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Author Topic: May 31, 2009 Rock Mountain  (Read 1556 times)
John Morrow
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May 31, 2009 Rock Mountain
« on: 05/31/09, 08:01 PM »

I had been getting quite complacent and comfortable sitting on the porch, in the shade, reading for hours.  Or doing the same on the patio of the Roslyn Natural Market, coffee and scone in hand, juggling the book between sips and bites.  I even had the good fortune of a couple trip offers as the weekend approached but declined.
I guess it was a bit hard to imagine skiing when I suspected the temps up high on the snow would exceed 70 degrees F.  But Jake wouldn't let me waste the weekend away especially since it is one of his last opportunities to ski before leaving for Colorado to raft guide.  So last minute I rallied to get up quite early this morning so we could meet in Leavenworth be at the TH on or before 7:30AM.

As one would expect, all the switchbacks are free of snow on the Rock Mtn. Trail at this point.  The last couple switchbacks, before the trail crests where the ridge mellows at 5000 feet, were patchy.  We were able to put the skis on at 5100 feet removing them for one very short dirt patch (skied below it on return). 

The snow was surprisingly firm with the high clouds protecting it a bit form the hot sun.  Crampons were of great help skinning up.  Some folks were booting it, off and on, through the day and seemed to get some good firm step kick placements.

We reached the summit lookout site in relatively good time.  We knew that the main run southeast back to the trail would be too fast and short factoring in the altitude loss in a traverse below the south trending ridge in order to return to the trail.  Therefore, we decided a run off the north slope was in order.  Snow was great with about a one to two inch ski penetration, occasionally it would throw you forward when water saturated.  I took a good header and slide but it was a great run overall.  So very much potential on that giant north slope of Rock, but how to get to it in the winter?

Skins, crampons back on for the return to the top.  The north slope has one 38 to 40 degree short headwall that we were glad again to have the crampons for.  Jake was real strong today and made me a nice up track through it.   Then it was down the awkward corniced south ridge off the top toward the south summit. Met a few nice folks here, too.  Once past the cornices it was turn into the fall line toward Rock Lake.  By now the snow was a bit soupy on the east facing slope but still quite turnable.  Then the turn into the Schilling Creek headwaters and one final slope of turns to about 5400 ft, before angling right and south on a steep traverse back to the summer trail.

I've wanted to hit that North slope of Rock for a long time.  We may have been a bit late this May, beginning of May perhaps would allow for a longer ski back toward the TH on the south ridge, but one can ski the north side as low as one is willing to climb up back out.  We turned around at about 5400 feet where it was mellowing considerably.  Good stuff.  It has another good week in it for those who don't mind the skis on the back for 3 miles of switchbacks.  Perhaps I might get one more trip in with Jake this coming wkd, but it will be tough to see my close friend and primary mountain partner this year take off for Colorado.  It has been one heck of a great winter, though!
Pic 1: Jake on North slope
Pic 2: Jakes great skin track back up the north slope
Pic 3: Rock Lake bowl


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« Last Edit: 06/01/09, 05:33 AM by John_Morrow » Logged
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