Turns All Year Trip Reports

2017 Backcountry Trip Reports => August 2017 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: mikerolfs on 08/01/17, 06:28 PM



Title: July 30,30 and Aug 1, 2017, Chiwawa Mt
Post by: mikerolfs on 08/01/17, 06:28 PM
If you want a conditions report: Here it is. Good corn, surface smooth enough, and continuous snow from the top all the way to the lake. Now is a great time to go ski this awesome line. Plan on some walking between Spider Gap and the upper Lyman Lakes.

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/jD7ljXO.jpg[/img]
Condition Report

Jtack and I planned a leisurely trip in to Spider Meadows with the logistical goal of both skiing first thing on Tuesday, August 1, and getting home to Wenatchee for a 2pm meeting that same day. The timing was perfect and we had plenty of time to stop and smell the flowers. Or swat the horseflies. Our itinerary:
Sunday - Hike to base of Spider Gl.
Monday - Ski Chiwawa and Spider Gl.
Tuesday - Ski SPider Gl again (for August turns!)

Sunday afternoon we left the car around 5:30pm to hike to the base of Spider Glacier to camp. This is a spectacular spot at the top of a waterfall overlooking Spider Meadow and surrounded by soaring snow-topped walls with water pouring off in all directions. We had deer, pika, marmot, hummingbird, chippy, and a few human and canine visitors too. Plus the sound of the water, a breeze, and full spring bloom at 6000 feet. We camped here both nights.

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/ww4cMS7.jpg[/img]
Water at camp

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Water above camp

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/mn8Ug5K.jpg[/img]
Flowers at camp

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Company at camp (some little furrball ate into Jamie's food bag over night - bastard!)

Anyway, this camp is great. On Monday morning, not too early, we headed up the Spider Glacier to Spider Gap and skied north and west toward the base of Chiwawa Mountain. One skis-off rock crossing and lots of overhead hazard. We both thought we'd like a helmet here, and we both realized that a helmet wouldn't probably help if something fell from 1000 feet above. We hurried through this section. It would be safer to ski straight toward the upper Lyman Lakes, and take the summer trail down to the lake, and then head west to the climb. This is the route we used on return.

[img width=1000 height=750]http://i.imgur.com/T1dd7qE.jpg[/img]
Skiing from Spider Gap

And then we spent the morning climbing and skiing the Lyman Glacier route on Chiwawa Mountain. It was one of the best skis I've had this year. Great snow. Interesting line - around exposed rock and glacier ice, around open crevasse - through narrow fingers and with steep sections. Just awesome. There is more snow on the upper mountain than last year this time, and less snow in the basin. The view from the top is awesome, with a great look down the Chiwawa River upper basin, and of course around the cascades. The view of Clark Mt. was particularly good. Since we weren't in a hurry, we had a snack and some water and enjoyed the view for a while. We were up there from around noon to around 1pm.

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/bP15K3t.jpg[/img]
Snow didn't quite go to the top. This transition was tricky!

[img width=1000 height=562]http://i.imgur.com/gYpSIaT.jpg[/img]
First turns. Steep here. Exciting skiing!

[img width=1000 height=750]http://i.imgur.com/JDfJ3qR.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/XaKC34v.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/nlSnUib.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=750]http://i.imgur.com/QyaVfpz.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/vZCYPPI.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/M8A0wpG.jpg[/img]

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/iDb5E19.jpg[/img]

We skied all the way to the lake and had another leisurely break admiring our tracks. Since we didn't have to walk out to the car, we had all the time in the world. We were done skiing around 1:30pm. We carried skis to the summer trail and walked uphill until we found continuous snow, and then skinned the rest of the way to spider gap where we lounged around again and chatted with a solo Lvwth hiker headed through to Holden. We headed down the Spider Glacier just as the shadows started across the snow around 5pm.

[img width=1000 height=750]http://i.imgur.com/34hk4rB.jpg[/img]
Carrying toward Spider Gap

The reason we weren't in a hurry is that we wanted to hang around to get August turns in the morning. We had plenty of time to consider options; Head back up and sleep at the top of the glacier? Eat at our lower camp and then head up for a midnight plus 1 minute ski? We decided to sleep at lower camp, and go for an AM lap first thing. Which we did.

