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|-+  2004 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  May 2004 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  April 30-May 3, 2004, Snoqualmie Haute Route
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Author Topic: April 30-May 3, 2004, Snoqualmie Haute Route  (Read 2773 times)

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April 30-May 3, 2004, Snoqualmie Haute Route
« on: 05/04/04, 10:24 AM »

Disclaimer: ╩This is long and wordy; I don't have any photos as we didn't have a digital camera along.

Cast of Characters: ╩Dave, Jen and this Troll

Approach: ╩
On Friday April 30th three of us set out to attempt the Snoqualmie Haute Route. ╩The drive up the road took quite a while and had a couple of interesting spots . . . i.e. creeping through a large pool of unknown deepness (it was fine, but dad was nervous) and going under a tree (5 feet in diameter) that was precariously resting over the road, we had 4 inches of clearance in the Explorer. ╩We started walking up hill at about 2400' where the road was blocked by another huge tree that happened to fall along the road instead of across it.

Day 1: ╩The Bushwhack
We got to the trailhead proper and started the 'hike' up to Hardscrabble Lake. ╩There was no snow so the bushwhacking began!!! (Clue 1 to lack of snow cover) It was HOT and less than ideal but we made it to snow at about 3600' and then continued to boot pack through the dense trees to the lake at 4060'. ╩Finally the ski tour begins! ╩We took the boards off the packs and made our way around Hardscrabble Lake to the west, then curved around to the east and made our way to Upper Hardscrabble Lake at 4600'. ╩From here we headed NNW to gain the saddle at 5800'. ╩This slope was getting pretty sun baked; there was one small wet snow slough. ╩We had planned to make it farther on day one or go on the side trip to Big Snow, but given the time of day and pitch of the next slope we opted to camp at this saddle. ╩The views were spectacular, a great spot to camp

Day 2: ╩Hey, We're touring
Since it was predicted to be another hot day we got an early start with the hope of making it a bit farther than the Middle Fork valley floor. ╩We hoped to make it up near the Summit Chief Col to camp high again and try to get ahead of schedule. ╩Since things were going slow we decided to skip the Mt. Hinman side trip in order to make up some ground. ╩We skied down the north facing slope from our camp in lovely breakable crust, traversed to the east above some minor cliff bands and then switched to skins at about 5300'. ╩Up to a small shoulder at 5400' to the basin above Gold Lake. ╩The target saddle was straight across the basin but the headwall looked like a steep boot pack so we opted for the variation of touring counterclockwise around the basin. ╩We reached a spot on the ridge that looked like we could gain the Crawford Creek side but it would have required a small down climb or a possible rappel. ╩We opted to continue around the basin for the notch that Martin's route goes through. ╩This was a good choice as the pass through was easy. ╩So from this 6000' notch we skied down to where the route cliffed out a bit and we thought we were going to have to rappel off a small waterfall, but with some poking around in the trees we were able to find a way across the falls. ╩From this point at about 4600' we skinned up to a small hanging basin at 5200'. ╩This was one of my favorite spots so far, great views south to Mt. Rainier and Overcoat, and really remote feeling. ╩Then we skinned north up out of this basin to the ridge at about 5700'. ╩From here we were a little confused by the route description but ended up climbing the narrow and somewhat exposed ridge to its highpoint. ╩From this point we could see our objective and the second clue to the lack of snow. ╩ ╩We were supposed to skirt Crawford Lake on the north and traverse below Iron Cap Mountain. ╩However all of the slopes under Iron Cap were bare! ╩So we descended fairly directly to the valley floor and made our way up the Middle Fork to about 4100'. ╩From this point it's up hill to Summit Chief Col and that is the point of no (easy) return. ╩Based on the obvious lack of snow on slopes of similar aspect to some of the exposed skiing ahead we started to really doubt that the route was in shape. ╩Then the sky started to cloud up...that pushed us over the edge...we called the trip.

Day 3: ╩The Escape
We woke at 5:30 to a light mist, by the time we ate and broke camp it was a nice 34-degree drizzle. ╩We skied out along the Middle Fork until we got to the trail and started the walk out at about 3500'. ╩We got back to the trailhead at about 10:15AM, after a short snack and a check for cell phone coverage we started the death march out the road. ╩By 11:30 we had passed a number of people so our hopes of getting a ride and not walking 12-24 miles in ski boots were building. ╩The first truck that was headed down hill stopped and agreed to give us a ride. ╩So, three of us, our skis, ice axes, packs, crampons, poles and stinky bodies got in the back of this little ford ranger that was already packed to the gills. ╩It was a bumpy and jolting ride, but we made it down to the gas station at Edgewick without incident.

My Impressions: ╩Normally we tour at about the pace that Martin lays out in his guidebook. ╩This time we were lagging way behind his guess is that it must have been the bush whacking, breakable crust and deep creamed corn combined with carrying larger packs. ╩The terrain back there is really amazing and I would like to tour back there some more. ╩Next time I give this tour a go we'll do some better reconnaissance and probably plan on 6 days, not the 5 we were trying for. ╩This way we could get some good side trips in. ╩Then again if the corn was prime and the coverage was better we would have made better time on this trip.
« Last Edit: 10/25/04, 06:51 PM by admin » Logged
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