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Author Topic: June 29,2008 Castle to Foss Peak Loop  (Read 2704 times)

Posts: 2275

June 29,2008 Castle to Foss Peak Loop
« on: 06/30/08, 11:55 AM »

Our chief planner offered two objectives for our Sunday tour. Tour “A” was a long south facing tour with lots of vertical.  Tour “B” was north facing and shorter.  We all knew the weather forecast so it was an easy choice - tour “B”, Foss Peak.  The destination was kept rather “quiet”.  So early Sunday morning, I checked the latest TR’s and noticed that Robie had toured to Foss Peak on Saturday and found good conditions.  I think someone is talking to Robie.  Hmm.  Jill, Hillary, Dale and I met the group at Tall Timbers for breakfast.  Today’s crew included Ron, Bonnie, JW, Scotsman and Stewie.  Scotsman was slightly damaged due his Saturday tour chasing Lowell, Joe, Marcus and Pete.  As we were sharing breakfast, the “boss” arrived with her personal driver/husband.  Although sporting her crutches, she appeared quite nimble and began recruiting July turn enablers.  Please note that this may require an unusual ascent technique.

Okay, the TR.  We left our vehicle at Sunbeam Creek directly below Foss Peak and shuttled back to the trailhead across from Reflection Lakes. The first challenge was climbing the 10 foot snow bank that guarded the start of the skinning. Stewie and Chris kicked steps up the steep bank and we shuttled gear upward.  I pointed out that if we walked about 100 feet eastward the snow bank was only 2 feet high.  But nooooo, the choice was made.  The skinning was pleasant in the trees on the lower slopes, but we began baking when we broke out into the open.  As we approached the upper terrain below Castle and Pinnacle, there was a quiet diversion of ascent routes.  Stewie, Chris, Dale and Hillary ascended upward towards the bench.  Ron quietly began traversing the “nose”.   I know that the “silver bearded sage” has traveled this route numerous times so JW, Jill and I followed Ron.  Yes sireeee, that old dog has left his scent all along the brush.  We meandered around the “nose” and stood in the shade of the trees as we watched the “other group” traverse above us in the hot sun.  Hillary mentioned she had to boot pack a section of the route. 

At the bench next to Castle, we took a break and could see the steady stream of bodies ascending from Paradise towards Muir.  We sat in the Tatoosh alone.  We pulled the skins and did a high speed traverse along the ridge towards the base of Foss Peak.  Many ole climbers and tourers refer to Foss Peak as Unicastle, between Castle and Unicorn.  The ascent to the summit of Foss was a steep skin or, for some, a boot pack.  The west bowl of Foss was windless and like an oven in the midday sun.  Ron, Jill and I used ski crampons during the day and they provided extra security as we climbed on some firm surfaces.  The summit of Foss provides wonderful views of the Tatoosh and Rainier.  The route up to Unicorn is still intact even along the Bench Lake area.  Our descent stays skiers right and has a very nice, steep rollover.  The upper snow surface had minor sun cups that were shaved off easily.  It’s amazing that with the hot days, we did not have any slush conditions, sloughs or hissers – just pleasant corn skiing. We kept skier right and descended to Sunbeam Creek with a bit of tree debris down low, but excellent coverage.  About the only incident was when Hillary decided to take a shortcut and had a partially buried tree snap up and knock her over.  We heard the scream as she slid upside down; head first down a steep section towards the road.  She skidded into a tree well and started her usual giggle as Dale and Ron clamored towards her.  We then sat on the rock wall above Sunbeam Creek and had a cold one from Ron’s usual stash.  If you want a bit of solitude on a busy weekend, Foss Peak is a splendid choice. You can also begin the tour from Sunbeam Creek and go straight up to Foss but, depending on terrain selection, you may have to boot up some of the steep sections.  The snow pack is still abundant in the Tatoosh.   

Posts: 3380

Re: June 29,2008 Castle to Foss Peak Loop
« Reply #1 on: 06/30/08, 01:45 PM »

Thanks Zap. The "other group" was following Stewie whose route finding has yet to develop beyond the " straight up" approach! Grin

As you say, execellent snow conditions given the temperatures. A very nice tour with a distinct rocky summit to tick off.

Great company, whose got the pictures?

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Posts: 617

Re: June 29,2008 Castle to Foss Peak Loop
« Reply #2 on: 06/30/08, 02:04 PM »

Was very nice seeing everyone at breakfast, glad you had a good tour and that Hillary escaped the wrath of those hidden "dragon's".  Will look forward to seeing photos.

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Posts: 1382

Re: June 29,2008 Castle to Foss Peak Loop
« Reply #3 on: 06/30/08, 05:07 PM »

nice report ZAPPO!
That is a nice run down Sunbeam with lots of variation.
good thing that Hillary is ok.  this is the first year that ive really paid a lo tof attention to those saplings that get buried perhaps because of MAd Dog's pruning.
Anyone else reading this , beware the creek drainage and the culvert at the bottom which has troll looking for victims!

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Posts: 1816

Re: June 29,2008 Castle to Foss Peak Loop
« Reply #4 on: 06/30/08, 07:43 PM »

Very nice read Zap,
Must have been fun!
Those trees that spring out can be freaky, glad there was minimal harm done.
We tried to wear Scotty down the day before so he would be at what Mad Dog calls, "Geezer Pace" for your tour.
Thanks for the Tatoosh update.
ron j

Posts: 2594

Re: June 29,2008 Castle to Foss Peak Loop
« Reply #5 on: 07/01/08, 11:42 AM »

...We tried to wear Scotty down the day before so he would be at what Mad Dog calls, "Geezer Pace" for your tour.
Nice try, Joe.  You did manage to get him whining about blisters on his feet, but that didn't seem to slow him and Stewie down much.

I can't recall when I've enjoyed a tour so much with such a large number (9) of participants:

It was a special treat to have Dale and Hillary join us after working with them all those years in the Glacier Travel class and never having been on a "real tour" with them.  Dale looked pretty good on the 2nd pitch:

and Zap made the summit pitch bordered by the "wall of death" on the north side look like a bunny slope:

It was also good to ski with Stewie again.  He seems to mature in years each few weeks that he manages to join us.  Thanks for pulling my skins, Stewart.

Zap, the TR was really a great read; I got really wrapped up in it and then towards the end said to myself, "hey, wait a minute - I was on that trip"  Wink 

MadDog, thanks for the great choice and I'm betting you came up with another great call for next weekend.

More pics HERE.


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Posts: 2275

Re: June 29,2008 Castle to Foss Peak Loop
« Reply #6 on: 07/01/08, 07:49 PM »

Ron, thanks for the photo journal.  The burst mode is a great feature. 

Posts: 38

Re: June 29,2008 Castle to Foss Peak Loop
« Reply #7 on: 07/03/08, 09:09 AM »

Thanks for the great TR Zap and to all for great company. It was quite a congenial group with smiles even brighter than an intense sun. Great tour planning, Mad Dog, and guiding/pictures Ron. I think I was getting dehydrated-Ron's water purification saved the day, again thanks!
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