Title: June 12, 2005, Point 9,360 Green Butte, Mt Shasta
Post by: MW88888888 on 07/11/05, 07:43 PM
[continued from June 11, Diller Canyon, Mt Shasta]
Point 9,360, Green Butte, Mount Shasta
Total Ascent/Descent: 9,360 - 6,900' Bunny Flats => 2,460'
Up at 5 am and on the road to Bunny Flats at the end of the Everett Parkway. The parking lot is quite still and we are on snow by 6 am. There are groups preparing in the dawn and people emerging from cars and tents, another day of fun at the Carnival begins.
We leave the Avalanche Gulch trail (and the crowds) almost immediately and follow faint boot tracks from the day before, the snow a very hard frozee-froze in the cool morning air.
We soon lost the boot track on our climb up to the ridge, but no matter, we find the ridge top has a staircase set already and we enjoy wonderful views on the exposed ridge. To our left rose the gigantic Avalanche Gulch with its characteristic Red Rocks capping the skyline and to our right Green Butte and above the huge Old Ski Bowl.
It was a spectacular day. In the cold morning light we could see the black dots of climbers leaving Helen Lake far above us like a swarm of killer bees sensing a threat and attacking in mass. It was quite a sight. I had witnessed a similar phenomenon on a similar Sunday, confirming that Summit Day was definitely Sunday for the 9 to 5 world!
I heard them before I spotted them, above us out in The Old Ski bowl. As we reached the summit of our climb for the day, our elation is replaced by puzzlement and mute disappointment. A beautiful wilderness moment is pissed all over.
The two snowmobiles whined up and down the canyon walls of the Old Ski Bowl directly below us, buzzing our party (apparently they might have thought we looked on in envy? Certainly they saw us on the rocky summit looking down), round after round, up and down the canyon walls, wwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, wwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeee, WEEEEEEEE - We gazed down on the two in horror.
Down on our left was the quiet Avalanche Gulch Canyon, an idyllic mountain scene where hundreds of tiny vacationers reveled in the illusion of wilderness in quiet and peace. While on our right, two whining, obnoxious, in-your-face American-made Funsters puked all over nature on gas guzzling and carbon monoxide farting machines. It was amazing what only two could do to the ambiance of the whole canyon. I could only imagine if there were a squadron - the noise and the stench! Upon each pass of the highmarking duo, a foul stench of two-stroke gasoline assailed our pinnacle reminding me in every breath why it was so good to leave the city every now and then.
What an awful depressing scene. I broke out my map out to see where the Wilderness Boundary extended, and sure enough, it bent around the drainage of the abandoned ski area to accommodate the old operation, and we realized they had every right to be in the canyon as we did. Oh well. Maybe the juxtaposition of right and wrong, evil and good, sanity and insanity was too much for me. The scene just made me want to cry out to the good lord John Muir, "Oh Lord, Do Not Forsake Us, for We Know Not What We Do!?"
The only sensible thing to do was to forget this scene with a fantastic ski. Our departure was a little premature, it would have been nice to wait a bit longer or even ski into the Old Ski bowl as some areas had nice Eastern exposures. At the crack of 10 am we skied off the little point and down onto the ridge above Powder Bowl. Luckily, with even a little vertical the sound of gasoline engines died away. The snow on the northerly sections of the ridge was still rock hard, but the snow was softening nicely on the slopes dropping into the bowl. We skied the far right side down new terrain, enjoying steep corn which received the most morning light. We each play down the prow and whoop it up in the bright sunshine.
We try out new terrain I spied on a previous visit with Sean and Mike Smith in the Powder Bowl drainage, and the snow bridge along the ridgeline that connects our intended route with the mainland provides a fantastic entrance exam to the new terrain. The steep face below the ridge top is perfect corn, and a huge bus-sized boulder rests at its base.
Should we boulder? But of course!
Another bouldering session ensues, this time savoring the last views of the turns above us and around us, the silence of Powder Bowl and the last turns ahead into the old growth forest. Soon we'd be back on the road for Seattle.
The skiing in the old growth forest (about 700 VF to the road) was better than expected. Usually the end run into the trees is a tree well avoidance dance, trying to maintain speed and a steady course, but these trees offered something more. The snow was still very deep and the trees very widely spaced. The corn was soft yet hard underneath (it's still only 10:30 am, remember) making for very pleasant turns. We danced in and out of the deep grove, chasing each other and whooping it up until eventually we emerged at the base of Sundown Bowl and the snow covered access road.
The firm snow and gentle grade of the road allowed us to glide all the way back to car, with a final few turns in to the field behind the car just for good luck.
The tourist traffic was heavy in the lot and we changed out of ski gear into travel garb in a flash, prepping for the long journey to come. We each carried large smiles of a successful tour and reminisced about our favorite moments. We had skied three sides of Mt Shasta in four days and while the nine hour drive home is relentless, the still-fresh images of 15,000 VF of corn kept our spirits high. The extended stillness of our bodies also proves refreshing in its own right.