Mount Index has been on my to do list for a few years now. In late February I was on Mid-Winter Break which meant that I had to go out on as many adventures as I possibly could! The first Saturday was Zach's day off which also happen to be clear weather and relatively low avalanche danger. So if there was a shot at Index for a winter ascent, this was it!
Zach picked me up from my house at 4:45 a.m. in the morning to get as much time as possible. We reached the trail head at around 6:15 a.m. which we busted out the bikes and started off the adventure. When I looked inside my pack I instantly realized my gaiters were not there, I even packed them in before but had taken them out and forgot to put them back in (they were right next to the door at home). The bike riding in the early morning was quite refreshing, nothing like a good ol bike ride to the mountain your about to climb.
There was less snow than we had anticipated which most the time we were able to bike, although a few snow spots that made it more difficult. I was "breaking trail" for my partner while biking, but I must say I always find it being a pleasure.
The Ascent Up
After 5-6 Miles we eventually ditch the bikes and started hiking up the road. At first the road seemed nice and friendly, which lasted until the creek which the road is no longer maintained to. From here it became "brush land" which lasted for a few hours of going through mini trees and such. I started to realize why Mount Index wasn't a very popular mountain to ascend, although I managed to still be having fun.
Pretty soon the snow got softer which was time for us to put on our snow shoes, eagerness increased and I wanted to get off the road and ascend the mountain. Eventually we came across some pink ribbon which was the spot we had to ditch the road. After going up a little ways I was forced to take off my snowshoes, but it was getting steeper anyways. Hate to admit it, but we were loosing an awful deal of time on this section of the trip for some reason, even with putting out a decent effort.
Then came the more interesting part of the trip, there was a minor snow gully which I decided might be the best route of ascent. Going up it at first was fun, but as we got higher the snow became harder, the slope became steeper. As I was kicking in steps I started to worry because my toes as well as part of my foot was going numb from cold. The snice was so bomber that I could place my ice axe in as if it were an ice tool solidly. It then took more kicks and more balance for me to be able to maintain being able to go any higher, Zach below started traversing which I immediately agreed with and lowered a little.
After going a little ways in the woods it was around 12:30 p.m. which Zach figured it was time to call it quits. We were at about 4,800 feet, but still had quite a ways to go. Zach mentioned that we would not summit until at least 4 if not 5 which would not only be late, but he was not sure if he had it in him with the return trip as well. I respected his decision and we started heading down.
The Way Back Home
Going down wasn't as bad as I had thought it would be, sure we had to once again deal with the annoying brush on the way down, but this time round I protected my face a little more. Before reaching the bottom we saw tire tracks which made us wonder. "Wouldn't it be nice if we were here when that truck came though here?" Zach said. "Yes" I replied thinking it was a fun fantasy but something that would not happen anytime soon. When we reached the bottom we saw a truck going by, and sure enough Zach waves them down. Zach's dream come true after all. I saw they had a kid in the truck, I figured there was no way they would give us a ride, but sure enough our luck was in, the driver let us put our bikes in the back which is where we sat as well. A very nice deed I must say.
Near our fork in the road we get out and bike the last bit of the road to the car. Looking East I saw Mount Zeke's which I smiled at and knew it was my next objective. Unfortunately Zeke's let me down 3 times. On the way home we stopped at Zeke's burger which Zach got his food, and I got my photos. Even though we did not make the summit, it was a good trip.