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| | |-+  August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers
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Author Topic: August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers  (Read 4043 times)
wolfs
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August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers
« on: 08/09/04, 08:10 AM »

This trip was an interesting study in contrasts. Executive summary: the Flett sucked. The Russell ruled.

I started up the hill real early via Knapsack route. Saw a group of 13 goats just a few hundred yards away on Fay Peak, including little ones, that was nice. By 7 AM the bugs were already biting, in both conventional and east-coast-figurative senses. DEET did little to dissuade them. An ice climbing class was assaulting the middle lobe Flett headwall. Probably this was the same ice-climbing class I saw here just about a year ago. Saw many other folks in the area early in the morning, much quasilegal camping both on the ridgetop and within the park proper. I climbed up the E lobe Flett w goal of getting high on the Russell. Somehow or another I wasn't making as rapid a pace as I had hoped, and the joker in the deck for this trip was that I was supposed to meet the rest of my family at the trailhead for Eunice Lake at 1 PM and go on a hike (my way of trying to bridge the world between ski-obsessed dementia and a normal life.) So I had to turn around at around 8000 feet on the Russell, just below a prominent red rock diving-board that probably has some kind of informal name I don't know.
OK the snow. The snow on the Russell was incredibly good August snow. Either a) it was fresh wet snow from Friday or early Saturday, already transitioned to a mushy kinda corn or b) it was rain at a very low temperature, low enough that instead of just making a runnelly mess it just touched up the surface a little like some kind of atmospheric Zamboni, and made the aforementioned corn that way. There was obvious fresh snow in the shade high on Observation, and what sure looked like a load of fresh snow on the shady sides of Willis Wall, Mowich Face etc. The Russell had prominent vertically oriented crevassing at a breakover around 8500 that I could see from below; to get higher you'd probably need to head to the middle of the glacier, but from what I could see all looked good into the high 9000's before reaching the "bombing range". There might have been a few incipient sags in between but nothing blatant. Looking down, there were some crevasses and ice showing but looked pretty mellow. Some more crevasses on far side but can't imagine why you'd go there. I sure wished that I had had about another 90 minutes of time to get up above 9K because every turn on the Russell was schweet.
Now, as for the Flett ... there was no blue ice showing anywhere actually, different from a year ago early August. The E lobe probably would have been fun but it isn't really steep and the vertical is short, so I traversed the entire thing and crossed the choss to get just below the headwall. For someone else, I think the headwall would have been skiable, it didn't look that blue. Could have given those ice climbers a surprise ... but not solo, not still before 11AM having been in sun only a few minutes, and not on tele gear (chosen today for its lighter weight). Then skied the middle Flett from below headwall to Cateye Lake. This sucked. Many embedded rock bombs. Medium sized cups still pretty hard at this hour tossed me all over on every turn. Yech. The only saving grace was that there was still a ribbon of snow extending past Cateye Lake down to a dismount point just at what might be considered the upper edge of Spray Park.
Aside: Cateye Lake has suffered some kind of indignation and is now mocha brown. As far as I can tell, there was a bunch of brown mud that had formed up between layers of the semipermanent snow and was generating mini-lahars that were staining the lake. Maybe this is eventually going to settle, but last year at this time it was definitely its expected pretty green. Is this 'brownout' a regular event or a new turn in the life of Cateye Lake? The other terminal lake on E lobe would now make a fine locale for Sun of Slush Cup, featuring a sloping-in but clear entry to a 10-foot deep-water crossing and then a floating iceberg where you'd end up (!) I umm didn't try this personally.
Saw at least three other ski or board parties as I descended (and before heading back on Knapsack where I saw a surprising number of parties, but no more skiers) and tried to clue them all in that the Russell was the place to be that day. How long these conditions might remain past yesterday is anybody's guess.
A great trip that next time I must plan more time for, maybe even a weekender.
« Last Edit: 08/24/05, 09:30 PM by wolfs » Logged
Charles
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Re: August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers
« Reply #1 on: 08/09/04, 09:17 AM »

Hey wolfs, thanks for the report. I was wondering what things would be like there now. Too bad there is not a shorter approach to the Russell. I noticed that Cat-Eye Lake was not its usual color a month ago, but though that the silt would have settled out by now. I don't recall ever having seen the lake like that - it sounds like some drainage pattern has changed.