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/sYB2ihg.jpg[/img]
6:30AM August 1.

Unless someone did a midnight ski last night, I'm going to guess that we may have gotten first turns for August. It didn't freeze, so the surface was still somewhat soft, and the skiing wasn't nearly as terrible as we thought it would be. We were back at camp before 7am for breakfast and then back to the car at 10:15am. Plenty of time to make my 2pm meeting. (which interfered with a grand suggestion by Jamie to stop for a beer at the Icicle Brewery).

By the way, last year, on July 24, I counted 38 logs across the trail. Pretty bad. Many that were not easy to step over. This year, a year and a week later, we counted 33. There are side-trails around the bad ones now, so at least that is easier. Is this the current trail clean-up rate? 5 logs per year? I can't whine to my wife. She'd tell me to stop complaining and go do something about it. Maybe I should buy a crosscut saw.

[img width=1000 height=749]http://i.imgur.com/0tk8jMs.jpg[/img]
Log number 24.

This three day approach to a ski that could be done as a day trip was AWESOME. This was the first time I've intentionally allotted more time than needed and it was great. We lounged and laughed and came home without aches. I feel like I've been on a vacation. Great trip.



Title: Re: July 30,30 and Aug 1, 2017, Chiwawa Mt
Post by: ShailCaesar! on 08/02/17, 10:13 AM
Thanks for that! Very refreshing as I sit here in the Okanagan Valley in the 38 degree celsius heat choking on forest fire smoke!


Title: Re: July 30,30 and Aug 1, 2017, Chiwawa Mt
Post by: jtack on 08/02/17, 10:43 AM
Mike, thanks for enticeing me on this great trip, one of the best of the whole year! 

Mike would have you believe this is a little hop skip and a jump trip.......it's not, but it is great value in spectacular country.  Fast travelers could do this in a day but it deserves more time to enjoy.

Oh, and thanks for that picture of me crawling on my belly like a reptile!


Title: Re: July 30,30 and Aug 1, 2017, Chiwawa Mt
Post by: Zap on 08/02/17, 01:18 PM
Great TR, photos and narrative.  ;)


Title: Re: July 30,30 and Aug 1, 2017, Chiwawa Mt
Post by: Lowell_Skoog on 08/02/17, 05:05 PM
Great TR!

Disappointing to hear about the trail condition.

Is this what "starving the beast" gets us?


Title: Re: July 30,30 and Aug 1, 2017, Chiwawa Mt
Post by: ps44 on 08/03/17, 03:13 PM
Great report & adventure.  It's on my list for the next year.

"Disappointing to hear about the trail condition.

Is this what "starving the beast" gets us?"

I was there last week (hiking with my daughter) so I can attest to the fact that things are deteriorating.  The road to TH is so rutted that I think one big October/November rainfall will make it all but undriveable. I suspect that forest service doesn't have funds for maintenance and/or hiring more personnel or whatever but I would like to know.  Sad.


Title: Re: July 30,30 and Aug 1, 2017, Chiwawa Mt
Post by: Chamois on 08/04/17, 10:46 AM
Very nice trip and looks like some decent turns for this time of the year.  Thanks for the photos.


Title: Re: July 30,30 and Aug 1, 2017, Chiwawa Mt
Post by: Scottk on 08/07/17, 10:51 AM
Quote from: ps44 on 08/03/17, 03:13 PM
The road to TH is so rutted that I think one big October/November rainfall will make it all but undriveable. I suspect that forest service doesn't have funds for maintenance and/or hiring more personnel or whatever but I would like to know.  Sad.

Sounds like a great trip. 

We went up the Phelps Creek road a couple years ago and it was a wallow-fest in the dust between the boulders.  Not comfortable in a CrV and we had to maneuver around a van that was high centered.  I don't think I'll be driving it again except in a truck.


Title: Re: July 30,30 and Aug 1, 2017, Chiwawa Mt
Post by: Mtraslin on 10/21/17, 12:23 PM
Good one. I will have to remember this for next summer.


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