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| | |-+  June 28, 2008, South Sister
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Author Topic: June 28, 2008, South Sister  (Read 1574 times)

Posts: 34

June 28, 2008, South Sister
« on: 06/29/08, 11:56 PM »

After getting forced off the mountain by lightning the previous weekend, I decided to give it one more go and left work early on Friday to get to Devil's Lake by 6:30.  I was surprised to see only one car parked along the road at the trailhead.  Snow cover is going fast with the warm weather and I had to carry the skis a short distance before I started to skin.  Coverage is still good around Hell Creek, but I don't imagine it will remain good for very long.  I was able to skin all the up the drainage to the wall, where I boot-packed up to the plateau and returned to skinning along the heavily suncupped and runneled flats to the previous weekend's campsite at 6800'.  The night was pleasantly warm, but windy throughout.

I got an early start despite having to go on a scavenger hunt to find the sunglasses that apparently fell out of my pocket a short distance from camp the night before.  Once I located my shades I was off and made it to around 8500' in no time when I noticed a wet slab that released on a steep aspect to the west.  The crown was prominent, as was the funnel of debris in the runout, but it was hard to determine how thick the slide was from a distance.  Given the amount of tracks on this slope it is likely that this one was triggered by a skier.

I managed to skin over wet, heavy snow a short distance beyond the point where Matt and I did our lightning rod impersonations the previous Saturday and was forced to bootpack several hundred feet up a narrow, steep section of snow to the terminal moraine of the Lewis Glacier.  From there I was able to continue on skis.  I stayed climbers' right of the scree ridge, navigating around several small crevasses at around 9200', the last of which I was able to bridge across on skis.  Shortly thereafter, I decided to boot up to a point where the snow was too firm to continue without crampons.  After a time-consuming struggle with crampon difficulty and hamstring problems, I finally gave in and portaged west across the scree ridge and took a lengthy break to stretch and rehydrate.  From there I resumed on skis over breakable crust to the crater rim, the last hundred feet providing some difficult skinning (I've finally determined that ski crampons are a worthwhile investment).  I stopped to chat with a couple of guys that camped in the windbreaks at the crater rim and continued across the crater to the summit.  I was able to skin to within ten feet of the true summit and arrived around 0830.  I lounged there for well over an hour before the next party arrived.  It was then that I made my way across the crater and started my descent. 

The first thousand feet of skiing was fast.  the snow was just beginning to corn and I hit a few spots that were still reluctant to give into the rays of the sun.  I stopped near the edge of the scree ridge to greet a couple of skiers on their way up and, in return, was greeted by their angry dog that didn't find my skiing the least bit amusing.  The snow was perfect from that point and I continued over a long, steep pitch down to the Clark Glacier.  I skirted the headwall skiers right and was forced to portage around one small pseudo-crevasse.  From there the skiing was excellent down several steep pitches over firm corn before hitting suncup/runnel land and back to camp. 

I broke camp shortly before noon and, after struggling over the eternal slog across the plateau, was able to ski right to my car door and open it before removing my skis.  Another near-perfect solo trip that capped off my goal to ski every weekend in June.   

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« Last Edit: 06/29/08, 11:59 PM by loofus » Logged

Posts: 479

Re: June 28, 2008, South Sister
« Reply #1 on: 06/30/08, 11:03 AM »

Nice work - wish I were there, but I had other obligations.  Interesting stuff about the avy near all the ski tracks.  Sounds like the south route is done now until next year.  I'm already looking forward to heading back.  Let's get some July turns next week.......

There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty." - Theodore Roosevelt
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