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| | |-+  May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
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Author Topic: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse  (Read 6401 times)
ebeam
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May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« on: 05/20/11, 05:45 PM »

Scott, Chuck, Forest, and I decided to try the Watson Traverse which starts on the west side of Mount Baker and ends at the ski area well to the east.

After the car shuffle, we started at 5am several miles below the Heliotrope Trailhead on the Glacier Creek Road. You can drive about a half mile more up the road than last week, but while the snow is enough to stop most cars it is spotty for skinning for about a half mile further up the road. After a few more days of warm weather, access will be better.

Our climb via Grouse drainage to Marmot Ridge and then over to the normal Colman-Deming route went pretty quickly (under 8hrs to the summit). After hanging out on the summit for an hour (waiting for snow softening), we scouted the three main options for starting the descent part of the traverse.

The Park Glacier headwall was not really ever an option (too puckery for us) but it was still fun to look down. Two skiers ahead of us had taken the Cockscomb route then dropped onto the Park Glacier near where the bergschrund and ridge intersect. We could see their beautiful tacks leading to two specks far below near the West Portal. Obviously that route was tracked, so we took the untracked Boulder Glacier and wrapped around northeast to the Park Glacier meeting their route a few thousand feet below. Getting over to the Park Glacier from the Boulder Glacier was an interesting crevasse/icefall puzzle with stunning scenery. Once on the Park Glacier the skiing seemed to go on and on. The snow was “spring variable” – all of it in the fun category.

This was an enjoyable trip, but it is a long day. Overall, it was slightly over 10,000 feet of climbing and took us 13.5 hrs, car to car. And, contrary to our hope from reading Lowell’s interesting and well documented account of the route (http://www.alpenglow.org/skiing/baker-2004/index.html), we had to skin five different times after the main run down the Park Glacier. Snow and terrain conditions vary so that might have been part of it, but the extra nearly 2,000 feet of climbing certainly added to our fatigue factor. It took us about 4.5 hrs from the summit to our car at the ski area. My tank was on empty.

Thanks Scott for sending me a few pictures of the trip.


* UpperBoulderGl.jpg (76.78 KB, 640x480 - viewed 1463 times.)

* WatsonTracks.jpg (53.57 KB, 640x447 - viewed 1483 times.)

* Near_WPortal.jpg (63.64 KB, 480x535 - viewed 1461 times.)
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #1 on: 05/20/11, 07:28 PM »

Beautiful!

The traverse is popular this year!

(The no-skin route from summit to ski area requires some aggressive contouring that's probably not practical in all conditions.)
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T. Eastman
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #2 on: 05/20/11, 10:22 PM »

Looked like fun, Barnett and I saw your tracks down the Park from Barometer yesterday.
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cumulus
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #3 on: 05/20/11, 10:51 PM »

nice!

I was just looking through my pics from yesterday on Shuksan and realized by reading this report that these are your tracks...



* 110519_Shuksan_11.jpg (249.56 KB, 600x799 - viewed 1285 times.)
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Stefan
ebeam
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #4 on: 05/21/11, 08:57 AM »

nice!

I was just looking through my pics from yesterday on Shuksan and realized by reading this report that these are your tracks...



Thanks for the picture.
It looked like people were busy up on Shuksan ... saw some nice tracks on the Hanging Gl when we got to our car. Nice couple of day for getting out.
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therunningdog
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #5 on: 05/21/11, 02:18 PM »

Great effort and pics guys!  This trip is high on my list.   Gotta love those unexpected 10k days!
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GGrove
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #6 on: 05/21/11, 04:19 PM »

Thanks for the report, we found the exact same conditions yesterday on the Watson Traverse and it took about the same time.  We had really hoped to ski the headwall proper but after looking at it form the top it was pretty much overhanging and looked like crusty, punchy powder.  After skiing the first 1000 feet and looking up you could see an entrance on skiers right and we found out that the snow wasn't too bad.  Wish we hadn't wimped out on that, but otherwise a fantastic and classic day of skiing. That traverse out Ptarmigan Ridge was a mental blow though after expecting to be able to do it in one long glide...Lowell and Louie lead us astray on that one Smiley


* 20110520_WatsonTraverse_135.jpg (142.87 KB, 800x532 - viewed 1048 times.)

* 20110520_WatsonTraverse_347.jpg (201.18 KB, 800x532 - viewed 1028 times.)

* 20110520_WatsonTraverse_027.jpg (192.28 KB, 800x532 - viewed 1026 times.)
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jjnorm
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #7 on: 05/30/11, 04:48 PM »

Thanks for the report, we found the exact same conditions yesterday on the Watson Traverse and it took about the same time.  We had really hoped to ski the headwall proper but after looking at it form the top it was pretty much overhanging and looked like crusty, punchy powder.  After skiing the first 1000 feet and looking up you could see an entrance on skiers right and we found out that the snow wasn't too bad.  Wish we hadn't wimped out on that, but otherwise a fantastic and classic day of skiing. That traverse out Ptarmigan Ridge was a mental blow though after expecting to be able to do it in one long glide...Lowell and Louie lead us astray on that one Smiley


Great photo GGrove, how did you get the sun to look like that?!
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GGrove
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #8 on: 05/30/11, 09:41 PM »

Thanks, it is done by closing the aperture ring so it constricts the suns light, usually shot between f/11 and 16.
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kevino
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #9 on: 05/31/11, 12:26 AM »

Great pictures Garrett. Just curiuos, the person with the quardrants, is he skiing on moment skis? curious what model if so...
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GGrove
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #10 on: 05/31/11, 09:49 AM »

Great pictures Garrett. Just curiuos, the person with the quardrants, is he skiing on moment skis? curious what model if so...

Yup you got it.  He is on the Moment Night Trains.  I also skied those this winter and really enjoyed them.  Moment has not branded themselves as a backcountry AT ski company but they are all I use with Dynafits because they ski very well and are light for their sizes.
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kevino
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Re: May 19, 2011 Mount Baker - Watson Traverse
« Reply #11 on: 05/31/11, 07:40 PM »

Right on. I too have the night trains (the old lightening bolts and wolf head ones) but only as resort skis.  I had thought about using the tahoes or belafontes as a touring skin with dynafits.

Thanks for the feedback.
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