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Mount Constance

At: Washington, United States
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About: Mount Constance is a peak in the Olympic Mountains of Washington and the third highest in the range. It is the most visually prominent peak on Seattle's western skyline. Despite being almost as tall as the ice-clad Mount Olympus to the west, Mount Constance has little in the way of glaciers and permanent snow due to warmer inland temperature and less precipitation. In addition, the treeline here is higher than points to the west, also hinting at the warmer conditions here. By virtue of its position at the eastern edge of the Olympics, Mount Constance also enjoys spectacular vertical relief. For example, it rises over 6900 feet above the Dosewallips River to the south in only 3 horizontal miles (5 km). It is also only 12 miles from the tidewater of Hood Canal. Climbing Most of the rock climbing in the Olympic Mountains is done on the eastern side of the Park -- although there are very few peaks available which are actually rated technically. Boasting a 60-foot vertical summit block, Mount Constance has the reputation of being the ultimate ONP challenge to the novice climber. Access Boulder Ridge (including the Gargoyles, Charlia Lakes, Cloudy Peak, Alphabet Ridge, and Warrior) and Home Lake / Constance Pass are readily accessed via the Buckhorn Wilderness Area (U.S. Forest Service) side of the Upper Dungeness River Trail and Marmot Pass. An alternative approach to the Mt. Constance massif -- including Inner Constance and the twin peaks of Warrior -- is via the Dosewallips River Trailhead off of US 101 and Hood Canal. A third alternative is to access the Constance massif via Quilcene logging roads (FS 2700 aka "Penny Creek Road" off US 101) leading to a brief 6 - 7 mile ascent to Tunnel Creek Ridge and the high alpine shores of Harrison Lake. In fact, the most stunning views of the east side of Mt. Constance and Warrior are readily available from these roads (the lower portions of which are paved) which actually connect to FS 2800 and the Dungeness / Sequim area via the 5000-foot Bon Jon Pass. The 60-foot vertical summit block of Mt. Constance provides a far greater technical challenge to the average climber than the more subtle snow-covered peak of Mount Olympus and the neighboring Valhallas. Failure to successfully cross the legendary (and highly exposed) "Terrible Traverse" on snow to the nearby vertical summit block of Mt. Constance can result in a 1000-foot vertical drop into the unforgiving Tunnel Creek drainage below. For detailed maps of the Buckhorn Wilderness Area, updated information on road conditions and trailheads in this area (road closures are frequent), contact the Olympic National Forest (Hood Canal Ranger District) Office near Quilcene on US 101 @ (360-765-2200).


Maria Ly
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