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| | |-+  June 16, 2008 Unicorn
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Author Topic: June 16, 2008 Unicorn  (Read 2664 times)

Posts: 2272

June 16, 2008 Unicorn
« on: 06/17/08, 11:22 AM »

We spent a relaxing evening near Paradise after the “Masters” tour at Plummer Peak.  As we watched a bit of alpenglow on Rainier, the friendly Paradise fox stopped by for a brief smell of the campervan, and we crashed by 8:30pm!  After 11 hours of sleep, we drove to the Bench Lake trailhead.  We were surprised to see two young skiers preparing to head up to Unicorn.  They had saddled their skis and were moving fast.  Just as we were ready to depart, Art and 3 of his climbing buddies pulled in.  Apparently he had sent me an email with his plans and assumed that was why we were there, but since we were on the mountain we hadn’t seen it.  Small world.  We skinned up the small knoll, then pulled the skins and skated past Bench Lake to the base of the notch above the Snow Lake drainage.  A brief carry to the ridge and a quick descent to Snow Lake.  Then we skinned to the base of the col as the sun began baking us.  Art skinned up the lower third of the col before saddling his skis because the snow was mushy and tiring.  The rest of us all saddled our skis and booted up.  There was avy debris along climbers right and the entire col was soft.  Hmmm.  Once at the top of the col the snow changed dramatically.  The entire basin had perfect corn.  Art was so enthused that he ran half way up the basin, dropped his pack and skied down in perfect corn.  Youth.  It was tough to leave the basin in such ideal conditions, but we wanted to ski from the top of the saddle.  The Unicorn chute seemed in ideal shape. We again saddled the skis and booted the entire chute. The “boys” are peak baggers and are working on their top whatever list so they headed for the summit block.  Jill and I enjoyed the big views as far south as Mt. Hood.  One wee bit of caution for future climbers is that the snow bridge near the top of the chute is a bit “airy” in places and there’s a dark hole down there.  Our descent on Unicorn was wonderful.  We were again barking and yelping the entire descent to the bottom of the chute and basin. The two young skiers whom we saw in the parking area joined us on the descent.  They seemed amused that a couple of senior citizens could still turn and bark on their descent.  Naturally, we encouraged them continue their rewarding careers, making their Social Security tax payments and helping us enjoy our “golden years”.  The lower col was soft mush and required skiing the avy debris area where the ski penetration was not as deep.  The return to the campervan went much faster than expected even though it required a 50 foot boot up to the ridge and skating back to Bench Lake and the trailhead.  The snow pack is still very healthy from the trailhead. 

As a side note, the two young skiers started at the trailhead and followed an old track towards Foss Peak, traversing under Foss to where the track they were following stopped.  They continued the traverse under Foss on the east side above the cliff bands, booting it the entire way.  Ah, youth.  Finally, they realized that they needed to descend into the basin and put on their skis.  They triggered a nice surface slough as they descended into the basin.  From Unicorn they had a better perspective of their approach route.  Needless to say, they did not return that way.

After returning home, I read Keith’s Unicorn trip report.  Thanks for the boot track up both cols.

* GrandmaCrossingAirySection.JPG (94.51 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 634 times.)

* TracksInBasin.JPG (69.29 KB, 599x800 - viewed 641 times.)

* LowerCol.JPG (96.2 KB, 1000x749 - viewed 634 times.)

Posts: 926

Re: June 16, 2008 Unicorn
« Reply #1 on: 06/17/08, 04:40 PM »

Nice trip.  Looks like someone burnt their arms a bit?

"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

Posts: 1816

Re: June 16, 2008 Unicorn
« Reply #2 on: 06/18/08, 09:16 AM »

Way to live the dream!
You set a nice mark to aim for when planning a retirement!
Gotta go to work and fund the old folks!  Cheesy
See you out there soon.
Nicks Sticks

Posts: 15

Re: June 16, 2008 Unicorn
« Reply #3 on: 06/19/08, 12:34 AM »

As one of the youth I feel it necessary to put in my two sense.  Not to be out done by the masters club, Matt and I took off at a quick clip toward bench lake.  We followed the first boot track we came to up towards the ridge between bench lake and snow lake.  Upon reaching the ridge we had and excellent view down onto snow lake and the path we should have followed around the bottom of a large cliff.  Not wanting to descend we followed the ridge up until it became clear that our path was going to take us far from our goal of Unicorn.  We were now on the large shelf below Foss peak.  We skied (as fast as we could) across the shelf and into the upper basin below Unicorn.  e met up with our older (and wiser) new friends, and began the climb to the saddle.
Like the previous post said the snow on the south east facing slope (as you could probably guess) was very heavy and I sent down a decent amount of slough.
The rest of the climb was easy, except for the snow bridge, witch I agree is "airy."
The snow from the peak to the bottom of the upper bowl was awesome, and even the lower col was pretty good for nearly solstice.  Just watch out for rubble.
Looking back at Rainier we could see some really large slides on many of the south eastern slopes near Golden Gate.  Yikes.

PS.  Here is proof the the snow was 'yelp' worthy

and proof we thought so too...


Posts: 2272

Re: June 16, 2008 Unicorn
« Reply #4 on: 06/19/08, 02:15 PM »

Nick, it was fun descending the upper col and basin with you and Matt. We appreciate you skimming the surface of the lower col for us "Old Mountain Goats". Wink  I sent you a PM with a link to 4 photos I took of you and Matt enjoying the corn in the Basin.  We look forward to seeing more TR from you and Matt.
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