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Author Topic: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker  (Read 10044 times)
ryanl
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July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« on: 07/08/11, 01:31 AM »

Last Friday Gregg and I skied Baker and Shuksan in a single 26 hour push. On Wednesday I fell asleep waiting for a light to turn green on Aurora.

The before shot (and yes, Gregg's that tall and I'm that short):



The trip actually began three weeks ago when a group of us started up the Squak at midnight. (http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=21367.0) This time, despite our efforts to entice others, Gregg and I found ourselves alone at the Heliotrope trailhead with a purified plan. Leave at 3 pm, climb the C-D, ski the Park, sleep an hour or two at Lasiocarpa ridge, climb the Fisher Chimneys, ski the Sulphide. We opted not to shuttle vehicles, partly out of laziness, partly out respect for the improbability of us actually getting to where we intended.

As always, the skin up Baker took my breath away on more than one occasion. The late afternoon sky blanketed my nerves in calm. Sun shone and clouds drifted as Gregg and I skinned upwards. We took breaks when we needed, talked when we wanted, and zoned out in our respective appreciation for the joy of skinning.








photo by Gregg

We skinned to the summit (with ski crampons) in 5 1/2 hours.  We weren't trying to go fast but I think we each were a bit nervous about skiing the Park at sundown. By the time we ripped our skins the wind had picked up and a light cloud had enveloped us. I'd been hoping for a few inches of fresh after the previous day's snowfall, but conditions were flat out firm. We skied the ridge climbers left of the Park Headwall and dropped into the Park when our sphincters relaxed enough to allow us to do so.




photo by Gregg

The slopes above the massive bergschrund got our attention but below that the Park skied great. For me. Poor Gregg had Dynafit Guides and couldn't stay on top of the crust. My K2 Backsides were money. I felt bad watching him tack downwards. If anybody wants to skin up the Park there's a nice track in place.

As we descended into darkness I let my eyes wander to Shuksan in the distance,



before settling into beautiful starlit skinning



With the route fresh in our minds we made it to Lasiocarpa ridge by 11.  It was a nice place to melt water, cook food and take a breather. We managed about an hour sleep before setting off again.


photo by Gregg

The stretch from Lasiocarpa to the base of the Fisher Chimneys proved challenging. Frozen suncups, steep sidehilling, sopping wet useless skins, and massive avy debris had me out of rythym, Plus, I realized below Lake Anne that I woefully underpacked on food. Whoops. Luckily Gregg brought enough extra to carry me. Including a container of margarine. Yum.

For the rest of the trip I couldn't stop looking back at from where we came. It never ceases to amaze me how much ground one can cover on skis, and how absorbing such travel can be. In a way, time stands still. Or simply doesn't matter.  I remember reading Lowell's "Flight of the Ptarmigan" many years ago, and his expressing that skiing across a landscape can affect one's perception of it.  The further we traveled the more absorbed I became in my immediate surroundings all the while my sense of what was immediate continued to grow.

Seeing Baker at sunrise brought new energy for the climb ahead


photo by Gregg

Neither Gregg nor I had ever climbed the Fisher Chimneys before, and in retrospect it might have been more efficient to ascend the White Salmon. But what fun would that have been? We'd have missed out on some more steep side hilling, fun scrambling, and steep snow.











Cresting onto the White Salmon at hour 19 was spectacular:




Gregg catching a Z in the minutes it took me to catch him:



The skin up Winnies slide and Hell's Highway offered enjoyable mindless continuity compared to the thought provoking scramble up the Chimneys. We each found our groove again and were excited to finally see the summit pyramid within reach:



At first glance I thought I'd ski from the summit. But by the time we got to the pyramid's base an AAI group of 8 had entrenched themselves on the face. Conditions were extremely soft by this time and neither Gregg nor I felt like cutting wet slides onto a group of aspiring climbers. They seemed to have their hands full as it was. I'd be lying if I said a part of me regrets not having skied from the summit. I'd also be lying if I said I gave a damn at the time. As it was, Gregg and I ditched our packs and made quick work of our last climb.







Before we had begun climbing the pyramid we ran into a party of two who had just finished and were heading down. Gregg immediately asked where they were from. Bellingham. Dayum. Too easy. Whatever thoughts Gregg and I might have had about skiing the White Salmon quickly evaporated in the presence of such low hanging fruit. We made fast work of the Sulphide so as not to keep our ride waiting. With a slight "detour" (read, overshooting of the trail followed by 40 minutes of schwacking to find said trail) we made it to the car at 5 pm. Thanks Annie and Steve for the ride! (And Mike for the ride back to my truck!)


