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2016 Backcountry Trip Reports => January 2016 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: radka on 01/05/16, 10:00 PM



Title: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: radka on 01/05/16, 10:00 PM
Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park Traverse

Trip report by Chris
Photos by Radka

Day 1

Given the forecast for temperature inversion, blue skies, and existing low snow levels (ie. Mt. Si first descents), we decided to hit the Olympics for the Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park traverse. Our only dilemma for this trip was the classic traverse logistic of car shuttle. Radka put out a plea for help and we were fortunate enough to get a response from “Abert” on nwhikers. We met Abert in Sequim on Friday, drove to the gate on Deer Park Road, dropped our car off, and then headed up to Hurricane Ridge. There was enough snow at the Deer Park gate that we decided not to bring shoes for the road on the descent, hoping we’d be able to ski the entire road back, or at least most of it.

The temperatures continued to rise on the drive up to Hurricane Ridge with about 37F at the top. After a pleasant drive with our new super nice and humble friend, Abert, dropped us off at Obstruction Peak Road and bid us farewell. Thanks again Abert! The first part of the road is downhill so we started without skins and were able to go about 5 minutes before the road started to climb. We put skins on and wondered how long we’d be able to go before the glopping started.

The road had a broken trail almost the entire way to the first switchback near Eagle Point. By this point my skins were already horribly glopping but Radka’s were fine. Both of us were getting quite a bit of foot pain too since long flat road skinning tends to bring out the worst in boot fits. This was also my first trip in my new foot-beds with my AT boots. Fortunately, I was able to correct the issue by removing a piece of padding under my heel. We met a couple snow shoeing and camping here, then didn’t see anyone else for the next 2 days.

Despite clear evidence of wind, we settled on point 6032’ for camp, since we wouldn’t need skis to walk around camp for photographing and the views were awesome. Once the sun set, a slight breeze came in for about 30 minutes, then disappeared completely. We enjoyed a very calm night and around 12 hours of sleep. No problem getting through the long nights here!

Surveying our campsite
[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-BSKgzBw/0/XL/RAD_0573-XL.jpg[/img]


End of first day of 2016
[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-FFFnpqQ/0/XL/RAD_0580-XL.jpg[/img]

Views in all directions
[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-mcsvfQF/0/XL/RAD_0606-XL.jpg[/img]

Camping under the stars
[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-R5Tp6Ms/0/XL/RAD_0642-Edit-XL.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-KKW2VGc/0/XL/RAD_0649-XL.jpg[/img]



Day 2
We were up for the sunrise and enjoyed the alpenglow on Mt. Olympus and surrounding peaks.

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-2bCSSHR/0/XL/RAD_0652-XL.jpg[/img]

After breaking camp, we had a short ski down the SE-ridge-wind-scoured-slope, side stepping a few rocky spots. We put skins on and headed east along the corniced ridge to Obstruction Point. We decided to follow the suggested route around Obstruction Point on its NW slope to the SW shoulder of Elk Mountain. This route goes pretty well. There are 2 ribs with semi-steep entrances but not difficult to navigate. There were a couple crowns at the top of Obstruction Point and covered debris at the bottom below. Crossing the NW Slope was uneventful. There was a 1-2” wind crust in places but soft powder underneath. As we approached the SW shoulder of Elk, we could see snow blowing off the ridge top. Well, looks like we were going to have a bit of breeze today.


[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-hw5Vmfd/0/XL/RAD_0706-XL.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-4Nt6mP7/0/XL/RAD_0716-XL.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-SMWtGLb/0/XL/RAD_0731-XL.jpg[/img]


Once we reached the ridgeline, lots of wind scoured slopes came in to view. A lot more of the Olympic Range came in to view, too. We noted that one could easily spend weeks out in this pocket skiing different slopes and lines every day. Not too familiar with the range, we weren’t entirely sure what we were looking at most of the time, but it was gorgeous!

