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| | |-+  May 10, 2011, Mt. Pugh, Ski descent from summit
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Author Topic: May 10, 2011, Mt. Pugh, Ski descent from summit  (Read 2750 times)
andybrnr
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May 10, 2011, Mt. Pugh, Ski descent from summit
« on: 05/11/11, 01:01 PM »

The Tuesday weather window beckoned, and a partners wanted post turned up TBill (Trevor), cumulus (Stefan), and snoholic (Zach) ready to get after it. I'd originally planned to head for the Cascade River Road and Sahale, but Trevor's pics of the NW face of Mt. Pugh looked enticing. We assembled at the 65th and I-5 park and ride at 3:00AM in Seattle, and two hours later were gearing up at the gated road to the Mt. Pugh trailhead.

1.5 miles of road hiking to the trailhead, followed by two miles of trail brought us to lake Metan, but significant snow melt since Trevor's ski last Wednesday of the Straight Glacier meant about 400 ft of booting through partial snow cover to continuous coverage and skinning. We made good time, arriving just below Stujack pass at roughly 8:45. Ski crampons helped out with the unpleasant breakable crust, and by a bit after 9:30 we had gained the pass. Transitioning to the ridge required a short, steep boot where an ice axe and whippet came in handy, and a return to skinning brought us to the ridge line overlooking the aptly named Straight Glacier.

Low cloud had kept us relatively well shaded on the ascent to this point, but the gradual breakup of the deck left the east-facing arm in full sun. We had discussed the NWAC special statement issued Monday, and found the expected instability present on the slope of the ridge, where ~6" of sloppy snow from the past few days displayed a remarkable ability to form pinwheels, where the smallest bits of falling cornice rapidly rolled into 6' or greater diameter spirals which then broke apart, sluffing segments of the slope to the glacier below. We agreed that it should be safe to proceed atop the ridge to the saddle above the head of the Straight to assess the transition to the NW face, with Trevor and I setting out while Zach and Stefan hung back for a bit. I waited just before the saddle while Trevor gauged the transition to the NW face. Finding it stable, he proceeded up the face while I waited for Zach and Stefan.

Once Zach and Stefan joined me at the saddle, Trevor had reached the ramp leading to the upper reaches of the face. In order to avoid any instabilities triggered by Trevor and remain in a safe position to assist in case something moved during his descent, we held near the saddle and waited for Trevor to transition and try out the line from below the final summit ridge. Taking the fall line down the main face, he descended in fine style, exiting onto the Straight. He reported the snow to be firm, and after a quick, yelled conference, he agreed to skin back up to the saddle, where we all would proceed to the summit.

Since Trevor had already established the bootback, we moved quickly up, knowing it was a race to get up and down before the shifting sun rendered the aspect unstable. The route to the summit was not immediately clear, as the final ridge transitioning from the upper face to the summit had a number of large cornices, and the obvious snow ramp across a rimed outcrop was around 50 degrees. Stefan checked to see if there was a route around the corner while Zach followed me up the ramp, which held an axe well and supported good kicked steps. From the top of the ramp, we found the summit 50 yds distant and 75 ft of vert put us atop, looking out at a sea of cloud with the high peaks of the Cascades poking out above, with Baker, Glacier, and Rainier all clearly visible. Trevor and Stefan quickly joined us, and after the requisite photos we transitioned and discussed the descent. Rather than take Trevor's original line, we elected to follow our somewhat less cornice threatened ascent route. Trevor cruised a stretch of the Straight while the rest of us traversed back on the now shaded and somewhat stabilized west ridge.

After regrouping, we cruised back down to Stujack, then on down to the treeline through heavy slop to an accompaniment of progressively more frequent rockfall and natural releases from the steep cliff bands. A quick slide through a mixture of sloppy and crusty snow in the woods brought us back to just above the lake, where we booted down and switched back into our sneakers with a beautiful view of Mt. Pugh's SSW aspect rising above lake Metan. The trail down went quickly, with our focus shifted to hamburgers and milkshakes in Arlington, and we were back at the car by 7:30. Hamburgers and shakes in Arlington were satisfying, and we returned to the Park and Ride and went our separate ways around 10:00, 19 hours after setting out. Great day out with a great group, total of ~11 miles (12ish for Trevor) and ~6k vert (7k for Trevor).

Route pics from google earth, other pics to follow


* Pugh_route_overview.jpg (189.09 KB, 1000x656 - viewed 1388 times.)

* Pugh_upper_mountain.jpg (231.25 KB, 1000x560 - viewed 1403 times.)
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alecapone
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Posts: 763


Re: May 10, 2011, Mt. Pugh, Ski descent from summit
« Reply #1 on: 05/11/11, 01:27 PM »

Awesome fellas!!!

I don't know what hurts worse right now.. my ankles, or sitting and waiting while everyone is getting rad.

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scott
Snow Bell
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Posts: 509


Re: May 10, 2011, Mt. Pugh, Ski descent from summit
« Reply #2 on: 05/11/11, 03:11 PM »

I wanna get rad.


Good write up, thanks.

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Life is going to slide by you one way or another
Jason_H.
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Posts: 777


WWW
Re: May 10, 2011, Mt. Pugh, Ski descent from summit
« Reply #3 on: 05/11/11, 05:43 PM »

Awesome. I was turned away twice on the glacier trying to do that because of Avi and lack of snow. Nice peak. Thanks for the TR.
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cumulus
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Posts: 253


Re: May 10, 2011, Mt. Pugh, Ski descent from summit
« Reply #4 on: 05/12/11, 12:14 PM »

sorry to hear about yr ankles Scott, healing godspeed and all!

Given pleasant weather Mt. Pugh is always a joy. Once at Stujack and above no matter what direction you look, the views are stunning. A fun and varied trip. Good company. A lot of sun. I've never eaten that much snow; a definite rhythm developed on the way up:  kick step, place ice axe, dip mouth in snow, repeat.   Here's some pics -


below Stujack



ridge to Pugh



ridge and Sloan



turns off the top



looking back



there's a vid too, involving the plasticity of snow, that I'll add when I get to it -

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Stefan
andybrnr
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Posts: 90


Re: May 10, 2011, Mt. Pugh, Ski descent from summit
« Reply #5 on: 05/12/11, 12:54 PM »

Sweet pics, Stefan, love the silhouette shot below Stujack.
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cumulus
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Posts: 253


Re: May 10, 2011, Mt. Pugh, Ski descent from summit
« Reply #6 on: 05/14/11, 11:12 AM »

Thanks Andy!  and thanks for the great write up


Here's a link to the vid

and some more pics over at nwhikers
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Stefan
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