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| | |-+  July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
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Author Topic: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle  (Read 4105 times)
Alan Brunelle
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Posts: 383


July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« on: 07/27/04, 03:01 AM »

A smokey start to the day!  The buildup of smoke from a fire to the east of the route the following night meant extreme smoke on route for the first three miles of hiking when the inversion broke.  Mostly clearing after that for a nice hike.  Cough, Cough!

The skiing was subpar.  Hard moderate sized suncups meant cautious descents on the pinnacle and environs.  Just two long descents done.  The conditions gave me signs of shin splints!  I never experienced that skiing before!

At least it was a very private experience as suprisingly, no other souls seemed to want to make the trek that day.

Lots of goats

Alan
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David_Coleman
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Posts: 381


Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #1 on: 07/27/04, 06:35 AM »

that's funny...I've been along Ptarmigan Ridge many times skiing, and I've always seen a fair number of goats...in fact when Scott, Ben, Charles and I were there in 9/01, we saw what amounted to probably 2-3 dozen in a herd along the trail where the snow is (closer to Coleman Pinnacle & further west).
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Alan Brunelle
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Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #2 on: 07/27/04, 08:24 AM »

I have some photos of them at a distance.  I'll make a count. I would say that there were at least two dozen.  It is interesting that there happened to be an article in the Seattle Times (Sunday?) on how the goat population in the North Cascades has tumbled, yet stabilized after skyrocketing in the Olympics.

These goats seemed to like to stay on the snow while I was there.  My guess was to stay away from bugs or stay cool.  They were high on the snowfields just to the North of Coleman Pinnacle.  I probably interferred with their movement across the snowfield at least once.  I did traverse a section high on the east slopes of the pinnacle in my ascent that clearly was a bedding area for these goats.  They can do a tremendous amount of damage to the soils and vegetation in these large groups, yet I am sure the ecosystem actually has adapted to the disturbance they generate.

It is odd that access to the Cougar Divide area has been limited because of wild life sensitivities, yet in an area such as the Coleman, where there is tons of human activity, that these goats seem to be thriving.  I accept that I may be wrong, maybe there used to be a hundred goats ten years ago, but it is hard to imaging the area support much more animals at that elevation and in those winter conditions.

Anyway it was neat to see them still again.

Alan
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markharf
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Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #3 on: 07/27/04, 09:16 AM »

Quote
It is odd that access to the Cougar Divide area has been limited because of wild life sensitivities, yet in an area such as the Coleman, where there is tons of human activity, that these goats seem to be thriving.  I accept that I may be wrong, maybe there used to be a hundred goats ten years ago, but it is hard to imaging the area support much more animals at that elevation and in those winter conditions.
Alan


I've wondered about this, too.  I usually see that herd of goats on Ptarmigan Ridge throughout the summer months, but I've never noticed them during the winter (not that I've gone looking, but I do ski that area from time to time).  My working hypothesis is that they go elsewhere, possibly over to the Cougar Divide/Chowder Ridge area, during the heavy snow months, then migrate back once Ptarmigan Ridge melts out in late spring.  If so, Cougar Divide might be where they give birth in the spring, hence the closure (recently rendered irrelevant by the washouts on the access road).

Goats and ptarmigan have both given me outstanding adreneline rushes by remaining well-camouflaged and inert until I almost run them down on skis.  Good thing our climate doesn't favor polar bears.

Alan, did you happen to take a peek over towards the Sholes Glacier?  Any speculation on snow conditions over there?  

Thanks,

Mark
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gregL
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WWW
Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #4 on: 07/27/04, 10:44 AM »

How about a picture of the goats, BigSnow?
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ml
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Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #5 on: 07/27/04, 02:02 PM »

Toured to the Sholes with sb on the 21st. While one aspect was akin to skiing on frozen cantaloupes, the fall line from the Portals and the higher adjacent slopes produced grins. Also found delightful slopes northwest of Coleman Pinnacle.

Twenty or so goats were beating the heat on the snow near the junction of Lasiocarpa & Ptarmigan ridges. It was a day to remind one how special the Cascades are: to ski tour in July with corn and cantaloupe, wildlife and wildflowers in silence and solitude.
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toby_tortorelli
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Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #6 on: 07/27/04, 02:42 PM »

In older hiking books, the melt-out lake on the sunny side of Coleman Pinnacle is refered to as 14 goat lake. So, two dozen sounds like they are doing well!....I skied on Sat. evening and it was O.K.... the night on Table Mtn. and the amazing Northern Lights were definitely the highlight. (although smokey!) Anyone have an update on the fire?
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Alan Brunelle
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Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #7 on: 07/27/04, 04:34 PM »

Got a count on the goats.  They should rename the lake 36 goat lake!  That is plus or minus a goat!

I will try to post a picture once I set up a free web site somehow.  Will take me a day or so to get the time to set it up.

Mark, I did the trip so that I could scope the Sholes and the east slopes just past the Portals.  I could see the slopes clearly, but ml's report should be trusted.  Note, I could see some cracks opening on the Sholes from my views near Coleman Pinnacle.  However, just a few patches of old firn and ice showing through. I had expected to do them as an overnight, but I am afraid that I will not be able to find the time before the conditions degrade there.

ml, I hiked the hill just north of the Portals last year and was amazed at those slopes falling on toward the Rainbow trench.  I figured with decent snow over 3,000 ft. of vertical could be had without the fear of crevasse issues.  My feeling is that conditions Sunday reminded me a lot of conditions late last August.   By the way, I skied the cantaloupes Sunday!

Alan
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markharf
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Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #8 on: 07/27/04, 07:07 PM »

Thanks for the reports.  I'm trying to decide whether to head out that way this weekend or save it for the dog days of September.  

Quote
to ski tour in July with corn and cantaloupe, wildlife and wildflowers in silence and solitude.


Such an explosion of alliterative grace can only mean you're no longer working endless hours, yes?  I call that good news.

Mark
« Last Edit: 07/27/04, 07:07 PM by markharf » Logged
wickstad
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Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #9 on: 07/28/04, 01:53 AM »

Quote


an explosion of alliterative grace
Mark


Indeed!
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andyski
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Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #10 on: 07/30/04, 04:59 PM »

Went to the Pinnacle area today (July 30) and found similar conditions to those reported (big surprise). West side of pinnacle had reasonable descents, but on bumpy suncups. Plenty of snow on that side, it appeared. The slope on the E. side (starting from near the top of the ridge down to the trail) was great for about 6 turns, then cupped-out. The hike is so sweet that any turns at all are a bonus. Saw the goat herd flock from the nob just SW of Pinnacle across the west snow slope I later skied. Awesome. Got asked 'Did you ski?' at least 10 times on the hike out. Managed to give polite answers 9 of those times.
FYI, Highway sign said Baker highway will be closed Aug. 3 10a-4p.
Also, what is the typical entry point to the Pinnacle's west slopes? I climbed the E. snow/kitty litter slope just before the trail turns west (just S. of Pinnacle). A better way?
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Alan Brunelle
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Re: July 25, 2004, Coleman Pinnacle
« Reply #11 on: 08/05/04, 03:10 AM »

I think that is the fastest and easiest approach.  A lot of the "kitty litter" is the disturbance caused by the goats.  This area is heavily trampled and there are areas that resemble nests, where I assume that goats bed down often.

Having seen this, I wonder if using that route is actually advised, since there seems to be potential to disturb animals that the NFS is concerned about.  On the other hand, we all know that the area is used by humans often and it is clear that that herd has not been suffering, considering the large number of animals I saw.

Alan
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