The skin and traverse across Elk from here consisted of sastrugi, bare ground, boilerplate ice, and various forms of crust. We hit 2 high points along Elk. The USGS 24k says 6779’ is the highest point on Elk, but once there, we found 6773’ still looked higher. When we reached 6773’, the USGS marker was there. The east shoulder of Elk had the steepest terrain the entire traverse, and the point where the summer trail switchbacks, we used ski crampons for a short section. There is a second sharp rib shortly after this section, and steep enough that we decided to ski traverse it since we were still travelling with skins on at this point. Just after this part the saddle between Elk and Maiden Peak is reached.

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-pVwNr2s/0/XL/RAD_0743-XL.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-vWfcMwX/0/XL/RAD_0753-XL.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-N3CPbgD/0/XL/RAD_0775-XL.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-hJsNRXc/0/XL/RAD_0780-XL.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-nRM79Hn/0/XL/RAD_0789-XL.jpg[/img]


Coming around Maiden Peak was more wind scoured slopes. We topped out on Maiden and noticed our new GPS (Henry) was already low on batteries, only 4 hours after getting fresh batteries. Guess we need to customize more of the settings to maximize the battery. We came off Maiden and had less than an hour of sunlight left in the day. We settled on a camp in the saddle between Maiden and point 6319’. Despite evidence of frequent winds, and a steady breeze all day, we hoped this night would be like the last, calm. Such was not the case and we experienced steady winds all night. After joking the past 2 days in balmy weather about how Hurricane Ridge got its name, we experienced it at sub-tropical storm levels. Despite the winds, we stayed toasty warm in our tent, because of our early anniversary gifts, new Neo-Air Xtherm Pads and down pants.

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-wHs9GDQ/0/XL/RAD_0848-Edit-XL.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-dFF8SBH/0/XL/RAD_0853-Edit-XL.jpg[/img]


[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-qtsQgkM/0/XL/RAD_0850-Edit-XL.jpg[/img]

Day 3
Sleep was challenging during the night but I still managed to get 8 hours I think. Radka said she only got an hour. We didn’t get out of the tent until the sun was about to hit it. It was pretty remarkable to see how much snow moved during the night - at least a foot in places. We spent some time digging out the areas around the tent before getting started on breakfast. We left camp much later today, around 10:30.

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-LbBL3d9/0/XL/RAD_0857-XL.jpg[/img]


The traverse around point 6319’ has one steep rib. After that it was pretty mellow getting back to Deer Park. We kept skins on until we rounded high point 5390’ past Green Mountain since there are a few ups and flats along the ridge. It was a nice cruise down to the saddle before climbing up to Deer Park. We made the Deer Park road around 2:15pm and we were excited to ski the road back to the gate. The first few hundred of the road were hard to slide on since there was no track, it wasn’t quite steep enough, and our skis needed more wax. After the first turn, we hit an existing track which was very useful to pick up speed and keep the gliding going. In about 10 minutes, we ran in to a couple skinning up the road. They informed us we would be able to ski all the way back to the gate, woo whoo! The middle section of the road has a few flat areas requiring poling. Otherwise, the closer we got to the gate the more traffic was evident, and the existing packed track became wider. It took about 50 minutes to ski the road and confirmed the timing was right for this awesome trip! Thanks again to Abert for making this trip happen for us too!

[img width=1000 height=667]https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2016/Hurricane-Ridge-to-Deer-Park-Jan/i-RB4QWV6/0/XL/RAD_0893-XL.jpg[/img]




Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: jtack on 01/06/16, 06:33 AM
Thanks for the great report, I love the first night ambient lite shot! Way to play the weather too.


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: nemolonsdale on 01/06/16, 07:01 AM
Many good pics, those night shots are amazing. Thanks for sharing!


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: runcle on 01/06/16, 09:52 AM
Looks like a nice place especially through YOUR camera ;) Thanks for posting!


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: Gary_H on 01/06/16, 12:36 PM
Great report and photos! My wife and I have also done this traverse, the views in all directions are outstanding. Glad the shuttle worked out.


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: radka on 01/06/16, 12:45 PM
Thank you everybody for your kind comments! This traverse really has high reward for not being very strenuous or technically difficult.

