With Thomas Elmer's assistance and an able team (Lynne Pedersen, David Kafouty, Christian Meining, Ted Serres), we made an attempt on Mt. Constance in the Olympics. We used the South Fork Tunnel Creek approach, which has not been tried by a Mazama party to my knowledge. We chose it because of the fire damage on the more traditional approach by Lake Constance. It's a nice trail approach most of the way, followed by a moderate bushwhack for a mile to make the meadows below the Nun and the Destroyer (auspicious names). The only downside is the 600 foot descent after crossing Cunningham Pass. But overall it's a beautiful route and approach, and nice camp in a snowy valley.
Note the avalanche debris in the photo taken crossing the snow on the way back to Cunningham Pass. This slide cut loose from a ledge above the false gully, not 20 minutes after we had left the gully and gotten back on route. A total surprise - didn't even notice the ledge of snow, and although it was a warm day, the past serveral days had been warmer, and there was no other avvy activity to be seen anywhere on the route.
We ran out of time just as it was getting fun, at the Fingertip Traverse. Rats. If I'd allowed more time, and planned to camp the night after the climb, we could have made it. Despite losing 1.5 hours off-route in the 3rd snow ramp instead of the correct 4th ramp, because the book says drop a few hundred feet when it's really a full 600 feet! If I had viewed the route in Google Earth before the climb, as you can see below, I would have recognized and avoided the false ramp.
We'll try again in 2011! Sadly, without Christian, who lost his life in a slip and avalanche off the trail to the Mountaineer's route on Whitney over Thanksgiving. Guess this time around it will be a memorial climb.
Here's the full approach and route in Google Earth. Hints: click a Play button to follow the route, click the map to look around.
Driving directions from: