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2012 Backcountry Trip Reports => April 2012 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: hedonaut on 04/18/12, 09:03 PM



Title: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: hedonaut on 04/18/12, 09:03 PM
On the 15th I skied this 2,500’+ line in great condition.  After tagging the summit (airy mixed moves on the rimed and sugary summit block) in the early a.m. and soaking in the views, my skis took me from maybe 70’ below the peak on a firm southward traverse along the summit ridge to an icy and discontinuous short S-facing chute.  With two tools I down-climbed this, landing near the top of a big patch of snow coming off the summit ridge, exposed to sheer cliffs.  From here (c. 7400’) I could ski the rest.  The patch offered a nice low-angle warm-up on chalky powder then a firm but softening crust—a relief, as nearly all the climb up seemed impossibly frozen bulletproof.  From where the summit ridge patch rolled over the huge drop, I descended skier’s right via a narrow ribbon of snow (about a ski length in width) on a ramp to arrive at the head of the business: over 2,000’ of dreamy, creamy corn, steep-ish (averaging 40+ degrees), with a couple quite steep sections and cruxes including a rock band and a small ‘schrund.  These were just skiable (briefly busted out an axe for the first crux), and probably won’t be in that kind of shape for much longer, a couple weeks maybe.  There was a little avy debris from earlier in the week, but much of it could be avoided in favor of smooth slopes.

Overall an amazing ski mountaineering experience; felt all the more “out there” as no other souls were seen from the time I left Highway 101, aside from the many bear and cat tracks.  The Olympics are no joke—felt like a rugged Cascades trip, as game-on as many higher peaks. 

Don’t see many Olympics reports, funny coincidence to see folks ski South Brother the same weekend (nice report!) as I logged on to post this.

Here are a couple photos.  This one looks up the majority of the business.  The line goes to prominent cliff near top and exits up and right on the slanting ribbon/ramp.
[img width=600 height=800]https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-4-L3LBm5RKs/T4-DtmmGb4I/AAAAAAAAJAM/9zLwH_Mt2PM/s800/IMG_1128.JPG[/img]

From near the summit, looking at the southward ski traverse towards the main line; The Brothers in background.
[img width=800]https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-pmEc0mU6pS4/T4-D0MEMaiI/AAAAAAAAJAs/bdcmmciaUY0/s800/IMG_1138.JPG[/img]

There’s skiing in these here parts.  Mt Olympus left background.
[img width=800]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-KgtqGCO9Dww/T4-D7H3p4lI/AAAAAAAAJBM/RhjjCGxp9k0/s800/IMG_1147.JPG[/img]

Puget Sound was socked in when I hit the summit, unfortunately.
[img width=800]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Yya4XdyBdOY/T4-D9zy7JVI/AAAAAAAAJBc/YxsZ0uXM3RI/s800/IMG_1149.JPG[/img]

First crux: above that little tree onto a thin ramp that accesses the goods.
[img width=600 height=800]https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-tefXyHiAP8M/T4-EMm5WwkI/AAAAAAAAJCk/VzO54k0dK3A/s800/IMG_1172.JPG[/img]

Where the continuous fun began.
[img width=800]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-m8hh6VXzlao/T4-EOe-ltQI/AAAAAAAAJC0/UD0PwSypHNs/s800/IMG_1174.JPG[/img]

Sweet.  The next spicy bit is barely visible through the rocks.  The Tunnel Creek divide is in the background.
[img width=800]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sZts3efdUIM/T4-EQMP3n0I/AAAAAAAAJC8/eaVTRMqLb4s/s800/IMG_1179.JPG[/img]

More pics here: https://picasaweb.google.com/ewehrly/2012_04_15MtConstanceEastFaceSki?authuser=0&feat=directlink

I spied this from Seattle on a Discovery Park run earlier in the week, the east face looking awfully fat with snow.  Made a late-week decision to have a go.  No partners materialized, so I finally got going late on Friday.  Ruled out the Dosewallips (and other approaches) due to their exposure to avy-prone slopes, settling on the relatively safe North Fork of Tunnel Creek approach.  Don’t be an idiot like me and try to on-sight this approach during the night with two non-functioning compasses.  I suppose a GPS would shine for a night assault or single push—it would be a loooong day.


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: ryanl on 04/18/12, 09:44 PM
$$$$$$$$!!!!!!!!!!

Awesome dude! you, sir, are a gamer. Way to get it.

But why you skiing those skinny red things?


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: Gary_H on 04/18/12, 10:15 PM
Quote from: ryanl on 04/18/12, 09:44 PM
$$$$$$$$!!!!!!!!!!

Awesome dude! you, sir, are a gamer. Way to get it.



Couldn't have said it better. Good approach route choice.

Just because you don't see a lot of Olympics reports doesn't mean the Peninsula skiers aren't out there getting after it.  ;)

Gary


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: philfort on 04/18/12, 11:12 PM
Hey, very nice! Ryan and I and co tried it a few years ago as a day trip, but ran out of time (and sort of took a wrong turn in the main gully). Glad it worked out for you.  Great that this line is so visible from Seattle.

I thought the approach was kind of a bear, and I think if I go back I'd try the valley where the trail is, and then pop over the ridge into that basin. Couple extra thousand vertical, but it might be worth it.

Was the road totally driveable?


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: cumulus on 04/19/12, 12:14 AM
Quote from: hedonaut on 04/18/12, 09:03 PM
I spied this from Seattle on a Discovery Park run earlier in the week


love it!  Fantastic line!


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: hipystix on 04/19/12, 06:03 AM
Very Nice Job!! I think your timing was perfect for good conditions too.

Eric


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: RossMac on 04/19/12, 06:04 AM
very impressive!  Great TR and photos.


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: Stefan on 04/19/12, 09:34 AM
now this is great!


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: Salal on 04/19/12, 09:42 AM
Very nice! I went up the tunnel creek way solo earlier this year and that east face wasnt looking so hot.  Way to get it. I love mt constance.


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: hedonaut on 04/19/12, 09:45 AM
Thanks for the comments, really enjoyed this trip and highly recommend it!  The first pic above is quite foreshortened, found a couple that show the complete route a little better.

Go up the gully feature to the cliff band, then pop out right onto the small patch, then near the ridge top find a way to continue right through the rocky ridge-line (up the icy chute, a climbing crux) to the big patch, make for the summit block.
(http://www.climbersguideolympics.com/_/rsrc/1264153867832/peaks/constance-buckhorn-group/mount-constance/Mount%20Constance%20Moon%20Shot%20by%20Don%20Paulson.jpg)

Larger perspective presumably from Seattle, Brothers on left and Constance on right, the line appears to be a left-facing corner coming down from left of the summit in this shot.
[img width=800]http://www.drdale.com/cam/olympics0205.jpg[/img]
This is approx. the view I have gawked at from Seattle for years, wondering if the line could be skied...

Phil, I also had considered your proposed approach, and think it's probably better.  It seemed less of a sure thing w/o hindsight; now that I've seen the other side of that ridge, I'm pretty confident that the S Fork trail to the up-and-over approach would go, and would prefer that to the burly 'shwack of the N Fork.  There'd still be greater stability concerns that way, but they look minor with all those trees.

The road had enough snow that I parked where the abandoned N Fork road leaves the main road.  I bet you can get up another 1/2 mile or so by now, leaving a mile or so of road skinning.  Someone go get it while there's lots of snow and corn!


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: lrudholm on 04/19/12, 09:55 AM
Now every time you go to discovery you get to tell someone what you skied.


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: ~Link~ on 04/19/12, 09:32 PM
Excellent TR!  It's true, there were a few souls deep within the Olympics over the weekend...  8) 



Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: Jason_H. on 04/20/12, 08:00 AM
Awesome times! Nice line. Looks like killer conditions.

