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| | |-+  June 22,2008 Blue Lake TH to Hairpin Turn
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Author Topic: June 22,2008 Blue Lake TH to Hairpin Turn  (Read 1883 times)

Posts: 2258

June 22,2008 Blue Lake TH to Hairpin Turn
« on: 06/23/08, 10:21 PM »

We left home around 5am and arrived at the Blue Lake trailhead about 9:30am.  Hillary and Dale arrived a few minutes earlier.  Our plan was to tour to the slot next to South Early Winter Spire and descend to the hairpin turn.  We had planned this trip for awhile, and it appeared that we may have waited too long.  The snow pack is shrinking quickly.  We left the TH at 10:30 under a light cloud cover which provided comfortable skinning temperatures.  There was snow coverage at the TH and we skinned around tree wells and debris patches.  We had to remove the skis twice to cross a stream and a bare patch.  I kept saying ďIím glad we donít have to return by this routeĒ.  We stayed in the dense forest until we finally meandered into the old avalanche slide path off to the right.  The climbing became much faster and we skinned to the base of the partially snow covered cliffs.  We then boot packed up a small finger of snow through small trees to a bench. The sun finally burned through the light clouds, and a pleasant breeze kept the temperatures pleasant. From there it was an easy climbing traverse to the slot which descends to the hairpin turn on highway 20.  We only ascended 1650vf, but our descent was 2350vf.  I really like these types of trips.  We met a young couple near the slot who were returning to the Blue Lake TH.  They had skied the same route last week and were surprised at how much the snow pack had diminished in one week.  We all felt that the easy access at Blue Lake TH will be gone very soon, although there is still plenty of snow in the upper basin/bowl.     
After a lunch break on the rocky ridge above the slot, we down-climbed about 50vf from the top of the slot to the snow pack.  The surface was variable with small sun cups, old avy sloughs which are becoming deeply runnelled, rock debris, rocks imbedded in larger sun cups, and some enjoyable steep pitches.  We worked our way down keeping mainly skiers right.  About halfway down, we had a short boot pack into the far right slot.  We had gotten carried way with our fall-line descent and hadnít stayed far enough right.  We then entered the rock lined alley where there was still more rock debris.  We were lucky that none of us whacked anything.  Our tracks looked great glistening in the sun, but one run was enough.  Things are melting quickly so we are glad that we got there when we did.   

* ZapJillHillaryDale.JPG (93.88 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 446 times.)

* JillRockAlley.JPG (79.18 KB, 600x800 - viewed 467 times.)

* DescentToHairpin.JPG (94.05 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 447 times.)
Alan Brunelle

Posts: 383

Re: June 22,2008 Blue Lake TH to Hairpin Turn
« Reply #1 on: 06/24/08, 07:49 PM »

Do you think that you missed the best skiing by not retracing your ascent?


Posts: 2258

Re: June 22,2008 Blue Lake TH to Hairpin Turn
« Reply #2 on: 06/24/08, 09:42 PM »

Alan,  If we had skied our ascent route, the top 800-1000vf would have been fine but the remaining 600-700vf would have been rather sketchy.  The lower section would have been tight trees with tree wells, debris and possible bare patches and stream crossings.  The descent from the slot to the hairpin had variable conditions but was open and rather easy to avoid any hazards.  We all agreed that we made the right choice.  Plus an extra 700vf of descent.
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