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2015 Backcountry Trip Reports => February 2015 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: Floater on 02/23/15, 07:52 PM



Title: February 21, 2015 Ski Bottleering in the Tatoosh
Post by: Floater on 02/23/15, 07:52 PM
This is a description of -4 skiing.  The scale goes from +10 to -10. 

We were planning to go to the Paradise Glacier possible the Turtle or perhaps the Nisqually Chutes.  However, when we reached the parking lot it was actually cool and a wind was blowing that made us leery of up high.  There actually looked like an unusual thing had happened for this winter of 2014 to 2015 there was a miniscule amount of snow on the trees.  With a magnifying glass I could actually see some not kidding.  Thus we made the decision to go out toward Mazama Ridge.  Well we got there and we noticed a very small skiff of what could be powder on the solid and firm base, but it skied well like +2 which is incredible this season for elevations below 6000. 

We got this wonderful idea to head over Mazama Ridge drop down the other side toward Reflection Lakes and head to the Tatoosh.  We had first attempted to follow the road around but we literally ran out of snow........no snow that becomes -10.  After beating brush we made it over Mazama and started down the other side.  This skiing fluctuated between -3 and -10.  This was crusty ice punctuated to areas having no snow, logs brush and what have you.  We then crossed over the road and headed up to the saddle next to the Castle.  The skin up was unbelievably bad and we made several switches from skinning to bootpacking so we were doing some -5 uphill skinning.  I assumed when we hit the open bowl area below the saddle it would be awesome, but when we looked up the snow looked like the shiny white fiberglass hull of a water ski boat. I used some four letter words to describe the phenomena and proceeded to have a major meltdown.  This is totally unsat.  >:(

I had at least three melt downs trying to skin up this nasty stuff after falling on my tush and had to resort again to boot packing and using my whippet.  We finally attained the Saddle.  There was just microdustings of pow on this nasty hard plastic surface.  Normally you would be just angry about this whole situation, but skiing would soon be great.  Remember we are ski bottleers.  We carry stuff to deal with this nonsense and it is not ski crampons.  Instead out comes the quart of home made hard cider Meade I had packed up as protection against such wonderful conditions.  It does wonderful things.

We looked down the South aspect and it looked wonderful.  We dropped down this other side and skied the first 500 vertical.  It is amazing what the cider does.  There was 1" of soft stuff and a carvable base and it skied decent at +4!!  The only problem was after 500 vert the snow started to disappear.  We skinned back up to the Saddle and polished off the second half of the cider.  Now we were ready to hit the -3 skiing.  Oh with the cider it quickly becomes +2 even though it was pure boiler plate I mean nasty.  We skied out our typical run named for Brenda who was one of the best Tele skiers of all.  It still had avalanche rubble on it from two months ago!  It was a bone rattling experience but the cider makes such snow quite skiable.  We are talking some -4 (on cider +2).  Oh and were shocked at what lay before us.  As noted in the pictures below there was actually big bare spots in the bottom part of the basin.  ;D 

On the way out we skied the Refrigerator.  My partner is an expert on the conditions on this run that are normally in bad years usually good.  Sadly the influence of the cider had left him so he gave it a rating of -4, I was still sauced it was clearly a +3.  Cider and halter tops that is what has saved this year......sadly we did not see any of the latter.  Motto for 2014-2015: stay out of the Tatoosh, go high, and ride dirty. ;)

I tried posting pictures, but it said I exceeded the file size.


Title: Re: February 21, 2015 Ski Bottleering in the Tatoosh
Post by: Salal on 02/23/15, 08:14 PM
Thanks for the report. So strange to not have a day in the tatoosh this year. I have nice memories of running into Brenda at the castle saddle back when I was on snowshoes with a board on my pack. She was always so kind to us punching holes in the skin track.


Title: Re: February 21, 2015 Ski Bottleering in the Tatoosh
Post by: avajane on 02/23/15, 08:25 PM
Sorry about your day ::) but I'm glad to have read this hilarious report!


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