I was getting impatient after a four day hiatus of mountaineering and wanted/needed to get my fix ASAP. As we all know the weather has been anything but good in the Cascades so a mostly cloudy forecast was promising enough to get back into the mountains. I’ve always wanted to check out Ohanapecosh and seeing it from the Cowlitz chimney just added fuel to the fire.
Our route from the Cowlitz Chimney
Jon G and I left the fryingpan creek trailhead around 9:30a.m.and hiked around 4 miles before reaching continuous snow. Once at Summerland we were able to skin all the way up the Fryingpan Glacier to Whitman Crest. One of the reasons we chose Ohanapecosh was the fact that it was in Rainiers Rain shadow but as we rested at our highpoint the clouds devoured our views in all directions. Luckily we were able to scope our run and after giving up on the chance of the sun coming back out we dropped into the unknown. We were well aware that the area was riddled with cliffs and that there would only be a few ride able routes. After some amazing turns down the low angled fryingpan glacier we found a route through the cliffed out cirque of Ohanapecosh glacier. We stayed on the side of the Moraine all the way down to Indian flats at 5’200 feet passing well over 100 waterfalls along the way. The snow in the gut was a weird texture I hadn’t seen before it looked like a mixture between avi chunder and glacial debris probably caused by rain.
I love dirty snow Photo by Jon G
For our route back we decided to follow the wonderland trail back up to fryingpan Gap which was relatively easy but a very scenic route. By the time we made it to the gap the clouds rolled in and visibility had become an issue. After a few minutes of waiting the clouds cleared up for our run down The Sarvant Glacier back to Summerland. The snow was still in good condition all the way down to the trail at 6000 feet were we put our gear on our backs and packed out the final 4 miles back to the car.
Jon Ripping down the Sarvant Glacier
15+ miles Total Vert around 7000 feet 12 hours
yes I know I can't write you can blame the Kent education system for that one
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............