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| | |-+  July 10, 2010 Flett and Russell from Mowich Lake
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Author Topic: July 10, 2010 Flett and Russell from Mowich Lake  (Read 2158 times)

Posts: 296

July 10, 2010 Flett and Russell from Mowich Lake
« on: 07/11/10, 08:33 AM »

I'd been eyeing the tentative opening of the Mowich lake road the past few weeks with the hope that there might still be enough snow to ski from the lake up and over Knapsack Pass. I've been up in the area several times previously but usually in the fall when the heather paints Spray Park brilliant shades of red. While there are still patches in and around the lake, it was melted out enough to not make this an option. Two other adventurous souls ascended this way as well and were rewarded by the extra effort with extra effort.  The trail to Spray park is snow free, adding a little insult to my choice to hike up Knapsack Pass and leave the trail shoes in the back of the car.

Mowich lake from Knapsack Pass:

A fifty foot down climb accesses continuous snow in Mist Park down to ~5300ft, and with one short carry and determined route finding it is possible to leave the skis on the feet all the way to the top of the Russell Glacier.  Hot conditions and very little wind until above 10000ft made for some slow going and I got to experience a bonk like I haven't in a long time.  Met a nice party of 5 out to ski the Russell as well while having some lunch ~7500ft. One fellow had forgotten his skins but was getting on quite nmcely using ski crampons and a lower angle approach.  They peeled off ~9500ft and got first tracks down the wide open Russell, which has no signs of of crevasses. I continued upward and kept the skis on until close to 10K, where it became steep and firm enough that booting seemed like a better option- though the ski crampons were in the pack I lacked the energy to put them on.
At the top I met two climbers planning on summiting Rainier via the Mowich face. The had parked at White River and spent the night in Glacier Basin before hiking 8 hrs across to the Russell. They planned to climb the Mowich and cross over and descend via the Emmons today. Good luck guys, hope you made it safe! 

After an hour of chatting and recovering from leg cramps and applying some rub on wax I clicked in a and felt surprisingly good. The top section of the Russell was firm, smooth, and fast! I started out making nice arcs and then opened it up to really big turns hitting 47 mph on the GPS. Skied the Russell down 2500ft and switched over to skins and began climbing again.

The headwall by Observation rock looked to be in excellent condition on the climb up and I had nearly detoured to hit it before continuing to the Russell, and upon returning it was evident a few folks had beat me to it. I'll thank them for setting the skin track up to Observation Rock and knocking the wet slide down the face. I made one turn at the top in the slid section- which slid again, and then had great turns on the face at what must have been approaching 5 pm.

It is possible to link snow in Spray Park down to ~5700ft before switching back to shoes for the 2-3 mile walk back to Mowich lake.

Pretty puddles in Spray Park


not always bad

Posts: 386

Re: July 10, 2010 Flett and Russell from Mowich Lake
« Reply #1 on: 07/11/10, 09:17 AM »

yup, those 2 adventurous souls going through Knapsack Pass were me and Brenda. Good to meet up with someone back there who kind of knew the way, as it was our first time taking that route. I am confident it will be our last. The Spray Park trail is so much more direct. That's a nice tour you did dropping into Mist Park then over to the Russel. We ended up skiing directly up to the back side of Observation Rock between it and Echo Rock.

I took an embarrassing ride on a slide that I triggered on a steep 200' slope that had me searching for a buried ski and pole. Pretty stupid really. Needless to say, Brenda was not pleased. It was a good wake up call for me and a reminder that, even  in this summer season, there is still some unconsolidated snow above 7000' or so, and the heat of the last few days didn't help matters.

Mike Metz
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