Turns All Year Trip Reports

2004 Backcountry Trip Reports => July-August 2004 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: Amar Andalkar on 07/13/04, 11:15 AM



Title: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Amar Andalkar on 07/13/04, 11:15 AM
Encouraged by last week's reports of success on the Park Headwall via Boulder-Park Cleaver and Boulder Glacier (see the Mt Adams NFNWR thread (http://www.turns-all-year.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=tr0407;action=display;num=1089133346)), we planned to ski the same route this weekend. However, the forecast late-week improvement in the weather failed to arrive, delaying the trip from Saturday to Sunday to eventually Monday. Plans to camp were abandoned and it was decided to do it in a long day, so David, Paul and I left Seattle before 2am. We were joined at the trailhead by Justin and we headed up the nasty muddy trail at 5am. We reached the handline at 4500 ft onto Boulder Ridge in under 2 hours, climbed the 3rd-4th class cliff, and found continuously skiable snow still reaching down to 4750 ft just beyond the top of the cliff.

The taxing approach hike had dampened the spirits and energy of some in the group, but the glorious scenery atop the ridge was a worthy reward. We hiked and skinned up to 9100 ft near the top of Boulder-Park Cleaver, where the crevasse situation indicated that we should rope up before going onto the Boulder Glacier proper (a few incipient crevasses and sags had been crossed much lower down near 6000-7000 ft). Crevasses on both the Boulder and Park Glaciers have opened up substantially in the past week, the route above on the Boulder appears to require some lengthy traverses to end-run big cracks, and the exit from the planned Park Headwall descent looks to have a difficult bergschrund crossing. However, it was past noon by then, and we knew it would take 1.5-2 hours to ascend the remaining distance to the summit while roped-up and on foot. Our enthusiasm waned and we decided to just ski back down from this point.

We skied down at 1pm on fairly good corn snow, perhaps softened a bit too much. Some areas of newer whiter snow could be seen above 8000 ft, but mostly the surface was lightly suncupped and thinly ash covered. Suncups and runnels became substantial below 7000 ft, where the route passes over several cracks and sags along with a nasty moat/crevasse on the back side of a roll beside the rocks (which nearly claimed some victims). We skied continuously down to 4750 ft on Boulder Ridge, following the only single line of continuous snow reaching that low anywhere on the east side of Mount Baker (a fortuitous result of wind deposition on the lee of the SE-trending ridge). Overall, it was a fine day of summer skiing with 4400 vft, but at the expense of much effort trudging up and down the swampy roller-coaster trail, with about 6800 vft of total ascent for the day. It was disappointing not to summit and be able to ski the Park Headwall, but we knew before the trip started that this entire route is much better done in May or June when the crevasses are well-bridged and the approach is completely skinnable. Nevertheless, one big advantage of going in the summer (at least for a glaciology enthusiast like me) was the chance to see the Boulder Glacier in all its fractured multicolored glory, with blues and browns and grays, plus numerous waterfalls and one huge ice cave visible in its cliffs. Certainly among the most unusual and interesting glaciers I've ever seen.

Amar Andalkar
www.skimountaineer.com (http://www.skimountaineer.com/)

David carves the corn of the upper Boulder-Park Cleaver, with the Park Glacier at right and the edge of the Park Headwall dropping from the summit above it. Part of the Boulder Glacier is visible at upper left. Click here (http://www.skimountaineer.com/TR/Images2004/BakerBoulderPark071204-1200.jpg) for an enlarged version of this photo.

(http://www.skimountaineer.com/TR/Images2004/BakerBoulderPark071204-600.jpg)


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: powscraper on 07/13/04, 12:29 PM
My photos are here:

http://www.neolectric.com/~justin/Baker071204.html


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Paul Belitz on 07/13/04, 03:07 PM
Check your emails, guys. Amar, is your u.washington account still active?

Here's my short, shoddy TR:
http://students.washington.edu/pbelitz/7_12_04_baker/


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: philfort on 07/13/04, 05:55 PM
Haha nice... a well coordinated series of posts (reminds me of execs at my company trying to synchronize their emails about re-orgs).

"Crevasses on both the Boulder and Park Glaciers have opened up substantially in the past week, the route above on the Boulder appears to require some lengthy traverses to end-run big cracks,"

Hmm, looks the same as it did last wknd in your pictures  :)


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Paul Belitz on 07/13/04, 06:14 PM
You guys are just way harder core than us. At least you summitted! Man, that hike is so much better when you can skin the ridge. Dave and I agree on this. Hence, it must be true!  ;) I don't think that the glaciers can change so very much in a week, but whatever. I am suck regardless.

