Sunday, February 25, 2018

February skiing...back to our usual stormy storminess

Yodelin last weekend - lots of snow, even more wind...helmets were handy for the amount of snow falling out of the trees.  The skiing was okay, the trailbreaking was quite the workout.

Becky and I got up to Snoqualmie on the 23rd, ahead of the weekend crowds and storms.  Toured around Guye Peak, took a peak at some steeper terrain we look forward to hitting later this season once our crazy snowpack settles down a bit.

With Becky off to work for the weekend, I was chasing Chris and his buddy Nathan around the Stevens Pass trees on Saturday.  Great conditions...pretty easy trailbeaking, scattered flurries and sun, and cold fluffy snow all day.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Years ski trip - Mt.Rainier

Becky and I had a few days off over the New Years weekend - unfortunately the weather immediately preceding our days off wasn't very kind to the snowpack.

We joined some friends for a short ski tour on Saturday at Snoqualmie Pass - it was snowing...barely... another few hundred feet lower and we would've been in rain.  The snow was a deep, funky mixture of rain saturated stuff lower down, topped with a breakable refreezing crust from the rain event the night before with a few inches of new snow on top. The skiing was ugly, and we threw in the towel after just about 1,000ft of climbing... time to head home, dry out the gear, and hit the reset button for the rest of the weekend.

Sunday and Monday had sunny weather in the forecast but we figured anything low elevation would have the same breakable crust we we opted to take our chances going high - it was off to Rainier to goof around.
With the winter gate to Paradise opening at 9am and closing at 5pm, doing a day trip to Rainier is rarely at the top of our to-do always feels a little we brought the camping gear, and stayed for two days.
Sunny days are usually shared with a ton of other skiers when sticking to the usual Paradise to Camp Muir route...but we're rather fond of scooting further around to the east to setting up camp near Cowlitz Rocks where we can find a variety of slopes and generally have the place to ourselves.
We only ran into three other day-tripping skiers out there Sunday and enjoyed a lovely sunset and moonrise.  As usual, the long nights this time of year meant we hit the sack at about 6:30pm and slept for 14 hours...yup.... 14 hours.
Sunday was sunny, warmer, and had some legitimately good skiing from 9,500ft back down to our camp at 6,800ft.  After a nice long run on the Paradise glacier, we packed up our gear and slid for the parking lot.

link to photo album

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Snoqualmie Pass touring

link to more photos

Andy, Becky, and I found sunshine, stable powder, and ample solitude out on a nice rambly tour at Snoqualmie Pass.  Racked up about 5500vf of mostly great, shallow powdery turns and really didn't see too many folks until everyone was on the shuffle back across Snow Lake.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, Star Pk & Courtney Pk

For years, our traditional fall trip was to hike through the Enchantments to gawk at the larches as they turn neon yellow for a couple weeks.  The last time we visited the Enchantments though, we were a bit turned off by the crowds, the hikers listening to music out loud on their smartphones, the steady stream of trail-runners wanting to blast by us...the Enchantments are just a bit over-loved.  So, it was time to try somewhere new.
Fortunately the east side of the North Cascades has many more larches than those in the Enchantments, and if you're willing to get off the beaten path a bit, you can find some uncrowded, no-permits necessary larchy lands.   It was pretty chilly with the new snow and all, but we still got in climbs of Courtney and Star Pks while we were out there.

Linky to the photo albums

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lyman Glacier, Chiwawa Mtn

Becky and I were home for approximately 24 hours from the Pasayten Wilderness when we realized that with our remaining three days of summer break, we could squeak in another short trip...and revisit our old nemesis, Chiwawa.   We'd tried twice, from two different routes and been skunked...but this time we came with way more technical gear than we'd likely need in order to cruise the glacier no matter how icy conditions were.
Turns out the glacier was in fantastic ice screw or rope needed at all... a super fun climb and fantastic views.  Nice way to wrap up our two week break.

Linky to the photo albums

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer break - two weeks in the North Cascades

Becky and I had the last two weeks of July off to get in some quality time in the North Cascades.

Trip #1 was the 'Devils Dome Loop' - a fun three-day jaunt around Jack and Crater Mountains.   Lots of wildflowers, the use of a motorboat shuttle to cut off a day of shoreline hiking, and perfect weather!

