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2003 Backcountry Trip Reports => July-August 2003 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: David_Coleman on 08/31/03, 05:44 PM



Title: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: David_Coleman on 08/31/03, 05:44 PM
After viewing some relatively recent photos posted by Charles, I had asked Sky if he was so inclined to give skiing the Park a shot.  Of course he said yes, as he's never known to turn down a chance to ski.  Paul joined us for what would be a great tour.  We left the car at Artist Point Saturday afternoon around 4, and we were all set up at camp sometime after 8 and the start of the Sholes Glacier.

Left camp at 5:50am and made our way through the Portals.  Roped up along the ridgeline of the Rainbow, and scouted some potential routes that looked as if they would go.  Made our way up the 1st 2 sections with little crevasse problems.  Once we reached 7,000'+ began the effort of finding a way through.  After some decent effort up one route, we found a sketchy bridge crossing that (at least for 2 of us, was a bit out of our comfort level).  After backtracking we found a route that we initially scouted that went.  Gaining another 1,000' + feet we were eventually stopped by a very large crevasse leading to an island of no-mans-land.  Breaking here for a few minutes, we decided to backtrack based on Sky's scouting of the route earlier.

We eventually crossed slightly lower than the spot Sky had suggested, which allowed us to gain another 600' + feet.  At this point we were bridgeless and forced to detour.  Decided to call it quits here (elev. approx. 8,600'), we unroped and prep'd for skiing this slope.  Sky was indicating that if we descended a portion of the slope, there was a way to connect left that would have lead us to the upper portion of the Park Glacier.  Paul and I had our share of fun on this day (me, for one, punching through to my knee on 1 snowbridge leading to a real yawner), conditions were softening and we just wanted to ski.  Besides, our closer look of the Park Headwall and the entire ridgeline revealed too much debri given our relatively close-up view as compared to camp.  Nontheless, a ski descent from the base of the headwall 'shrund would have been epic.

After deciding to ski down the first slope, we decided to traverse back over towards the cleaver to ski an excellent portion of the Park a couple of times that was slowly turning into the perfect corn and containing no cups/runnells whatsoever.  After this, we followed our bootpack back down to the lower flanks of the glacier.  Looking back from the Sholes the tracks were in all their glory starting about half way down the mountain in the vicinity of serac/crevasse combo we were tangled with for most of the day.

An absolutely epic tour, and long approach to Baker itself from Artist Point, but we'll be back.


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: David_Coleman on 08/31/03, 05:48 PM
Hey Charles, accidentally hit the back key and posted this trip twice.  Sorry for the inconvenience, if any, it's been a looong day.


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: Paul Belitz on 08/31/03, 05:59 PM
Arrgh, Dave, you beat me to it. The climb was really fun, with great scenery, seracs, and crevasses. It was really too bad that we were cut off, as we were SO close to the upper snowfield that would have made for more great skiing. But, so is life. Sky even sold his soul and turned into a backcountry skier, skiing laps on the snowfield below the seracs. He's turned into a yo-yo skier! Poor summits....:-(

Beware the tourons, next time I'm taking a sign saying "These are NOT skis, and I'm NOT going skiing, and YES, they're heavy" and hanging if off of my pack. Talk about annoying....

Too bad we didn't get our september turns in yet, but the glaciers won't melt in a day....


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: Paul Belitz on 08/31/03, 06:01 PM
Oh, yeah, Dave, you can remove your previous post by clicking the 'remove' button.


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: David_Coleman on 08/31/03, 06:56 PM
Now, now Paul...this isn't CC Climbers.com so there's no need to point fingers at bc skiers.  We're all in search of that dream ski to one degree or another  ;)

Thanks for deleting the repeat post.


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: David_Coleman on 08/31/03, 07:15 PM
Hey Paul - Sky was scoping the topo, looks like my altimeter could have been off as we likely topped out slightly over 9,000'.


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: skykilo on 08/31/03, 09:48 PM
No way I sold my soul.  I'm saving it to sell by the end of September, in exchange for seven months of epic powder, followed by a beautiful spring and summer.  I'm doing this for everyone... resort skiers, ski mountaineers, yo-yo skiers, telemarkers, and even snowboarders.  Cheers!


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: Alan Brunelle on 09/01/03, 04:47 PM
David,

One question that I posted to Random Tracks but haven't gotten an answer to:  Do you approach the Portals by gaining the Sholes glacier early on and then staying on the NW side of the ridge?  Did you stay high and descend the steep area just below the NE point of the Portals or did you pass that gaping crack on the Sholes by passing below it?  Did this question make any sense to you?

