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Author Topic: May 1-4, 2009 Hurricane Ridge to Royal Basin  (Read 1828 times)
trees4me
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May 1-4, 2009 Hurricane Ridge to Royal Basin
« on: 05/07/09, 12:01 AM »

TR:† Royal Traverse aka Hurricane Deception

Well after years of wanting to do this trip, I finally assembled some family members and set out from Hurricane Ridge in hopes of coming out Royal Basin.† We planned to take 4 days, and figured that would give us enough time to deal with inevitable route-finding and weather related obstacles.† ***We may have underestimated the impact of poor weather.***

I know this trip report is ridiculously long, but hopefully someone else will find it helpful in a few years, as I found this one from last year quite helpful in planning:
http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=10132.0

 

Pics at:† http://picasaweb.google.com/sheekus2000/RoyalTraverse

 

Left the parking lot at Hurricane ridge on Friday at about 10:30am in bright sunshine.† Looking around we were a little concerned there wasnít more snow, but we were in high spirits and hoped to camp in Grand Valley for day 1.† Skinned along the ridge and ran into Jack, a lone skier that frequents the ridge and the only person we saw in the backcountry the entire trip.† Shortly after passing Obstruction Peak, we had the first test of the trip with a nasty bout of exercise induced food poisoning that left Andrew completely dehydrated.† That led to talk of camping there for the night and retreating in the morning, but he kept insisting we should go ahead slowly and see if his condition would improve, which it did.† We ripped skins off for the first time and dropped to Grand Lake in great corn snow.† Found a nice field on the edge of Grand Lake to camp at and were able to pump all the water Andrew could drink from a stream feeding the lake.† Unfortunately, this was the only time we used our pump.† (Day 1 3000+ ft and† 10 miles)

 

Day 2 we set off and fought through trees and cliffs for a couple hours before finally getting to Gladys Lake.† From there it was straightforward up to peak 6701 at the head of Grand Valley.† The second good ski descent was off this peak to the south along the ridge and then dropping west into the Lillian Basin around 5400-ft.† We were awed by the rugged ridge to the east of Lillian Glacier as we made our way south to the head of the glacier.† At this point we were faced with the decision to either boot to the top of peak 6728 and take our chances with being able to ski off the back into the Cameron Basin or boot down 50-ft of loose scree to snow patches and traverse below ridgeline in the Lost River Basin.† Since we could see the route and it looked reasonable, we descended into the Lost River Basin.† After traversing south, we climbed about 400-ft out to the top of the Lost-Cameron ridge, melted a little snow and rested on the ridge before descending into Cameron Basin.† We reached the Cameron River as the weather set in for the first time and a sleet snow mix began to fall.† Quickly, we slogged up our final ascent of the day in increasingly nastier weather.† We leveled out a couple of tent sites in a small clump of trees on a low ridge in upper Cameron Basin.† Cooking dinner and melting snow was a real chore that night, as the wind and snow was swirling around in 60+mph gusts from every direction.† Our 4-season MK3 stood up very well, however Gil and Andrew were in a mostly mesh 3-season tent that barely survived and poles were bent.† (Day 2 4500 ft and 6+ miles)

 

After a miserable night, we awoke Sunday to bluebird skies and glowing peaks of the upper Cameron.† One by one we slowly packed up and headed east, enjoying the rapid change in our surroundings and moods.† A quick skin up to the pass separating the west and east forks of Cameron Creek led to a change in itinerary.† We had planned to travel along the ridge of Cameron, summit and then ski down towards Cedar Lake, however the valley below was too inviting and we were slightly behind schedule.† So we went for a big descent all the way down to just below treeline on the east fork of Cameron Creek (el 4800-ft).† A nice skin in bright sun led to incredible views of the Cameron Glaciers and finally an overlook of Cedar Lake.† The Mount Cameron group includes many incredible skiing opportunities and we easily could have spent a week exploring the many different aspects.† Out of Cedar Lake Basin and our first glimpse of The Needles.† Our tired legs were happy to see an easy route across the aspects we could see in upper Gray Wolf Basin.† The weather turned again and it began to snow as we crossed Gray Wolf, but there was very little wind and we made good time.† Skins off and on a couple times before arriving at our final campsite.† The sun fought hard through the clouds for us, and we dug extravagant tent platforms on a treed bench at el. 5700-ft just below the Deception glacier basin.† (Day 3 4000+ ft and 6+ miles).


Our ride was going to hike in and meet us around 2pm in lower Royal Basin, so just in case, we planned an early start for Monday.† Our last obstacle was the Needles and we had hopes of summiting Mt Deception.† Overnight the weather came roaring in again, this time with more force, and no one heard there alarms on Monday morning.† We woke up around 6 and were skinning away at 7, first up the steep and icy slope to Deception Glacier basin, then up to the head of the Glacier.† We had planned on skiing down the normal climbersí route to Royal Basin.† After fighting sustained 50+mph winds up the glacier, we had lost any desire to summit Deception, and I was looking down the climberís route into Royal Basin.† Poles (and the ice ax at times) were out as I scouted from the top of the ridge.† The winds were from the South and East, and the Royal Basin side looked scoured.† With no ropes, a 60 pound pack, and tired legs, there was no route down that didnít seem extremely risky.† With fresh legs and no pack, there wasn't a route down that seemed doable either.† The best looking route, though I couldnít see all of it, seemed to traverse from the col to the south on a 10-ft wide sloped snow ledge perched above a 100-ft rock face.† I believe if we had made that traverse (about 50-100ft), we could have skied down continuous snow into Royal Basin.† But with winds that were blowing me off balance without my pack, and no fall protection, this was a no go.†
 