The after shots:





If folks aren't opposed, Gregg and I would like to call this extension of the Watson Traverse "The Monika Traverse", in honor of a woman we each loved in our own ways. As Gregg said in an email,

"Great skiing, spectacular scenery, rock climbing, steep snow climbing and two of the iconic summit peaks of the North Cascades.  Perfect way to honor her."

R.I.P Beautiful- you would have loved this one......


« Last Edit: 07/08/11, 07:22 AM by ryanl » Logged
sadoalpinist
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #1 on: 07/08/11, 01:47 AM »

Wow, nice work!  Sounds like a great (but burly) trip!
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peteyboy
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #2 on: 07/08/11, 02:52 AM »

You whack jobs rule.  Monika is grinning ear to ear.
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Pete Alderson
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #3 on: 07/08/11, 06:48 AM »

holy cow guys... thats amazing.  congrats!
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Marcus
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #4 on: 07/08/11, 07:03 AM »

Killer work guys, great TR.  That first picture looks like American Gothic.
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Donski
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #5 on: 07/08/11, 07:29 AM »

This is an example of superb cardiovascular stamina!  Congrats!!
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tabski
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #6 on: 07/08/11, 07:33 AM »

Gregg and Ryan, congratulations. Seriously amazing accomplishment. Not many trip reports make a person misty eyed, but this one did it to me...

The Monika Traverse!!
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kath
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #7 on: 07/08/11, 07:45 AM »

WOW! speechless ... tremendous effort ..
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cumulus
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #8 on: 07/08/11, 08:28 AM »

wow! fantastic! Congratulations to you both. Very inspiring.

great write up too.  love that line -

my sense of what was immediate continued to grow.


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Stefan
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #9 on: 07/08/11, 08:30 AM »

Great TR and images.  My old body is tired reading the long adventure.  The before and after photos are wonderful.  Your comment about falling asleep at a traffic light brings back memories of past adventures.   Wink
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ron j
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #10 on: 07/08/11, 08:48 AM »

Wow.
Awesome trip, guys.
Think I'll go take a nap now  Roll Eyes
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"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
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alecapone
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #11 on: 07/08/11, 09:51 AM »

Bravo!!!

Your a classy guy Ryan. Thanks for the great write up!
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scott
Jim Oker
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #12 on: 07/08/11, 10:04 AM »

Wow.

Falling asleep at a stoplight - better than on the highway! Sort of reminds me of my own experience of being honked at while waiting for a four way stop sign to turn green the morning after a much more mundane tour (Snowking) some years back.
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Jason_H.
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #13 on: 07/08/11, 10:12 AM »

Right on Ryan. Cool trip for sure.
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Mofro
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #14 on: 07/08/11, 10:17 AM »

Well done fellas, an awesome if somewhat grueling trip!


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not always bad
DonnellyM
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #15 on: 07/08/11, 10:35 AM »

I'd have to say this is one of the more praise worthy trip reports I've seen!  Awe-inspiring!! I don't think my old crepid body during its prime could have pulled off such a feat! 
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daveb
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #16 on: 07/08/11, 10:47 AM »

You guys ROCK!  So psyched you pulled it off!  I like the implication in the title -  isn’t Baker the standard approach for Shuksan?
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Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #17 on: 07/08/11, 11:31 AM »

wish i had gone with you.  love it.
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Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
gregL
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #18 on: 07/08/11, 11:47 AM »

Beautiful trip, and well told, Ryan! Thanks for the report.
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lrudholm
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #19 on: 07/08/11, 01:39 PM »

Wow you guys are monsters.

Are we sure Greg Hill didn't clone himself twice and have two really good costumes?
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Leyland
runningclouds
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #20 on: 07/08/11, 02:36 PM »

Beautiful line!
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hedonaut
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #21 on: 07/08/11, 05:35 PM »

well done and downright honorific, Gregg and Ryan.  and as always, well-written Ryan.  stoked for the new traverse, and for you guys.
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jesski
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #22 on: 07/08/11, 05:42 PM »

What a beautiful way to honor Monika, and what a herculean effort!
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bringing the fun since 1984
cbcbd
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #23 on: 07/08/11, 06:16 PM »

Superb and magnificent! All heart.
Perfect Ryan! Smiley
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Don_B
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Re: July 2, 2011, Mt Shuksan via Mt Baker
« Reply #24 on: 07/08/11, 08:34 PM »

Beautiful trip, trip report, and attitudes. Great stamina. I've never been as tired in my life as after a Shuksan climb via Fisher Chimneys and that was without Baker. Fred Becky calls that "an interesting and tortuous route". Thanks for sharing some true BC touring.
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