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Author Topic: June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass  (Read 2473 times)
Alan Brunelle
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June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass
« on: 06/15/08, 10:44 PM »

My son Nick and I arrived at the parking lot at 9:30 and got underway at 9:45.  While this meant for a later day, the long days caused little worry.  Also, the conditions were ideal.  There was little if any new snow apparent from the previous weekend, I guess most of the activity was well south and west of this locale.  In any case, the snowpack was very well consolidated and the skinning was fine all the way to the top.

We started up the toward the granite slabs, where most people this day seemed intent on ascending the short trees near a creek running just to the climbers right of the granite slabs.  Instead Nick and I headed well west and found absolutely perfect skinning conditions up to then right of the cliff band that traverses this area.  There were two leads through the short cliffs and we chose the rightmost break to ascend.  Skinning got steep and we chose to de-ski and boot through a hundred feet or so before resuming the skin up on fine snow.  Nick really liked those old Ramer claws that he has now inherited. 

With the late start and somewhat slow progress (my son is 11) we got near the top just as the masses were departing.

At the top we met one person, who soloed Early Winter Spire, and three goats!  Actually, the climber had the companionship of one goat, which he claimed followed him most of the way to the top.



After a late lunch, we opted to traverse skiers left towards the ridge and descend great untracked lines. 

Preparing to head down


Nick on the way down



We stopped at the bench just above the cliff band.  Here I made the bonehead mistake of deciding to follow the route that the masses took.  Thinking that they must have had a nice route up, we decided to head down into the small tight steep trees in the creek gully just skiers left of the granite slabs.  A big mistake.  While not horrible, we were forced to de-ski (as everyone else had) and descend for a hundred feet or so before continuing the ski down in inferior conditions than what we had climbed.  Had we done our ascent route I believe we would have had a great continuous ski in open forest the whole way back.  Something now marked on my map!

A great day, the first tour with my son who actually got a clear day with the spectacular scenery.  The goats were a highlight for him.  They were not shy and remained very close to us as we sat and ate our lunch.

We found the garments on the descent route where people had taken to booting.

Alan
« Last Edit: 06/16/08, 11:09 AM by BigSnow » Logged
Alan Brunelle
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Re: June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass
« Reply #1 on: 06/16/08, 11:07 AM »

Should I assume that anyone can get hold of me through the message service from this site?  This is in reference to the garments we recovered yesterday. 

I would rather not post my email address.

Alan
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Marcus
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Re: June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass
« Reply #2 on: 06/16/08, 11:23 AM »

Should I assume that anyone can get hold of me through the message service from this site?  This is in reference to the garments we recovered yesterday. 

I would rather not post my email address.

Alan

Nice TR -- sounds great!

And yeah, anyone who cares enough about their garments will sign up/in and send you a PM...
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Stugie
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Re: June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass
« Reply #3 on: 06/16/08, 03:49 PM »

When climbing there a couple years back, my buddy's dog was gored by a mountain goat...survived, but I watched as did he, from the top of the last rappel.  Nice pics btw.
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"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
natefred
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Re: June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass
« Reply #4 on: 06/16/08, 04:34 PM »

Way to get out with your son, I was still riding the rope tow on the bunny slope at that age.

Also had a friend's dog get mauled by a goat up there while climbing S. Early.  We didn't see it happen, but the dog also survived, thanks to a vet in Winthrop who treated him over the July 4th weekend.

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Alan Brunelle
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Re: June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass
« Reply #5 on: 06/16/08, 10:43 PM »

Way to get out with your son, I was still riding the rope tow on the bunny slope at that age.

As we were leaving, the climber we had met told us to take it easy on the way out, that we looked tired.  Initially, I thought that he was thinking of Nick, since Nick does not climb all that fast.  On second thought though, I now think that he was more concerned for me!  I have put on a few pounds the last few years and don't really look the part so much anymore.

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Erik d.
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Re: June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass
« Reply #6 on: 06/19/08, 08:23 AM »

Hey, Alan.  I'm new to backcountry skiing/skinning but have been climbing up in the Early Winters area several times, so I am familiar with the terrain.  Planning on heading up there tomorrow and spending the night in/around the blue lake parking lot Friday night and sking Friday/Saturday. 

Two Questions: 

How was the snowpack/quantity? Enough to still have some around now?  How about for skirting the lower slab cliffs?  A guess? You went way around to climber's right, correct?

Have you done the loop over the saddle (where you and your son turned around) and then around to the run that drops you at the hairpin?  Any tips on that route?  Is the hairpin still skiable?

Thanks for posting the great TR and for any further info you might be able to provide.  -Erik
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Alan Brunelle
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Re: June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass
« Reply #7 on: 06/19/08, 10:15 AM »

Eric,

Last question first.  I have not done the loop or traverse down to the hairpin after climbing from the west.  However, the lone climber/skier that we met at the top ascended from the hairpin and later descended that way.  I can tell you that we could see that the route had coverage all the way down to the hairpin and the climber confirmed that.  This was a surprise to me because we had driven to the hairpin just two weeks prior and the skiers that we met who did the traverse stated that they thought that the coverage would be inadequate in a week.  I think that this is a testament to just how cool our weather has been here in the PNW.

Otherwise the coverage on the west of the Liberty Bell/Early Winters Spire divide was fine.  There was 2ft. of consolidated snow surrounding the parking lot.  Less in the trees at the bottom and in some spots open patches starting to form with water moving about.  Nothing that you wouldn't just skin over.  Once we were in a few hundred yards there was full coverage but not super deep.

Our route up, which was far climber's right of the route others took ascended part way an old slide path of open trees and then open forest.  See photo for visual description of the route and snow conditions at that point.

Once you get higher up there will be plenty of coverage considering that we are now still under the influence of quite cool weather systems still. 

My guess, given another week, is that the route we took will still be fine, with maybe a little less snow to get you through the one section of the cliff band.  For us, there were tree tops poking through that section, but it was still just a boot pack traverse of maybe 100ft.  With less snow there might be a bit more in the way of trees and shrubbery to deal with on this one section.  Here are some photos to explain what I mean.

Here is a photo of where we were just prior to making our rightward traverse and a view of the discontinuous cliff band.



I can't complete the red line because I can't see through the trees on the photo and I am not sure if we went even further right, before cutting up and left.

Note that the way the others traveled is well off the left edge of the photo.

Here is a photo of Nick booting the short section through the band.  You can judge the snow depth in this photo and assume that with another foot of loss  how it will be.



I can't tell you for certain how it will be but then that is half the fun of exploring. 

Alan
« Last Edit: 06/19/08, 10:23 AM by BigSnow » Logged
Erik d.
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Re: June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass
« Reply #8 on: 06/19/08, 04:28 PM »

Awesom, Alan.  Thanks so much for the beta.  I think we'll try the loop and hairpin.  I'll try posting a TR afterward.  Peace.  -Erik
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cascadianwarrior
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Re: June 15, 2008 Father/Son Early Winters, Wash. Pass
« Reply #9 on: 06/20/08, 09:55 AM »

Awesom, Alan.  Thanks so much for the beta.  I think we'll try the loop and hairpin.  I'll try posting a TR afterward.  Peace.  -Erik

Please do!  I'm thinking of heading up there on Thursday and would love an update on how the snowpack is holding up.  Have fun  Smiley

Travis
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