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2003 Backcountry Trip Reports => July-August 2003 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: Amar Andalkar on 07/22/03, 06:00 PM

Title: July 20, 2003, Coleman Pinnacle & Ptarmigan Ridge
Post by: Amar Andalkar on 07/22/03, 06:00 PM
Well, after our plans for skiing Rainier/Emmons this weekend fell apart (again), David Coleman and I decided to head for Baker instead, since the road to Artist Point had just opened on Tuesday the 15th. We hoped to find enough snow to be able to skin most of the route out to the Sholes Glacier.

Perhaps our expectations were too high, but the warm summer has melted the snowpack significantly, and there is less snow on Ptarmigan Ridge now than in early-mid August last year. The trail is almost completely bare past the first saddle SW of Table Mountain, and then after a mile or so of continuous snow it is bare again past the south side of Coleman Pinnacle and all the way to the Sholes Glacier. In addition, the weather had unexpectedly turned foul on Sunday morning. Luckily we were under a patch of partly-sunny sky, but ominous clouds and showers were surrounding us and getting ever closer. As we rounded the Pinnacle, a few raindrops hit us and it looked like it would only get worse, so we decided to bag it and ski back even though it was just after 10 AM.

We climbed up the highest snow (about 6300 ft) on the north side of the knob just west of Coleman Pinnacle, as clouds and fog nearly enveloped us. We skied down the bowl to about 4800 ft in the Wells Creek drainage, on decent snow which was lightly suncupped and runneled, softened just a bit. A couple of climbing traverses and short ski runs netted about 600 more vft of skiing on the way back, for a meager total of 2100 vft for the day. Worst of all, the weather had been improving steadily on the way back, finally breaking to nearly full sunshine and the first clear views of the Park Glacier and Baker's summit just as we reached the hordes of tourists back at Artist Point.  I guess it was an OK trip, but we just expected more snow and also had really bad timing with the weather.  Things might have worked out great if we had just slept in and left Seattle 3 hours later.

Title: Re: July 20, 2003, Coleman Pinnacle & Ptarmigan Ri
Post by: Charles on 07/22/03, 06:35 PM
Thanks for the TR, Amar. I had recently been thinking about this trip as a possibility for early August and was about to start making inquiries. Is there continuous snow on the north side of the ridge, from your longer run back to the "first saddle SW of Table Mountain"?

Title: Re: July 20, 2003, Coleman Pinnacle & Ptarmigan Ri
Post by: Amar Andalkar on 07/22/03, 07:10 PM
It's not quite continuous even on the north side of the ridge, several rock bands have melted out and others are nearly done. We carried the skis most of the way back from Wells Creek to the saddle, it wasn't worth skinning or skiing most of it.  

Sholes Glacier looked to have fairly good coverage, except for a big section of old ice melted out in the middle.  I'll try to post some photos in the Ski Route Photos section soon.

Title: Re: July 20, 2003, Coleman Pinnacle & Ptarmigan Ri
Post by: curmudgeon on 07/24/03, 08:55 AM
I spent Friday night (July 18) on the Ridge between Coleman Pinnacle and Camp Kaiser. To approach, I skinned across the basin below the Pinnacle and saved maybe an hour from the bare trail around the S. side of CP (3 hours to camp).

Saturday I skied the Shoals Glacier and the bowl W. of CP. Surpisingly good corn on the steeper sections, roudy runnels down below. I didn't ski the Rainbow GL, but it looked like it had 1000' of primo corn waiting.

Title: Re: July 20, 2003, Coleman Pinnacle & Ptarmigan Ri
Post by: Charles on 07/24/03, 09:30 AM
Amar and Tim, thanks for the great info!

Title: Re: July 20, 2003, Coleman Pinnacle & Ptarmigan Ri
Post by: Alan Brunelle on 07/24/03, 06:16 PM
To confirm Tim's assessment I was there yesterday (Wed.) hiking and those areas just below CP and to the immediate west were great.  Nice corn, minimal suncups in the higher steeper sections.  Basically, anywhere you would want to ski.

I saw a great set of figure 8's further along on the ridge near the portals.  Also probably saw faint tracks from Amars venture.

It was so nice that I will be heading out there with my skis tomorrow before the crowds hit.


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