of Snoqualimie. The trail down from here was straight forward and definitely shorter than our approach. On leaving the parking lot, I got a view through a cloud clearing of the snoqualmie summit with its fresh coat of early season snow. Had we been on the ridge at that moment, everything would have been clear as to where to go.
Checking Becky's guide when I got home, I see how close we came, and that a snow covered path led the way, traversing probably only 100 feet below us. The summit was no more that a few hundred lateral feet away and less than 50 vertical feet above.
This is the closest I have been to a planned summit without making it to the top! I guess it would feel worse if this were Everest! I will be back!
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