With little snow so far this season and recently warmer temperatures making ice hard to come by, Kelsey and I were both feeling alpine withdrawal. We decided to head into the Source Lake area near Alpental to see what conditions looked like and make a judgement call from there.
We were on the road by about 7:30am and hiking in a little before 9am. The approach to Pineapple Pass was pretty straightforward except for some ice-covered rocks on the way up to the base of the climb, which another party was pitching out. We were at the col at the start of the climb by about 11:30am, which was a lovely place to be as the sun hit us for the first time in the day.
The route was covered with snow and small bits of ice on all near-horizontal surfaces, so it was an especially interesting 5.4 climb in mountaineering boots. I mostly led with bare hands on rock, but pulled out an ice tool every so often and put the gloves back on when I started losing feeling.
Everything was pretty fun, with the final pitch being especially thought-provoking in those conditions, pulling on flakes, gingerly stepping across the catwalk, and pulling over the final lip. We took our time, given how slippery things were, and summited at about 3pm in the afternoon sun with stunning views of the area and Rainier. The raps were straightforward with our single 70m rope and we were quickly back down in the bowl below Pineapple Pass, heading down the gully toward Source Lake as darkness fell. What a great day trip in a beautiful area and good experience climbing somewhat technical rock in the winter.