I think it's the season for long, stupid carries to snow once a month. Or at least, it's close. November, feel free to stop by!


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: powscraper on 07/13/04, 06:38 PM
Oh the route was fine, another hour or two we'd have been on the summit... but the desire of the group just wasn't there.  Still a good ski down the cleaver though.


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: David_Coleman on 07/14/04, 06:56 AM
For the comment about the conditions looking the same as it did the prior week - I disagree.  You can see some additional openings above the cleaver.  I would lean towards concurring with Amar's knowledge re: glacial movement/snowmelt, etc.  


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: philfort on 07/14/04, 07:32 AM
Ah, but from my comfortable armchair, using expert analysis of 640 pixel wide jpgs, I can tell you they look identical.  ;)

http://www.alpineslider.com/DSCp00012.JPG

http://www.neolectric.com/~justin/images/NW/Baker/071204/BoulderPark.jpg


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Paul Belitz on 07/14/04, 07:46 AM
Yep, they look pretty similar. What time did you guys get to the base of the cleaver?


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: powscraper on 07/14/04, 07:47 AM
Actually I think I figured out the problem, we forgot to bring the Prince.  We did rock out to some Michael Jackson once back at the cars though.


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: philfort on 07/14/04, 09:05 AM
We left the car at around 5am, at the snow by 8am, so I guess base of the cleaver by 9:30 or so?  Then summit at 4pm.  Yeah, we were slow!  We dicked around on the boulder glacier, winding around wide crevasses for too long, instead of going up the cleaver.  The visions of a ski video with His Purpleness was the only thing that kept us going.


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Paul Belitz on 07/14/04, 09:14 AM
You summitted at 4pm! Damn! We left the car by 5, hit snow by 7, and hit our highpoints at around 1:30 or 2.

I almost want to go back this weekend.


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: powscraper on 07/14/04, 10:25 AM
Yeah we have to go back and leave tracks that look like this:

(http://www.ils.unc.edu/~lindgren/Prince/symbol.gif)


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: David_Coleman on 07/14/04, 10:30 AM
Paul..you're trippin'....Justin, Amar and I topped out at our point well before 2.  Why are you trippin' out at a 4pm summit time?  Sky and I were on the top at 5:30pm last January - remember, real men ski pink??  ;)


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Sam Avaiusini on 07/14/04, 10:38 AM
ha! ;D
excellent!


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Sam Avaiusini on 07/14/04, 10:54 AM
It's over 8 grand of vert. and there's a bit of mileage and other BS on that approach.  4pm for a summit time seemed about right for us, plus we had women in tow up to the cleaver. ;)
...not to mention, our only playable copy of the Prince album was vinyl, that meant we all had to take turns hauling the turntable, amp and speakers up the mountain! ;D


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Paul Belitz on 07/14/04, 10:54 AM
Dave, you skied down that little chute above where I stopped at 2:18pm, 7/12/04. There's no way you topped out before 1:30, unless you sat around up there for an hour. Well, maybe you did, since I couldn't see you. But either way, I was reasonably accurate with my times.  ;D Don't f*ck with the time stamp, man, I know my camera's right.  ;)

If you summit at 4, you get to the base of the cleaver at, say, 6, get to the car at 8 or 8:30, get back to Seattle late. Having a 2.5 hour hike out is not quite the same as being able to ski back to the car. Right?

And handlines are aid.

Mommy, is it winter yet?


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: David_Coleman on 07/14/04, 12:00 PM
Hey Man...screw you're camera's clock & don't mess with the guy who outdrank everybody at Ben's party (with the exception of Sky and Amar)  >:(

Actually, we did sit around there for about 1/2 hr, so that put us there around 1:45.  BTW, I wasn't saying anything bad about anybody's time...never ever  8).  I was just trying to state how cool we were for skiing down the RWall at 5:45pm (near dark) January '03....you would have loved it Paul  ;D


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Amar Andalkar on 07/14/04, 12:09 PM
I almost never get involved in these fruitless exchanges, but this time I feel forced to respond. I think it is inappropriate to air one's partners' dirty laundry or attack others on a public forum (which is the main reason I usually avoid responding in these cases), and I hope that what I'm going to write below doesn't cause any hard feelings or ill will.

Quote:
Dave, you skied down that little chute above where I stopped at 2:18pm, 7/12/04. There's no way you topped out before 1:30, unless you sat around up there for an hour. Well, maybe you did, since I couldn't see you. But either way, I was reasonably accurate with my times.  ;D Don't f*ck with the time stamp, man, I know my camera's right.  ...