So did you make it back to the trailhead by 1?
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wolfs
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Re: August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers
« Reply #2 on: 08/09/04, 05:22 PM »

To car by 1:10 (close enough).
« Last Edit: 08/24/05, 09:31 PM by wolfs » Logged
snoslut
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Re: August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers
« Reply #3 on: 08/10/04, 03:03 AM »

So that was you we bumped into on our way up.  We were the party with boarder and 2 skiers with rando set up.  We never did make it to the Russell but from your picture it made me wish I did.  By the time we reached the highest point or snow under Oberservation Rock (7950ft.) it was around 2 or 3 in the afternoon.  Run down to Cateye lake was soft and carvable.  Suncups were present but not as bad as I had anticipated.  Only if we had more time the Flett headwall looked really inviting.  Real steep with small cornice along majority of the top and little exposer skiers left 3/4 of the way down.  One trip for camping.  Maybe next time.

wolfs btw what's your guess on how much carvable vert is on the Russell?
« Last Edit: 08/10/04, 03:06 AM by boarddude » Logged

You will know when Americas in trouble when the Mexicans stop coming...Carlos Mencia
philfort
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Re: August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers
« Reply #4 on: 08/10/04, 04:19 AM »

Here is the lake in October 2000:
http://www.mtnphil.com/ORock/ToiletBowl.JPG

Looks pretty brown.
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ron j
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Re: August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers
« Reply #5 on: 08/10/04, 04:33 AM »

Interesting.
Here it is in August of 2000:
http://groups.msn.com/_Secure/0ZAAwA44fD0u5kORQhDjAaCYkUsKVVD6sEpHkdjhtNvrRoW4uDo*juEWeCcRq2iEAMJL0XLKQ4uy5BLXiou*fQZfNi9SeIzN1Q8SK*xsBtsdAJlOj!g6Wb0QChD3VPx*0dE6JK0yBUJlopojiucm8xg/Hig%20Speed%20Quads%20operatingJm.jpg?dc=4675325792182254470
Don't ask me; I haven't got a clue  Smiley
BTW, great TR, Wolfs, lots of good info.
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"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
wolfs
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Re: August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers
« Reply #6 on: 08/10/04, 07:29 AM »

Interesting. Just based on pix I've seen and personal experience it appears that the lake has alternated from brown to green to brown at least twice since 2000. Meee-yow!
Snoslut: there would be a ton of carvable vert on the Russell. Other reports indicate that a typical high point before the bombing range is a knob on Ptarmigan Ridge at 9200; it's a little hard to see but that knob appears in my photo just a little R of dead center, and would have been where I'd gone w more time (note: other recent Russell TR pix show this knob a little better). Then, if you're willing to climb back up to 7400 notch, round Echo Rock along bottom, or totally freelance thru Seattle Park, you could go all the way to the Russell terminus approx 6700, there's still OK snow almost all the way.
Good to know that my Flett-sucked assessment was partially based on the hour of the day. I had suspected that at a more typical descent time like 3PM+ on such a hot day the snowcups would not be nearly such a bother. Esp. for knuckledraggin'
Your party looked to be enjoying the skeets about as much as I was - if you stopped for ANY reason, like idle chitchat etc. below the snowline, they were in for the kill. My daughter got a bunch of bites at Eunice despite DEET on clothes, we felt kinda bad for her, little kids really show proportionately big welts from those bites and are hard to dissuade from scratching and making them worse.
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snoslut
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Re: August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers
« Reply #7 on: 08/10/04, 07:59 AM »

Thanks for the info.  Next time, maybe next weekend, I will spend a day or two up there.

Damn mosquitos Angry
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You will know when Americas in trouble when the Mexicans stop coming...Carlos Mencia
Jeff Huber
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Posts: 771


Re: August 8, 2004, Russell and Flett Glaciers
« Reply #8 on: 08/10/04, 09:01 AM »

The Russell looks pretty scrumptious. How long does it take to get to where you start skinning from the parking lot?
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