telemark skiingbackcountry skiingPacific NorthwestWashington and Oregonweather linksThe Yuki AwardsMt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
Turns All Year
www.turns-all-year.com
  Help | Search | Login | Register
Turns All Year Trip Reports
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
08/22/14, 02:48 AM

Solar Halo over Tahoma
on TAY home page
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
Turns All Year Trip Reports
(1) Viewing these pages constitutes your acceptance of the Terms of Use.
(2) Disclaimer: the accuracy of information here is unknown, use at your own risk.
(3) Trip Report monthly boards: only actual trip report starts a new thread.
(4) Keep it civil and constructive - that is the norm here.
 
FOAC Snow
Info Exchange


NWAC Avalanche
Forecast
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  March 2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  March 21, 2010, Springtime in Hel, Cannon Mtn
:
« previous next »
Pages: [1] | Go Down Print
Author Topic: March 21, 2010, Springtime in Hel, Cannon Mtn  (Read 1070 times)
ADappen
5Member
Offline

Posts: 49


WWW
March 21, 2010, Springtime in Hel, Cannon Mtn
« on: 03/24/10, 03:03 PM »

A week ago, with the vernal equinox bearing down upon us, Tom Janisch and I searched for an appropriate destination to celebrate the day. Where better to sample some heat, we decided, than to ski Cannon Mountain via Hel Basin.

March 21 arrives and shortly after dawn we’re walking through the shadow of spring. Unlike two weeks ago, we now need to walk rather than ski the first two miles of the Eightmile Road leading to the Stuart Lake Trailhead.

Four miles up the road and another mile up the Stuart Lake Trail, we strike off cross-country and skin upward through mushy snow. Soon the slopes leading to Hel Basin greet us with their  jumble of truck-sized boulders and boulder-sized avalanche debris. We wander upward through all this detritus and soon reach Hells Gate, a bulge of blue ice that, once scrambled, provides the easiest entrance to the basin. Skis and poles are replaced by crampons and ice axes and, half an hour later, we enter Hel.

Contrary to  Dante’s Inferno, our Hel is sacred with orange-tinged larch trees, salt and pepper granite boulders, charcoal spires, Photo Shopped blue skies, and white-barked pines…which are green.  It’s all so Sierra like, but more compact…more neck crimping. Which means, of course, that it must be the Cascades.

We climb through spring, enjoying the sun as it occasionally vaporizes holes in the clouds and rains heat and skin cancer over us. At the 7,300-foot level, however, we approach a curious portal. Over the course of several steps, we move from spring on protected slopes to winter on a wind-buffeted ridge. We slip on windshells and attack the remaining 1,300 vertical feet of the climb, confident it will succumb to our awesomeness.

The first third of the ridge bows before us. The second third seriously shifts the flow of respect. There’s no longer enough snow to skin upward  yet the patches of white between all the rock outcrops are thigh-deep pools of sugar snow that mire us.

The final third of the ridge is being whipped with even stronger winds that are super cooling anything warm. Hel is freezing over. So are my fingers, lips, ears, and eyes. My desire to reach the top has already frozen.

“What happened to spring?” Tom asks.

“Let’s look for it down lower.”

Tom has no objections. We return to 7,300-foot portal dividing the seasons and linger here. Should we sample spring corn on the south-facing slopes we climbed? Or should we drop over the opposite side of the ridge and look for powder, the fruit of winter, on a north-facing avalanche path?

In the end, we discover we’re really not creatures of springtime. We violate the mission that brought us here and go hunting for powder.  And we find it –nearly two thousand vertical feet of it.

Over the course of two hours, we drop from avalanche paths to forests, forests to trails, and trails to roads. As we drop,  not even aspect can hold back the tide of season. The snow morphs from powder to some substrate resembling a used Pamper.  And then, strangely, it just disappears. Poof. Gone. And we’re walking the last two miles of dirt road leading back to the car.

On the ascent, the difference between dirt and snow hardly mattered. On the descent, however, the road would be such an easy glide. And walking this sucker is such tedium…such Hell. Winter may have bested us up on Cannon's summit ridge, but here and now I’m wishing Hell would freeze over again.

++++


Find more photos and details about skiing Hel Basin. Or find the details of other Central Washington tours.



* Cannon-Hell2010-17.JPG (121.05 KB, 800x564 - viewed 565 times.)

* Cannon-Hell2010-18.JPG (66.21 KB, 701x800 - viewed 573 times.)

* Cannon-Hell2010-24.JPG (151.5 KB, 644x800 - viewed 561 times.)
« Last Edit: 03/24/10, 03:07 PM by ADappen » Logged
Snow Bell
Member
Offline

Posts: 509


Re: March 21, 2010, Springtime in Hel, Cannon Mtn
« Reply #1 on: 03/25/10, 04:51 PM »

Great read as always.  Thank you for contributing.
Logged

Life is going to slide by you one way or another
trees4me
Member
Offline

Posts: 486


Re: March 21, 2010, Springtime in Hel, Cannon Mtn
« Reply #2 on: 03/25/10, 05:58 PM »

I was thinking of checking out Cannon soon, what made you take the Hel Basin approach?   How bad was the "ice bulge", were ice tools necessary or was it straighforward with crampons?

I'm not grossly familiar with the area, but I'd planned on heading up the old road that continues from the lake stuart parking lot.  Maybe that's just too long an approach...
Logged

chill people, skiing is fun
ADappen
5Member
Offline

Posts: 49


WWW
Re: March 21, 2010, Springtime in Hel, Cannon Mtn
« Reply #3 on: 03/26/10, 07:55 AM »

We skied Hel Basin mainly for the novelty factor. We've both skied a number of other lines on Cannon and, on the first day of spring, it seemed like a nice juxtaposition to visit Hell.

We'd also looked into the basin from Cashmere Mtn a few weeks earlier and it looked like nice terrain.

Regarding the ice bulge, it was simple from a climbing standpoint but still attention-getting for those of us who prefer planks over spiked feet. There was perhaps 70  feet of traversing and climbing on blue ice or ice covered with a skin of snow before the snow plumped up again for easy booting. Aluminum crampons and a lightweight mountaineering axe were fine for the job but it would have been tricky to move through here without them.
Logged
trees4me
Member
Offline

Posts: 486


Re: March 21, 2010, Springtime in Hel, Cannon Mtn
« Reply #4 on: 03/26/10, 09:31 AM »

It looks like a great tour and a beautiful basin!
Thanks for the beta on the ice bulge.
Logged

chill people, skiing is fun
Pages: [1] | Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Login with username, password and session length

Thank you to our sponsors!
click to visit our sponsor: Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
click to visit our sponsor: Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
click to visit our sponsor: Second Ascent
Second Ascent
click to visit our sponsor: American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
click to visit our sponsor: Pro Guiding Service
Pro Guiding Service
Contact turns-all-year.com

Turns All Year Trip Reports ©2001-2010 Turns All Year LLC. All Rights Reserved

The opinions expressed in posts are those of the poster and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Trip Reports administrators or Turns All Year LLC


Turns All Year Trip Reports | Powered by SMF 1.0.6.
© 2001-2005, Lewis Media. All Rights Reserved.