Paul, you are actually dead wrong about our topping out time. You were 1000+ vft below us, so the time you saw us ski down to you has no correlation with our topping out time (as you say, you couldn't see us). I have a photo taken at our high point of about 9100 ft at 12:54pm, but this was about 10-15 minutes after David and I stopped there (and perhaps 20-25 minutes after Justin).

We did spend a long time debating whether to climb to the summit, as Justin had already put on his harness and flaked out the rope for us. Justin and I had the desire and energy to summit, but I considered a 2-person rope team on foot to be quite marginal for safety under the observed crevasse conditions. The weather was also turning sour, mammatus clouds and updraft streaks were building, clear signs of atmospheric instability and imminent thunderstorms. I thought they might continue to build and didn't want to climb into possible electricity, however Justin thought they'd fade away and he turned out to be completely right (all clouds disappeared within 1-2 hrs). In the end, I was OK that we erred on the side of excess safety and just skied down, even though we could have summited fairly easily in under 2 hrs.

Quote:
Ah, but from my comfortable armchair, using expert analysis of 640 pixel wide jpgs, I can tell you they look identical.  ;)

http://www.alpineslider.com/DSCp00012.JPG

http://www.neolectric.com/~justin/images/NW/Baker/071204/BoulderPark.jpg

I'm not sure how much the glaciers have actually moved in one week, but I think it's difficult to compare crevasse conditions based on these photos taken from 4-5 miles distance. Nevertheless, I happened to take an exact duplicate of Sam's photo, right down to the same trees framing the view, and I can see slight differences at the 1-pixel level in my photo and his. But 1-pixel equals tens of feet at this scale, so comparisons are really meaningless. A better comparison would be between closeup photos of the bergschrunds on the upper Boulder and Park Glaciers, to really see how much the cracks have opened and extended. Typically, such glaciers are moving at roughly a foot per day during the summer, although the velocity varies greatly from a maximum in the center and near icefalls to a minimum at the edges and terminus. Bergschrunds on such active glaciers can easily open several feet in a week, and extend their length by dozens of feet at either end. Have the crevasses opened wider in the past week? Absolutely certain and undebatable (they are not getting smaller and not staying the same either). How much have they widened? Let's see some closer photos from the July 5 group so we can make a more quantitative comparison.


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Paul Belitz on 07/14/04, 01:58 PM
Quote:
Hey Man...screw you're camera's clock & don't mess with the guy who outdrank everybody at Ben's party (with the exception of Sky and Amar)  >:(

Actually, we did sit around there for about 1/2 hr, so that put us there around 1:45.  BTW, I wasn't saying anything bad about anybody's time...never ever  8).  I was just trying to state how cool we were for skiing down the RWall at 5:45pm (near dark) January '03....you would have loved it Paul  ;D

Hahahahaha.

Amar, I was hoping that it was obvioius that my above posts were simply friendly ribbing of my friends. Hence the liberal use of emoticons, for example:
:) ;) :D ;D >:( 8) ??? Nowhere near personal attacks.


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: powscraper on 07/14/04, 04:25 PM
Ok, time to set the record straight.  Actually what happened was that 13 molecules of gaseous O3 collided at particularly high energy, causing a butterfly to cough on a leaf in Uganda, roughly two years before we set foot on the route.  The leaf caused the remaining 7 ozone particles to accelerate at an anomalous rate of speed toward the upper atmosphere, altering weather patterns sufficiently to give Emilio Esteves a particularly rich-hued tan.  An especially bronzed Esteves slept with an additional 4 women that night, and the resulting vibrations traveled around the earth 19 times before finally reaching a node of dissipation right under our feet at 1:16 pm Monday July 12th.  The tremor was unnoticeable to others in my group, but its results were unmistakeable: the skis practically jumped onto our feet in a considerably easier fashion.  Not being of mind to argue with this auspicious event, we obeyed the mysterious synchronicity of the universe and began our descent.  So really, it was all up to fate...

But all that really matters is that we went skiing.  In July.  Isn't that what it's all about?


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: philfort on 07/14/04, 05:24 PM
I thought it was all about the bounteous salmonberries on the trail!  yum!


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: powscraper on 07/14/04, 05:33 PM
The final crux of the climb was stopping just long enough to grab a salmonberry so that the black flies didn't get a chance to land...

And what's up with the red ones?  For some reason I just assumed that the red ones would be sweeter... ???


Title: Re: July 12, 2004, Mt Baker, Boulder-Park Cleaver
Post by: Paul Belitz on 07/14/04, 05:40 PM
There were a LOT of berries! I kept expecting to run into a bear and have to fend it off with my Whippets.  8)

Yeah, the red ones were gross. But still better than GU.


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