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| | |-+  May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
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Author Topic: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"  (Read 3381 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« on: 06/02/09, 11:14 PM »



Gordy, Tom, and David follow the divide toward Neyah Point with Glacier Peak in the distance.


The origins of this trip can be traced to Dwight Watson, the father of backcountry skiing in the North Cascades.  In June 1937, Watson and Sigurd Hall skied from the Little Wenatchee River along the Cascade Crest to White Mountain, hoping to ski Glacier Peak.  They ran out of time on that trip, but a year later they returned via Milk Creek to make the first ski ascent of the volcano.  In September 1938, Watson and Paul Flint completed a pioneering backpacking loop (without skis) from the White River to Boulder Pass and along the north side of the Dakobed Range, returning to their car via White Pass and Indian Creek.  In those days, there was no name for the group of high peaks between Clark Mountain and the Kololo Peaks, now called the Dakobed Range.  Watson called them "The Delectable Mountains," a reference to John Bunyan's book, The Pilgrim's Progress (ref: Dwight Watson scrapbook, UW accession 2170-004, p. 311).

The first ski traverse of the Dakobed Range was made by Gary Brill, Joe Catellani, and Brian Sullivan in June 1982.  They traversed from the White Chuck Glacier to Clark Mountain over five days, skiing eight named glaciers along the way.  My brother Carl and I skied through this area during a 1989 traverse of the Suiattle River headwaters.  We barely touched the Dakobed Range, so I returned in the summer of 2006 to walk Dwight Watson's loop route, traveling higher on the peaks than he did.  That trip convinced me that the area deserved a more thorough visit on skis.



Thumbnails, from left (click to enlarge). One: David at Walrus Glacier camp. Two: Paul and Gordy climb the south slopes of Glacier Peak. Three: Lowell shoots Crispin...shooting Tom...shooting Glacier Peak.


On Thursday, May 28, David Nicholson, Crispin Prahl, Paul Russell, and I drove from Seattle to Coles Corner east of Stevens Pass.  There we met Tom Janisch from Wenatchee and my brother Gordy from Mazama.  We drove to the end of the White River road and began hiking toward Boulder Pass carrying skis and five days of food.  After a hot, dry climb out of the White River valley we reached continuous snow around 4000ft, where Boulder Creek bends northward.  We put on skis and climbed through Boulder Pass to the east edge of the Walrus Glacier, where we camped.  After supper we took a ski run on the little peak at the east edge of the glacier, which might be called "Walrus Point."

The snow didn't freeze overnight.  Although we packed up shortly after daybreak on day two, the east facing Walrus Glacier was already mushy as we began to climb.  Conditions improved higher, where the glacier faced less directly into the sun.  At the top of the glacier we dropped our packs and skied to the true summit of Clark Mountain.  I was surprised that the summit rocks were covered well enough to be skiable.  Returning to our packs, we traversed mostly on the north side of the range past Luahna Peak, which would also have been skiable (earlier, after a cool night).  We bypassed Luahna and skied Chalangin Peak from the north.  Finally, we traversed the Butterfly Glacier to a camp about a mile southeast of Neyah Point.



At Butterfly Glacier camp, Paul enjoys the view while Crispin warms up his smiling muscles for the day ahead.


From our high camp we inspected a route that I hoped would lead into Thunder Basin to access Tenpeak Mountain.  With steep slopes and recent avalanching, it looked unpleasant for skiing.  We decided to skip Tenpeak and spend time exploring the upper Suiattle-Honeycomb Glaciers.  Rainer Burgdorfer's 1986 guidebook says "this area deserves an entire week of attention." On the morning of the third day, we followed the divide to Neyah Point, a fantastic viewpoint, then skied the Moth Glacier to about 6000ft and traversed the north slope of Tenpeak to the Honeycomb Glacier.  We ascended the glacier and skied the highest of the Kololo Peaks.  We also scrambled up "Tiger Tower," a rock pinnacle made famous by an Ira Spring photo in the 1969 Superior book, The North Cascades National Park.  We camped at the Whitechuck-Suiattle Glacier saddle.

The traverse had been marvelous, and we hoped to top it off with an ascent of Glacier Peak on the fourth day.  After Friday's temperature peak, the nights were gradually cooling and we awoke to a good freeze on Sunday.  It was a pleasure to leave overnight packs behind to climb the Gerdine Glacier toward the Disappointment Peak saddle.  On the final slope below the summit of Glacier Peak we met Linden and Carl, a skier and split-boarder who were making a two-day climb of the volcano from the North Fork Sauk River.  High clouds gave way to sunshine just in time for our ski descent from the summit.  We found the best corn snow of the trip on the slopes of Glacier Peak.



Thumbnails, from left (click to enlarge). One: Tom pauses below Honeycomb Glacier. Two: Crispin and Tom celebrate atop "Tiger Tower." Three: Hiking down the Indian Creek trail.


In early afternoon we packed up and moved camp to White Pass.  On the fifth day we skied along the Cascade Crest to Indian Pass.  We were able to ski about three miles down Indian Creek, crossing huge new avalanches that ran during the winter.  We changed to tennis shoes and followed the trail back to the White River and our cars.  The route had been a delight, and our group had gotten along wonderfully.

