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| |-+  August 2008 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  3 August, Ptarmigan Ridge
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Author Topic: 3 August, Ptarmigan Ridge  (Read 2813 times)
lordhedgie
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3 August, Ptarmigan Ridge
« on: 08/03/08, 08:54 PM »

My friends all wanted to hike/sail/ignore me this weekend, but I really wanted to test out my ability to make turns after the surgery.  Dr Crash offered to go to Rainier, but neither of us were real familiar with the conditions, and I wanted something that I knew was ski-from-car or close to it, to minimize the amount of time I was carrying skis on my back (and stressing my wound).  So, Artist Point it is!

Large crowds of gawkers and sledders left me happy to find a parking spot.  A quick survey confirmed that I couldn't really skin from the parking lot, but it didn't look too far to the ridge.  Several hikers told me the snow was very mushy and soft, so I left my crampons in the car.  Note to self -- never trust a hiker's opinion on snow.

Thirty minutes of hiking and I went over the saddle to find, well, lots of long skinny fingers of snow.  I broke out the skins to discover that I was missing a tip loop (see my repair in the photo below).  I skinned, with difficulty, to the far side of the valley -- crampons would have been nice in the firm snow.  My first run down was hampered by the fact that I somehow neglected to fix one of my heels, and didn't realize this until it was in the air above me and I was sliding down on my back.



I managed to ski several of the fingers on the way back.  Cresting the saddle, I decided to ignore the footpath and ski down then hike up -- no quicker and definately not easier, but still possible.

Verdict?  The snow at Artist Point has improved in quality over the last month.  The suncups are smaller and the snow is softer.  However, it's still suncupped, and while it's still the easiest snow to get to in the North Cascades, it's not the best.  I saw a dozen skiers out there (if that's you below, you're welcome), but I would only ski there if you really had an aversion to hiking.




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If you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you don't do it next year.
Telemon
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Re: 3 August, Ptarmigan Ridge
« Reply #1 on: 08/03/08, 09:49 PM »

Thanks for the TR. I am trying to encourage a friend to continue skiing through the summer. We'll probably end up at Ptarmigan Ridge tomorrow rather than the longer up hill hike to Heliotrope Ridge.
btw I've never brought crampons to Ptarmigan Ridge in the summer and generally we kick steps instead of skinning up the snow fingers.
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Git down, Brothers and Sisters of the Church of the Telemark..What do you mean it is a turn not a religion?
lordhedgie
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Re: 3 August, Ptarmigan Ridge
« Reply #2 on: 08/03/08, 10:17 PM »

The crampons would have been useful for crossing the wide snow fields to get to the longer fields.  Booting up worked fine.

Cross the first saddle you see (visable in the pano shot), and you'll see lots of snow.  Anything in the next valley over will be the same conditions, although slightly longer runs.  How far you want to hike is totally up to you, but the snow doesn't improve until you get much further up Baker.  Good luck!
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If you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you don't do it next year.
Telemon
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Re: 3 August, Ptarmigan Ridge
« Reply #3 on: 08/05/08, 06:53 PM »

 The tracks from your second picture were still visible yesterday. I brought skins along but never took them out of my pack. My skis are so devoid of wax that I was able to climb up out of several basins without the use of skins.
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Git down, Brothers and Sisters of the Church of the Telemark..What do you mean it is a turn not a religion?
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