We posted a report on NWHikers with more photos and descriptions that some of you may find useful: http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1039773#1039773

We ran into some wonderful people on our trip, starting with "Abert", of course.

If you can't find anybody to give you a ride, you can contact Willie Nelson at All Points Charters in Port Angeles who was also able to give us a ride and was very flexible with pick up times. But nothing like getting to know local hikers!


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: JW on 01/07/16, 02:36 PM
I thought I saw you pass Jenn and I in the parking lot ...  nice report ... Jerry


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: cchapin on 01/07/16, 11:15 PM
Hey Jerry, yeah I didn't want to ask our new friend to wait for us to converse since he was dropping us off at Obstruction Point Rd. Glad you found the goods on the N facing slopes!


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: Garth_Ferber on 01/09/16, 12:42 PM
wow nice photos of a great trip!


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: discostew on 01/11/16, 12:14 PM
Your photos always make me want to get more into mountain photography. Then I remember that I'm too lazy to learn how to take great pictures and too fat to haul a giant camera up a mountain.


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: RonL on 01/12/16, 08:42 AM
Did you two, or anyone else who has done this trip, get any pics or notice an abrupt change in the snow levels? The snotel sites really highlight the differences between both ends of this traverse. I am just curious if it feels gradual or if there is a noticeable line where the rain shadow falls.


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: Lowell_Skoog on 01/12/16, 03:45 PM
Quote from: RonL on 01/12/16, 08:42 AM
Did you two, or anyone else who has done this trip, get any pics or notice an abrupt change in the snow levels? The snotel sites really highlight the differences between both ends of this traverse. I am just curious if it feels gradual or if there is a noticeable line where the rain shadow falls.


When I skied the traverse in Feb 2006, I seem to recall a significant difference in snow cover between Elk Mountain and Maiden Peak. When we did the trip, the south side of Maiden was almost blown clear of snow, and we traversed it via a ribbon of snow on the hiking trail. But once we got around to the east side of Maiden, the coverage was reasonable again. We couldn't ski whole Deer Park road though, not by a long shot.


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: cchapin on 01/13/16, 11:19 AM
Quote from: RonL on 01/12/16, 08:42 AM
Did you two, or anyone else who has done this trip, get any pics or notice an abrupt change in the snow levels? The snotel sites really highlight the differences between both ends of this traverse. I am just curious if it feels gradual or if there is a noticeable line where the rain shadow falls.

There wasn't any noticeable difference in snow levels from our perspective. The S slopes on Maiden and Elk were very similar for us - quite shallow with rocks sticking out in many places.


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: Gary_H on 01/13/16, 11:35 AM
Quote from: RonL on 01/12/16, 08:42 AM
Did you two, or anyone else who has done this trip, get any pics or notice an abrupt change in the snow levels? The snotel sites really highlight the differences between both ends of this traverse. I am just curious if it feels gradual or if there is a noticeable line where the rain shadow falls.


We did this traverse on May 9,2008, here are 3 shots which show how the snowpack varied from Obstruction Point to Deer Park. Except for the stretch from Elk Mountain to Maiden Peak the coverage was excellent. We were able to ski about half way down the Deer Park Road to where we had left our mountain bikes a couple days earlier.
     1. Jan at Obstruction Point, Elk Mountain in the background
     2. Looking east from Elk Mountain to Maiden Peak. Maiden is the peak furthest back of the 3
     3. Jan at Deer Park

I wonder how much of this difference is the result of the rain shadow affect and how much is wind transport. We have skied the chutes on the north side of Elk Mountain well into July in good snow years.

Gary


Title: Re: Jan 1-3, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park
Post by: RonL on 01/13/16, 01:02 PM
Interesting, I have seen the rainshadow usually pictured as a circle NE of Olympus and that may take in Blue and Maiden, but I have always had trouble visualizing where it would fall outside of the towns with regular weather reports. Blue mtn. with just around a couple feet if that was clearly different than Hurricane ridge at a similar elevation though.


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