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|-+  2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  March 2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  March 23-25, 2010, Mt. Maude, N. Face, Ski
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Author Topic: March 23-25, 2010, Mt. Maude, N. Face, Ski  (Read 2948 times)

Posts: 70

March 23-25, 2010, Mt. Maude, N. Face, Ski
« on: 03/25/10, 11:50 PM »

Trip: Mt. Maude, N. Face Ski Descent
Trip Date: 3/23-25/2010

I’d been drooling over Scurlock’s photo looking down the N. Face of Maude for a while. With a weather window and Spring Break just getting going, I decided to give it a go.
I tried to get an early start Tuesday, which was complicated by the previous night’s celebration to the end of the quarter. “Spring Break, 2010. Whatcom County ed. Show us your tits!” I also had to cut skins and get bindings on my new Dynafit Stokes (which, apparently you can eff up, even with the idiot proof, DYI binding inserts).
Loaded my sled and was on the road to Fish Lake by 1230 and skinning by 1800. Reached camp in the upper Leroy Creek basin around 2130.
My planned 0600 departure time got pushed back by couple hours and by 1000 I was on the col between Seven Fingered Jack and Maude. The snowpack was a huge concern, with reports of buried surface hoar lingering from a few weeks ago. Encouraged by reports of improving stability on N slopes, I poked around just below the saddle. Finding moderate, resistant planar results within the top 10 cm and hard, resistant, planar results on a layer down 40 cm. There was no natural activity and all the test failures I produced did not seem to have much energy. It seemed like surface sloughing would be my main concern. I traversed out further onto the face, now seriously exposed over some very large cliffs. I dug another pit and found even less energy in the snowpack. This was my turn around point. If I kept going, I would be committing myself to massive unsupported faces for an extended period of time.
I proceeded on what was probably the most harrowing traverse I have ever made. I felt absolutely tiny and vulnerable in this terrain. After dropping about 300’ to 7,900’, the bootpacking began. No need for crampons, since I was wallowing through balls deep powder. Two hours later I was 40’ from the summit ridge, which is guarded by very large cornices. In reading some trip reports, I kept reading about” the Death Cornice” on the N. Face of Maude.  I’m not sure exactly which cornice was being referenced, because there are quite a few this time of year and they all looked quite deadly. To gain the ridge required sneaking between two spines, up a desperate, 55 degree gully of facets. I ended up digging a trench with my Whippet to find something resembling solid snow and eventually crested the ridge.
On the summit I saw Scott and Erik’s tracks down the SW side (click here for TR) from their one day endeavor the previous weekend.
My plan had been to cut a chunk of cornice onto my line, but given the fact I had just spent 2.5 hours on the face made me feel pretty good about stability. Nonetheless, I buried my skis, self-belayed to the edge of the summit and found myself staring down my line: a deep, 45-50 degree couloir that dropped 500’ before opening onto the lower faces of Maude. Across from me was a perfect entrance that required a 10’ rappel. For shits and giggles I dropped a chunk of cornice that just tumbled down the slot, leaving a trail of potholes in the soft snow. Looked like good skiing.
I rapped in off a 24” chunk of buried bamboo and some 6mm cord. The couloir skied great, I had minimal slough to manage and was able to link turns all the way down. After exiting, I made a traversing descent to the east, picking my way through cliff bands. I decided to ski to the base of Seven Fingered Jack and access the col from there, rather than skinning up my down track and exposing myself to the lower cliffs again. This added 1,000’ of fun skiing… and not so fun slogging. 
I made it back to camp around 1700. I considered packing up and heading out, but the isothermal sludge that had developed through the day would not have been fun to manage with a full pack in the dark. Rather, I cooked a leisurely meal and turned in early. I was back to my car by 1230 the next day.
I guess I can’t technically claim a winter descent since I missed the vernal equinox by a few days. But, it was an amazing ski in winter conditions.

* View_down_NeFaceMaude.jpg (255.14 KB, 517x387 - viewed 1235 times.)

* NFaceMaude.jpg (258.13 KB, 488x366 - viewed 1246 times.)

* NFMAUDESKI.jpg (41.38 KB, 400x533 - viewed 1210 times.)

Posts: 234

Re: March 23-25, 2010, Mt. Maude, N. Face, Ski
« Reply #1 on: 03/26/10, 07:00 AM »

Yowza, goodunonya!

Posts: 156

Re: March 23-25, 2010, Mt. Maude, N. Face, Ski
« Reply #2 on: 03/26/10, 07:27 AM »

Cahoneys of this caliber were not issued where I grew up.  Well played, Otter.  Solo, it seems?

Posts: 809

Re: March 23-25, 2010, Mt. Maude, N. Face, Ski
« Reply #3 on: 03/26/10, 07:29 AM »

That traverse is never fun. Way to ski a really rad line. Looks like you did a variation between the n face and the n face couloir? Conditions were awesome on n faces...very stable.

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