Phil, I always loved your crazy ideas for lines. Too bad we cliffed out on this one. 


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: esvege on 04/20/12, 08:29 AM
I'm glad it worked out for you Eric, nice job!  Regret not joining you on this one, hanging out in the clouds was not what i was hoping for.


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: danpeck on 04/20/12, 10:54 AM
Amazing!

I'm new to the PNW and I live in Poulsbo and the Olympics are my new backyard and skiing playground.  So... anytime you want a partner to ski the Olympics or the Cascades, send me a PM.  I'm just looking for people to ski with.

I look at constance every day and have wanted to ski the very line you skied.  Awesome TR... great for future reference.  The other pictures are great... the skiable terrain in the distance you mentioned  surrounds Mt. Deception and Royal Basin.  I've skied there once and would like to go back.  Not to mention traversing from Obstruction point to the lillian glacier.  ... so much to do.  Thanks for posting and skiing!


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: chrism on 04/20/12, 12:01 PM
Wow, nice line.  Thanks for posting and also for the great shots of some of the rest of the terrain out there. 

Especially cool that it can be seen from the city.  It would be great to see Puget Sound on the decent, but there's definitely something special about cloud decks as well.


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: RonL on 04/20/12, 06:00 PM
Great trip! I have puzzled over this one for a while. That route doesn't make it look any easier than I imagined. Thanks for all the photos. They filled in a few blanks for me.


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: packrat on 04/20/12, 09:18 PM
Thanks for the report.  It is good to see reports from the Olympic Mountains.

I think this picture is from Dr. Dales webcam (http://www.drdale.com/cam/) near Seabeck.
Quote from: hedonaut on 04/19/12, 09:45 AM
Larger perspective presumably from Seattle, Brothers on left and Constance on right, the line appears to be a left-facing corner coming down from left of the summit in this shot.
[img width=800]http://www.drdale.com/cam/olympics0205.jpg[/img]




Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: Gregg_C on 04/20/12, 09:40 PM
Very impressive.  Loved all the pictures.  Thanks for posting this.  (Plus, glad I never get the call on these steep and scary missions :)  Really like being an armchair mountaineer ....)


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: samthaman on 04/20/12, 10:27 PM
love the olympics TR's! those mountains made me fall in love with WA and want to move here


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: runcle on 04/21/12, 07:38 PM
Very inspiring TR and great pics! Thanks for posting.


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: hedonaut on 04/23/12, 11:18 PM
samthaman, know what you mean.  I have a vivid memory of driving my old car (the land-yacht) loaded w/ meager belongings to Seattle straight from undergrad school, and on I90 nearing Bellevue, some other similarly packed blokes had pulled over to take a picture sitting on top of their truck roof w/ the Olympics in the background--such was the stoke.  Pretty compelling joint we live in.

Thanks packrat, was a bit overhasty in posting those pics.  I gather that dr dale's webcam is located near Silverdale.  The sources for those two pics:
http://www.climbersguideolympics.com/_/rsrc/1264153867832/peaks/constance-buckhorn-group/mount-constance/Mount%20Constance%20Moon%20Shot%
http://www.drdale.com/cam/olympics0205.jpg 

Anybody have a better pic from Seattle?  Saw the range from near Phinney Ridge yesterday and it looked weirdly magnified...


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: packrat on 04/27/12, 07:12 PM
Check this trip report from nwhikers.net.  There is a close up picture of Mt. Constance.  I don't know if it shows your route.

Link (http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7995761)


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: tabski on 04/28/12, 12:52 AM
Dang whippersnappers snagging new routes.


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: chmnyboy on 04/28/12, 09:35 AM
Holy smokes, awesome line!


Title: Re: Apr 15 2012 Mt Constance East Face
Post by: roald on 05/24/12, 10:16 PM
Somebody should give out trophies for this stuff.  This would be another one.  But then, your friggin' closet would be full.  Thanks for the pics and story.


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