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Author Topic: June 20, 2008 Early Winters/Wash. Pass  (Read 1623 times)
Erik d.
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Posts: 7


June 20, 2008 Early Winters/Wash. Pass
« on: 06/23/08, 06:44 PM »

My buddy Chad and I drove out to Washington Pass from the Kitsap Peninsula Friday morning, and strapped on our skis at the Blue Lake Trailhead at 10:45am.  This was our first time skiing in this area, but I was pretty familiar with the terrain due to several previous trips to climb the surrounding peaks and spires.  We left the lot with the idea of perhaps doing the Birthday Tour down to the Hairpin.

We climbed southwest from the trailhead, skinning through tight trees with somtimes minimal snow coverage (especially over runoff) under a good deal of forest debris.  The forest opened up to a slide path, which was more open, but steep with many trees, logs, and stumps exposed, making it difficult to skin through.  We had to bootpack a short, steeper section before the slide path leveled out some and allowed for continued skinning.

This slide path put us to the west (far right) of the slab/granite cliffs in open terrain with good coverage.  From there we could see a bootpack up a short snow chute between the cliffs.  We skinned to the base of the cliffs, then bootpacked that short steep section to the upper bowls and ate lunch at the top of the cliffs.

From there we continued skinning up toward the cornice that sits in the small saddle southwest of South Early Winters Spire (sorry, don't know its name), traversing about 3/4 the way up the steep slope under the cornice.  We then bootpacked about 100 ft. to the cornice, reaching it at about 4:00pm.  After over 5 hours climbing (pretty slow going), we decided to ski back toward the car instead of continuing the tour to the Hairpin.  I climbed around the left side of the cornice and over for a peek down the southeast side.  It looked awesome; a big wide-open bowl with excellent coverage.  It looked like coverage might get thin before getting to Kangaroo Pass, however, if you are considering doing the whole tour soon.

By the time we started carving turns, the snow was very slushy, but easily skiable.  We skied directly down from the cornice, then skiers left under cliffs to another open bowl, then straight down to our lunch spot.  We were able to ski down the short chute we had bootpacked up though the cliff band and then down the skiers left side of the slide path; good skiing all the way down to the bottom of the slide path.  From there, back to picking our way through forest; snow littered with a lot of forest debris.

I'm guessing that the upper slopes (top of slide path and above, including back side of cornice) will continue to be good skiing for a week or two more depending on weather, but the days of skinning from the parking lot are numbered.

We tried packing our skis the next day to Cutthroat and the bowls to the east, but could not find a dry way across the full creeks below (to the north of) the road.

We had a great time and the ski was worth the long climb.  If you're planning on heading there, you better hurry; it's melting fast.  I can't wait to go back earlier next year.

-Erik


* Chad_heading_up_under_cliffs_cliffs.jpg (63.15 KB, 704x528 - viewed 468 times.)

* Whistler_and_Cutthorat_from_Early_Winters_6-20-08.jpg (86.2 KB, 704x528 - viewed 457 times.)

* Erik_bootpacking_up_to_the_Cornice.jpg (44.07 KB, 528x704 - viewed 472 times.)
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Alan Brunelle
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Posts: 383


Re: June 20, 2008 Early Winters/Wash. Pass
« Reply #1 on: 06/24/08, 07:36 PM »

Erik,

It sounds like you guys ascended the way my son and I did last weekend.  There also was another post which may have gone the same way which might have provided the boot path through the band, as we had done. 

You were smart to descend that way as well, you got more vertical fun than my son and I did, but staying too close to the granite slabs below Liberty Bell.  Nothing but tight steep trees and a stream gully there.  Your first photo reveals this slope as ideal for a nice ski, while in the distance just beyond that dark cliff is the way we went down.  Not horrible, just not any fun skiing.

The col you ascended is usually referred to as Blue Lake Peak Col.  Blue Lake Peak is the high point just to the West of the col.  I think this is not official and is not on any map I have.  It is where the Sally Portman Birthday Route traverses on down the backside and beyond.  Haven't had the pleasure of doing yet.  Someday....

The low snow condition lower down sounds about right, given our conditions from over a week ago.

Alan
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 07:48 PM by BigSnow » Logged
Erik d.
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Posts: 7


Re: June 20, 2008 Early Winters/Wash. Pass
« Reply #2 on: 06/24/08, 08:26 PM »

Cool, Alan.  Thanks again for the excellent report and help route finding.  It was a fun day.  Where to next? 
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