Dwight Watson retained a life-long affection for these mountains.  In the 1970s, while preparing Volume 2 of his Cascade Alpine Guide, Fred Beckey contacted his old mentor for advice.  Watson described his trips in the area and suggested that the range be called "The Delectable Mountains."  In a 1976 letter, Fred replied:

"We will use the name Dakobed Range for the ridge east of White Mountain (to Clark Mountain).  This is an old Indian name for Glacier Peak, and would be nice to preserve.  The name 'Delectable Mountains' is quite nice, but I'm too far along on art work, writing, and various agreements on these names to change it now.  Two years ago it would have been easy."

Dwight Watson was a humble and unassuming man. I doubt that it bothered him very much that his preferred name wasn’t used. So "Dakobed Range" will remain, and it is a good name.  But I think it's fitting to remember Dwight Watson when we follow in his tracks.  So I like to think of this route as "The Delectable Tour." It certainly was for us.



Tom skis Chalangin Peak with Glacier Peak in the distance.


« Last Edit: 07/10/11, 03:38 PM by Marcus » Logged
Dale Crockatt
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #1 on: 06/03/09, 03:56 AM »

Delightful.  Delicious!  Food for the soul...  When I read your stories I always enjoy the multiple perspectives in time.  I always have a soft spot for the classics.  Thanks for soothing my restless spirit Lowell.   
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Happy trails!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dave_R
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #2 on: 06/03/09, 07:09 AM »

Very nice!  And, as usual, way to hit the window of pleasant weather, (maybe just a tad mushy, though).  That area's been on my list for quite some time.  Thanks for the story, beta, and history.
-Dave R
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ryanl
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #3 on: 06/03/09, 07:16 AM »

Great traverse Lowell and Co. That area is pretty special...
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jwplotz
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #4 on: 06/03/09, 07:33 AM »

Amazing:  Photos and story.  I am going there...
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Stugie
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #5 on: 06/03/09, 08:26 AM »

As always, great read and awesome pictures!  I was actually wondering yesterday when your next tr was going to be up...figured you were on a trip.  That area looks absolutely amazing.  I like the way you always tie the history of the area to your trip.  Way to get some turns.
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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
Marcus
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #6 on: 06/03/09, 08:54 AM »

Great trip Lowell -- I'd recognize Crispin's smiling mug anywhere, though I haven't skied with him in years.
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Jason_H.
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #7 on: 06/03/09, 09:21 AM »

...so very jealous. I was about to go out there this week, but didn't. This report will work in lieu. Yes it will. What an area.
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Pete Alderson
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #8 on: 06/03/09, 09:37 AM »

great report Lowell!   i'm headin' in there next week....great to get so much recent info.
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JimD
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #9 on: 06/03/09, 10:50 AM »

Sweet. Thanks for the TR and more ideas. I love the pic of the guys on Tiger Tower.
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Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #10 on: 06/03/09, 11:45 AM »

Lowell, et al - phenomenal - love it - getting some great ideas...........for next year
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Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
Paul_Russell
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #11 on: 06/03/09, 01:56 PM »

Thanks for a great trip and report Lowell!  An amazing place to experience on skis with the interconnection of glaciers for such a distance.  I think "The Delectable Tour" is a very fitting name.  A few additional pictures...


Gordy crossing the Suiattle Glacier


Lowell skiing from Neyah Point


Approaching Glacier Peak
« Last Edit: 06/03/09, 02:12 PM by Paul_Russell » Logged
ski_photomatt
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #12 on: 06/03/09, 02:35 PM »

Great photos and story!  Thanks for the TR.
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Marcus
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #13 on: 06/03/09, 04:12 PM »

I just spent half an hour following your traverse on TOPO.  Great stuff... so many of the named peaks and glaciers that you passed aren't in the software, unfortunately.
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RossMac
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #14 on: 06/13/09, 02:53 PM »

Lowell -- Great TR (as always).  I friend and I did most of the same traverse on foot in late June many years ago -- one of the nicest high traverses I have done. Didn't see a soul except for little dots in the distance glissading down Glacier Peak as we approached across the snow field on a Sunday afternoon, and then the Navy fighter pilot that buzzed the pass.  Always thought that it would be a great one on skis. 
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #15 on: 06/17/09, 09:24 AM »

My brother Gordy posted a story about our trip on his blog at greatoutdoors.com:

http://www.greatoutdoors.com/blogs/gordys/20090615/skiing-the-dakobed-traverse-tools-or-toys

The story includes a nice video of skiing Glacier Peak. Enjoy!
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Monika
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Re: May 28-June 1, 2009, "The Delectable Tour"
« Reply #16 on: 06/19/09, 11:23 AM »

My brother Gordy posted a story about our trip on his blog at greatoutdoors.com:


    Thanks for sharing ~ another very enjoyable read and great pics !!

  The first ski day on the Walrus glacier I read that the snow hadn't refrozen overnight - had the same last year there and turned around.  Glad you all maneuvered that area safely.  And fortunate the rest of the conditions were "near perfect" for your party!
« Last Edit: 06/19/09, 10:55 PM by Monika » Logged
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