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| | |-+  Mt Washington, Oregon, 5/19/2012
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Author Topic: Mt Washington, Oregon, 5/19/2012  (Read 2190 times)

Posts: 242

Mt Washington, Oregon, 5/19/2012
« on: 05/20/12, 02:15 PM »

What started out as a 2 day ski tour turned out to be a one day adventure but was not lacking and left me wanting more. Mt Washington has been on my bucket list for a while, and with a fresh hall pass and a (closing) weather window I recruited my usual suspect Ron. Our original plan was to set up camp Saturday and ski both days... the idea of a circumnav on Sunday was on the table.

One of the highlights of this trip was meeting up with 2 other groups of ski mountaineers and enjoying great company all around. A group of ~6 from Corvallis we met on the summit ridge and a group of 4 from Bend and Portland.

Car camped Friday night under clear starry skies. We geared up the next morning and drove down to Big Lake where we started our hike from there, even though FR960 to the Hidden Valley (cabins?) was plowed its muddy, boggy appearance was not inviting for driving. The snowpack was patchy then continuous above ~5000k. Our route was a direct approach to the NW ridge but midway we switched bearings for a small unnamed lake in hopes of a water source so we would not have to melt dirty snow with precious stove fuel. The lake is still frozen over but we were indeed able to poke a hole in a few places for water. We set camp here, reassembled our packs for climbing and set off again for the ridge.

A thing to note for me is this is my first time hiking through a complete burn area that has not began to recover. Everything was black and dead, except the bunches of beargrass which were singed off appearing like they were sheared but the cores of the plant actually green. Aside from that it was pure black soil, charcoal dead trees... it was like some forest version of a mad max scene.

Once on the ridge proper (~6300) the ridge route eventually becomes a boot-pack to negotiate, I was glad for my boot crampons in places where it was a steeper pitch and the snow was firmer.

We departed the company of the Bend group about 7K and continued boot-packing up higher to a steep traverse below a cliff band to the saddle just below the summit pinnacle where we met company with the Corvallis group. This was the high point objective of the trip, above is access to the summit climbers route, the east side is an inviting entrance to a steep chute for another day.

Our objective is the northwest aspect, an appealing 1000' vertical descent in a wide open bowl.

The skiing here was amazing, albeit a bit icy at the very top but quickly opening up to a smooth layer corn snow. Plenty of room to spread out and ski a fresh line arcing as wide of turns as desired. The run was quickly consumed. We transitioned to skins and started up again for another run traversing back over to the ridge and then boot-packed up to ~7K. The weather was moving in though, the window of "mostly sunny" weekend weather was closing and the wind picking up on the west aspect made climbing on skins dicey in places. Back on the ridge at the ~7K mark we found an entrance through the cornice and transitioned back to ski mode for a descent into the NE aspect for an 800' vertical run yielding great turns sheltered from the wind. Skiers left, this aspect had suffered a huge avalanche, my guess the hot weekend prior. A large crown still visible and a thick/deep and rugged debris field at the toe it was quite humbling to see this up close. From here we set a waypoint to basecamp and were able to enjoy some easy skiing through the forest for most of the way making quick time. We cooked up a jetboil dinner to re-fuel and broke camp. Disappointed in the deteriorating weather but it was obvious it was not going to yield more ski options the next day. It made for a long day but worth it this morning to wake in my own bed to the sound of rain knowing I had the day to relax and properly take care of my gear.

Overall, I look forward to a return to possibly ski the steeper chute and a ski circumnavigation of the mountain would be really fun. The mountain is big enough to yield a few ski objectives yet small enough to do as a day tour. 


lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2

Posts: 288

Re: Mt Washington, Oregon, 5/19/2012
« Reply #1 on: 05/20/12, 04:44 PM »

Sounds like you guys hit it just right, Wayne, good to climb with you up there for a bit.

Posts: 479

Re: Mt Washington, Oregon, 5/19/2012
« Reply #2 on: 05/20/12, 05:22 PM »

Sweet, looks like a fun time!  A few friends and I made several laps on Hoodoo after work Friday night before cooking some burgers in the parking lot.  Still lots of snow up there.  Too bad the weather is going south next week.  Thanks for the report....

There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty." - Theodore Roosevelt

Posts: 95

Re: Mt Washington, Oregon, 5/19/2012
« Reply #3 on: 05/21/12, 07:40 AM »

Good trip Koda.  After putting in 12 hours on skis, and another 3 driving, this old man was tired yesterday.  Just a couple adds:  I took a short tour across the west ridge to see the views to the south, and skied a short line on the SW aspect, and it was very similar to the NW aspect we skied with the other 2 groups.  The view south to belknap and three sisters was worth it, as well as the extra turns, but I paid the price by doubling my nasty traverse of that NW bowl.  Also, Ray Benson snow park has the best facilities i have ever seen at a snow park.  A log day lodge with lights and stocked wood stove, and best of all a heated and lighted toilet.  Only lacking thing was a fridge stocked with beer!

Posts: 14

Re: Mt Washington, Oregon, 5/19/2012
« Reply #4 on: 05/21/12, 10:10 AM »

Thanks for the trip report. I hope to get up there in the next couple of weekends.

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