After we wrapped that up, it was east to the Methow Valley for a couple days of lazy hotel time at the Freestone Inn.   Acting like adults and sorting our gear while enjoying a swimming pool and hotel happy hour was pretty nice.

Trip #2 was north of Winthrop, up into the Pasayten Wilderness.  We did a loop out of the Chewech River/ThirtyMile Trailhead...climbing Remmel, Amphitheater, and Apex Mtns along the way.  Sadly, the clouds and thundery weather we had while staying at the Freestone ended up being the storm that sparked the Pasayten fires that raged the rest of the summer out there- we were lucky to get in the trip we did before the mountains blew up.

Linky to the rest of the photos

Friday, May 26, 2017

Mt.Hood circumnavigation & Wy'East Face

Why do in one day what you can do in three?

From what Becky and I had read, it seems like most everyone knocks out a Mt. Hood circumnavigation in a single day, but we decided to spend a couple nights out so we could be leisurely and have time for a ski of the Wy'east face on our last day. We figured a late morning start on day 1 would allow us to ski the west and north aspects later in the day and get softer snow, then after camping we could catch the east side of the mountain in the morning sun.

We skinned out of Timberline and hit Illumination Saddle around noon. Coverage and snow conditions on the Reid Glacier were great. Only had a couple crevasses starting to open up as we scooted through between Yocum Ridge and the glacier at around 8000ft then made a descending traverse to the broad lower Yocum Ridge at about 7500ft. We had a short walk on dirt/scree over to the Sandy Glacier where we tried to hold a contour. We mightve been a little low on this next section as we had to skin and boot back up a bit to get onto the Ladd Glacier. From there it was a smooth shuffle across the Ladd and Coe glaciers. A short, mostly snow bootpack got us to the Snowdome/Langille Glacier side of the mountain where we found a recently abandoned campsite so we made use of their snow platform and settled in for the rest of the day. Not sure how easy it is to access the NW side of Hood, but wow there is some fun looking terrain around the Ladd and Glisan glaciers area, wish we wouldve had more time to spend over there.

The next morning we opted to get in a nice mellow ski down the Elliot to about 7000ft where we were able to squeak in a descending traverse onto Cooper Spur. The skin back up the spur to 9000ft was punctuated with many breaks to watch the hardier souls climbing up and skiing down the Cooper Spur route.  From 9000ft we were able to rip skins and slide quickly around the east side of the mountain all the way to the base of the Wyeast route. Only had to scoot around a couple opening crevasses on the Newton Clark, the coverage is just really, really good on Hood right now. It was only lunchtime but wed already arrived at our next camp. Since the snow was well-cooked we spent a lazy afternoon reading and playing cards.

Around dinnertime we had a surprising gear malfunction, the two partially filled smaller cartridges we had been using with our jetboil ran dry so we moved on to using a new canister. Either the threads on our jetboil stove are damaged or the new canister was defective but we couldnt get the fuel threaded on to the stove it just spun and spun and then popped off. Fortunately it was warm enough that a trash bag solar still and nalgenes filled with snow on warm rocks provided ample water we just had to suffer through eating a dinner of cold ramen noodles, bleck.

Sunday morning we were up at 5:30, and on the move by 6:30, we left the camping gear behind and with light packs cramponed up the Wyeast face, we were circumnavigating the mountain, but we needed some good fall-line turns too. Corn-o-clock came fast and by the time we hit the top of the face at 9 the slope was ready to ski. Although the face is currently marred with quite a bit of debris (looks like a skier triggered sluff run amok from days earlier) there was still ample smooth corn available.

We were back at camp in no time and after grabbing our tent we started down the White River glacier. We shouldve put the skins on and regained the south side up high but we figured we could use one of the several old ski tracks we saw that contoured west out of the valley lower down. The eastern exposure mixed with the hot temps made the traverse out of the White River canyon pretty unpleasant, but we eventually popped up and over and had the home stretch down to the car.

Given the dirty snow and soon to be patchy coverage between Wy'east and Timberline - climbing out of Mt.Hood Meadows is definitely the way to go right now for a better fall-line ski to your car.

After our ghetto cold ramen dinner, we were happy to stroll up the parking lot and fill our bellies at the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at Timberline Lodge