Lichtenberg Mtn - 5844'
Mt. McCausland - 5747'

Miles: 13.5 Gain: 4500' Map: GT Benchmark Mtn #144
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In the mood for a spring snow camp, I had tried to plan an April trip to Teanaway that for reasons I can't remember right now, fell through and then another early in May to overnight at the lookout on Pilchuck.  Poor weather and high avy risk cancelled that one.   But this trip up to Lichtenwasser Lake and scrambles of Lichtenberg and McCausland had potential. Weather wise at least.

We met in Monroe at 8:00am and carpooled from there, arriving at Smith Brook Road around 9:30a.  The road is still snow covered but the berm is gone and a few cars can park off Hwy 2.  We booted it up to the first switchback and left the road heading WNW.  In short order we found Smith Brook and had to look around a little to find a suitably robust snow bridge to cross on.  Once on the other side we started climbing WSW, crested a north running ridge at about 4300' and took it south to the 4700' lake.  I think it took about 3 to 3.5 hours (?) to make the lake from the car.  We set up camp near the open water at the outlet.

From the lake we had two options for approaching Lichtenberg.  One was to hike around to the SW end of the lake and aim for a break in the cornices on the ridge between Pt. 5737 and the summit.  The other was to hike up the NE ridge directly to the high point. The day was warm and by the time we were ready to go it was mid afternoon.  The snow was softening quickly and we could see many small sluffs on the higher angled slopes around us.  Quite a few of them directly below the large cornices on the ridge. Risking being under one of those if it were to break didn't seem to appealing, so we opted for the NE ridge.  The ridge is pretty easy until just below the summit where the it quickly becomes climber territory.  We looked left; no real option there.  To the right we could see the way but it was steep.

We crossed a 75 yard wide open slope to get into some trees, followed them up until they petered out and had to make a decision.   We'd have 100' of 40+ degree slope to climb from there.  We dug into the slope and found good consolidated snow under 2" - 4" of wet slushy stuff.  Kicked steps were solid, but the surface layer sluffed easily.  I went ahead to see what the ridge top looked like while Kelley and Tony waited.  At some point I cut back to my left and started a small sluff sliding down slope. 
Almost took Kelley off her feet when it reached them.  I should have, as she suggested traversed more to the center of the ridge as I climbed, but it was steeper still in that direction and I wasn't too wiling to be out there on that slope.  After the slide, they retreated and I went the rest of the way to the the rocks on the ridge.  From what I could see, the ridge was snow covered and unlikely to be any more stable than the stuff I was standing on at that moment.  Far enough for me.  Time to head back to camp and get something to eat. 

The night was perfectly clear and almost completely still.  More stars than you can imagine greeted that midnight call of nature and as unpleasant as putting cold wet boots on bare feet was, the spectacle of the night sky was almost worth it. 

We got up at an hour appropriate for a holiday weekend, had breakfast, rolled up camp and headed down from the lake toward Smith Brook.  At about 4400' we left the ridge heading generally SW up the drainage toward a 5050' saddle between Lichtenberg and McCausland. Took us about 3 hours from the lake to the saddle.  We dumped most of our gear and the headed up McCausland's SE ridge.  At about 5300' the slope becomes steeper than we wanted to try in these conditions so we instead went off to the right and into the trees working our way up roughly along the county line shown on the maps.

Perfect day to be on a summit. Sunny, warm and while a little breezy, still very pleasant. A short break and back to our gear cache we went. Nice to have actually made a summit this weekend. We were following a single set of MSR snowshoe tracks that had turned around about at the 5300' mark on McCausland now and they led unerringly back to Smith Brook and the road. We of course couldn't simply follow them all the way out but had to experiment with the route a little. In the future I'll be going to the right of the 4600' nose, closer to Smith Brook than staying higher and to the left. No real problems but more work than we needed at the end of a long day. 

Turned out to be a great trip.  The best Memorial Day Weekend weather in 2 decades, lots of snow and stars and the company of two people I always look forward to trips with.  Doesn't get much better in my book.

Drive hwy 2 east of stevens pass to smith brook road.  In summer, park at the smith brook trailhead (3 miles from hwy 2).  When the road is snow covered, park as close at possible and start walking.
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