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| | |-+  April 26, 2009, Big Four, East Face attempt
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Author Topic: April 26, 2009, Big Four, East Face attempt  (Read 2383 times)
jd
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April 26, 2009, Big Four, East Face attempt
« on: 04/27/09, 11:44 AM »

Jeff Rich and I wanted to get out on our first longer tour of the season this weekend and the East Face of Big Four came to mind. We had both wanted to do it for years since reading about the first ski descent, it was in our back-yard, and in our face on many other trips in the area. I wasn't sure of conditions, or my ability to ski the summit ridge, but we went with the attitude that turning around, or climbing down instead of skiing was very probable.


We were skining up the Mt. Loop Hwy about 6 and made good time to Big Four. Clouds were keeping things cool, and we were very happily surprised to find a perfect tree down over the river where we thought we'd have to wade in sandals. We contiued up below the north face and turned left traversing under the East Buttress on open snow slopes.
 
First shot is the upper slopes of the north face, second is looking up at the east face bench that you have to traverse.

When we arrived under the east face we were presented with a huge swath of avy debris that had come down in the last week or two from various angles. It looked like the rock buttresses where it started were now clear, and there was a good crust over everything else, so we headed up the right slanting ramp through the lower cliffs. Crampons were needed to negotiate the hard runneled snow and avy lumps. We cut left out of the ramp across a ledge and up a more direct route to the wide open slope above the cliffs where we put the skis back on and traversed on more avy runnels and debris to the couloir proper.
 


Keeping on the upper right edge of the couloir we felt pretty safe until we came in view of the headwall where we saw a huge slab of snow poised above rock just waiting to go when the sun melted it enough. We put in another few hundred feet and stopped about 1,200 ft. below the top to strap on the skis. The slopes on skier's right were much better so we had to cross under the slide path as quick as possible, then ski the wall of the couloir to the bottom where we once again had to cross to get out of the danger zone. The long traverse across the bench went fast, then funky jump turns down runnels and lumps got us back under the East Buttress where we finally felt completely safe and stopped to relax.
     

The final hike across and down to the river was mushy and slow. By this time both of us had sore feet and overall weariness so skinning the road seemed twice as far and we were very glad to pile into the car and head for the house.

A good adventure, beautiful place, but not a great ski route (too much traversing) and funky conditions. We didn't see any avalanche activity, but the Mt. Loop still needs more melt-freeze, esp. up high to consolidate for good spring skiing.
« Last Edit: 04/27/09, 11:51 AM by jd » Logged
Jason_H.
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Re: April 26, 2009, Big Four, East Face attempt
« Reply #1 on: 04/27/09, 11:54 AM »

JD,

I loved reading your TR...and the route, while it's not a great ski route, the mountain makes up for the lack. Just climbing that thing makes me happy. The skiing was a bonus! Great photos and effort. Lets hope we get some freeze thaw soon.
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Stugie
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Re: April 26, 2009, Big Four, East Face attempt
« Reply #2 on: 04/27/09, 01:55 PM »

Good skills and great pics!  Nice work!
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"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
Eric Johnson
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Re: April 26, 2009, Big Four, East Face attempt
« Reply #3 on: 04/27/09, 02:10 PM »

the Mt. Loop still needs more melt-freeze, esp. up high to consolidate for good spring skiing.


Agree these areas need more consolidating.  Dug a small pit on Jumbo SW Face yesterday and found a good, consolidated 10-inch layer above a thick layer of sugar snow.  Very distinct transition.  Lots of recent debris on those open slopes from the warm trend last week.

Nice go at this tough peak, jd.
« Last Edit: 04/28/09, 06:24 AM by Eric Johnson » Logged
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