Actually, when I hiked to the point that is above the Portals, I noted what appear to be pretty good skiing from below the SW point of the Portals down to the Rainbow glacier.  If not good now, I think it would be a great late July or August ski in most seasons, maybe even better than the Sholes itself.

Thanks,
Alan


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: David_Coleman on 09/01/03, 05:41 PM
Alan - sounds like you know the area.  Our camp was at the very end of the trail.  Yes, we headed straight for the gap between the Portals (the true Sholes was climber's right).  We at first debated climbing that and accessing the Park where the Sholes, Park and Mazama glaciers merge (our thinking was that the Rainbow may be too crevassed to navigate combined with the potential loss in elevation).  However, traversing the south facing slope between the gap (which I believe you're referring to) seemed like the more prudent thing to do once we got a view of it since it was essentially a straight shot, and the elevation loss didn't appear to be too significant although there definitely is some.

Yes, I think this slope would serve well as a day tour.  Crevasses do exist on this south facing slope if this is a concern, but I highly doubt it earlier in the summer.  As for now, the slope appears to be done with some sections of water ice, rock fall and a looong haul to ski just a few hundred vertical feet.


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: markharf on 09/01/03, 06:23 PM
An impressive collection of tracks on the Park Glacier, I must say.  So the line you didn't try involved traversing far to climber's left to access the upper glacier?  It looks like the most likely route, but I think you did pretty well for so late in the season.

I satisfied myself with another brief bit of skiing today before my companion needed to head back to town.  Ptarmigan Ridge still has excellent scenery, multiple short lines and snow that is in places very good—all this at a cost of only an hour and a half walking the trail.  But aside from the scenery, there's not actually that much  skiing left—an excellent adjunct to a nice hike with a friend, but hard to justify for its own sake.  Of course, I'm not invested in maintaining any sort of streak.  

I checked in a few places and found that snow from last winter is almost melted away to the underlying ice; this suggests that time is of the essence for those needing September turns.  I admit that I'm just about ready to welcome the snows of October.

Enjoy,

Mark


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: David_Coleman on 09/02/03, 02:59 AM
Hey Mark - Yes, viewing the lower portions of the Park from a distance it looks feasible, but once up there it didn't appear that heading left was an option so we went up.  In fact, there was no guarantee of a connection at all, although around 8,500'+/- it may have went left.

The slope you likely saw multiple tracks on was too fun to turn down, while at the same time I think the majority of our group didn't want to press our luck on this trip.


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: Alan Brunelle on 09/02/03, 08:45 AM
David Thanks,

Actually the descent that I was suggesting would start at the point that is ~6900ft., which essentially forms the southwest wall of the Portals (the saddle marked on the USGS maps that is one notch over from the camping areas), and from that point to descend to possibly as far down as just below the toe of the Rainbow.  On my map, this would approach 3,000 vertical ft. on terrain that looks on the map to have nice rolls and contour lines that are maybe not radical, but certainly on par with Coleman Pinnacle itself.  

My vantage point was from the tippy top of the Portals NE Pinnacle.  About 6400ft.  Nice hike, highly recommended.  From that position, it made skiing the Sholes look like rather a short descent with only the highest portion achieving much in the way of contour cuts (ie. steepness).  On the other hand, since we do have to walk/ski up what we ski down, the length of the descents maybe are not an issue.

Thanks for the info.  I hope to give it a go next year!  Hopefully you guys will get onto the Park a bit earlier next year.

Alan


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: Paul Belitz on 09/02/03, 09:23 AM
Heck, we've got to get on the Park again this year!  If we get up a bit earlier, with the knowledge of this past trip, maybe we can make it to the summit, or at least to the headwall schrund. There's so much corn to be harvested! ;D


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: David_Coleman on 09/02/03, 09:44 AM
I'll take Sky's recommendation and do it as a winter tour during a high pressure window.

BTW, a photo, which will possibly show our tracks (depending on the resolution) will be posted by Sky later this week when I burn him a CD.


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: skykilo on 09/04/03, 03:25 PM
Nothing spectacular, but some pictures here...
http://staff.washington.edu/skykilo/Park/Park.html
Ciao!


Title: Re: August 31, 2003, Park Glacier (Mt. Baker)
Post by: Paul Belitz on 09/04/03, 06:44 PM
What do you mean, not spectacular? Those boots are worth a standing ovation!  ;D Fun trip. Let's go try it again.  8)


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