We dejectedly headed down the Deception Glacier in a white out of blowing snow, with a plan to go for Surprise Basin.† Three ascents stood between us and Surprise Gap.† The wind was picking up more and more and the south aspects were scoured ice.† Some of us were able to ski crampon up most of these slopes, however Emily fell at a switchback and we watched as she accelerated away a few hundred feet down the slope.† Amazingly, she did not hit any rocks, and after finally coming to a rest at the bottom of the slope announced she was ok.† Andrew was nearby and dropped down to make sure she was really ok.† Gil and I were near the rocky pass and gearing up to boot the final pitch, so I ripped my skins and crampons off and headed down to help.† Everyone was exhausted at this point and the wind was not letting up.† Gusts would come through and blow us down if we didnít have poles out and well planted.† Eventually, everyone made this pass between the Needles and peak 7070, and the north side was filled with 4 to 8-in of leeward powder.† I dropped north from the pass onto a 55degree pitch and the top layer mostly just sluffed off although I was quite concerned about this reactive windslab.† We avoided convexities and stuck mostly to slopes broken up with previous avy debris.† Finally, we looked right and saw Surprise Gap, and our fingers were crossed that it would provide our entrance to Royal Basin.† There was an eerie calm as we slowly skinned up the deep snow towards the gap.† We could see the wind spinning snow into our basin and as we got higher the wind grew louder and louder.† Finally we pushed across Surprise Gap into a funnel of wind from Surprise Basin that left us unable to see and barely stand.† For a lack of wanting to stop, we descended blindly into Surprise Basin with skins on and heels unlocked.† After about 50-ft we stopped, and quickly got set for downhill, before trading blind crashes on unfamiliar slopes.† There was no definition and with a 70+mph wind in our face we couldnít even try to look down the hill.† After a long while and many falls not knowing which way was up or down, we emerged into Royal Basin.† Many hours late and radios ineffective due to the weather, we hustled with as much energy as we could muster.† I arrived at the trailhead at dusk, only because I didnít want to take my skis and boots off my pack and pack apart to dig up my headlamp.† I through everything in the truck we had left and warmed up for 20 minutes.† Exhausted, I was worried about the others, so I grabbed all the clothes I had and my headlamp and headed back in.† After an hour of fast hiking, I grabbed a pack and the 4 of us made the final push out.† We arrived at the trailhead at 11:30pm, totally soaked in the downpour and beaten.† I canít remember being happier to see that truck!† †(Day 4:† 3000+ ft, 17 hours, 12 miles)
 
We used every piece of gear we took, and ski crampons were essential on days 2-4.
« Last Edit: 05/07/09, 12:18 AM by trees4me » Logged

chill people, skiing is fun
Scole
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Re: May 1-4, 2009 Hurricane Ridge to Royal Basin
« Reply #1 on: 05/07/09, 01:03 AM »

Wow. What an ordeal and test of resolve. Props to you & your group and for the great TR..
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ovrthhills
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Re: May 1-4, 2009 Hurricane Ridge to Royal Basin
« Reply #2 on: 05/07/09, 09:47 AM »

Nice Survival.† Monday was an unusual weather event for this time of year.
« Last Edit: 05/07/09, 10:32 AM by ovrthhills » Logged
Kyle Miller
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Re: May 1-4, 2009 Hurricane Ridge to Royal Basin
« Reply #3 on: 05/07/09, 10:09 AM »

That my friend is awesome.
Nice work.
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
trees4me
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Re: May 1-4, 2009 Hurricane Ridge to Royal Basin
« Reply #4 on: 05/07/09, 10:27 AM »

Thanks guys.  We can check that one off the list.


ovrthhills - yes we looked at the weather report.  We expected some snow and potential low clouds, but did not expect the wind to be so bad.  That was a surprise  Wink

Next year there's talk of the Bailey range...
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chill people, skiing is fun
danhelmstadter
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Re: May 1-4, 2009 Hurricane Ridge to Royal Basin
« Reply #5 on: 05/07/09, 11:17 AM »

WOW

thanks for the great tr, it makes me shiver.

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telemack
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Re: May 1-4, 2009 Hurricane Ridge to Royal Basin
« Reply #6 on: 05/07/09, 09:11 PM »

The Olys can be burly.  Something kept slamming the weather windows in your face, eh.
Last year Snowbell and I looked down the (NNW) side of Surprise Gap.  What do estimate the angle and vert. of that face is?
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There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
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Don Heath
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Re: May 1-4, 2009 Hurricane Ridge to Royal Basin
« Reply #7 on: 05/07/09, 09:15 PM »

Yowser!  I've hiked and camped in many of those places, but never in the winter.  Rugged trip!  Thanks for the great TR!
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The best part of summer skiing is napping on a warm rock.
trees4me
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Re: May 1-4, 2009 Hurricane Ridge to Royal Basin
« Reply #8 on: 05/08/09, 08:26 AM »

Quote
The Olys can be burly.  Something kept slamming the weather windows in your face, eh.
Last year Snowbell and I looked down the (NNW) side of Surprise Gap.  What do estimate the angle and vert. of that face is?

Telemack - I'd say around 45 with short pitches +/- 5.  Looking up at it, we figured we were going to have to boot, but there was so much freshly deposited snow we laid a nice track down to the pass.  I'd say it drops about 800 ft to the bench, and there's a steep rollover skier's right in the middle (after it opens up).  Sorry I don't have a good pic looking down, the camera wasn't coming out much at that point...

It's amazing what a difference a few days in the office makes.  I'm already planning the next adventure.  (it'll include a little more sunshine)
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chill people, skiing is fun
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