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| | |-+  June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
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Author Topic: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation  (Read 5005 times)
Eckels
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June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« on: 06/23/12, 01:53 PM »

I walked into my first day of work tuesday morning to find out that they didn't need me for another week. As soon as I got home I checked the forecast, to discover the next two days were forecasted to be bluebird. What luck! None of my usual partners were free so I started messaging folks here on TAY and calling friends I hadn't toured with before. By 6 pm Louie from WWU and Stefan from TAY were game to meet at the pass that evening. I was stoked!

We dropped off a car on the road to lake Lillian and shuttled back to the PCT trailhead. I had originally wanted to make it to the catwalk that night but it was already getting dark and we decided to wait till sunrise to start.




The snow in the commonwealth was continuous enough to skin just before the creek crossing towards red; sooner than expected. At the catwalk (with is melted out entirely minus a short exposed traverse at the very end) we left behind the familiarity of the pass and entered the world of sun and mountains.







Our plan for the day was to more or less follow the PCT to Chikiman then ski its NE bowl to Chikiman lake. What we actually did was quite different. The first ski of the day was kind of grabby snow, the second ski was really grabby and slow. All of our descents were going to be a similar aspect, it was only getting warmer and we weren't very optimistic about the rest of the skiing for the day. Stefan had been in the area a lot this season and new of a rad north facing line right near us. We checked it out and it was most definitely rad, but would put us at the bottom of the burntboot creek valley which did not appear to have much snow. We checked the map, and it turned out that skiing the line, then going up the valley to chikiman lake would be the same amount of vert as our original plan. To ski an awesome 3000 foot descent with presumably good snow and face likely bushwhacking, or stay high and do several short descents with sticky snow, and no bushwhacking. We were all in the mood for adventure and chose the former. Adventure is what we got.






The Chute

The line started with a steep ramp into an open bowl, which then funneled into the chute pictured above. The snow, to our delight, was smooth, soft on top, and fast, great for steep skiing. The chute had a big runnel, which made for some interesting turns, but it was awesome being in such an aesthetic line. We made quick work of it to avoid potential rockfall, and were soon enjoying wide open corn turns.

 
Further down the line narrowed again and dead ended in a waterfall. We were not very keen on climbing back up due to the rockfall hazard and extra vert, so Louie scrambled into onto the ridge next to the snow and scoped out a good way around the waterfall.





The way round was an exposed brush traverse, but footing and hand holds were plentiful, and it wasn't long before we were back on snow. We went down as far as we could, putting us a couple hundred feet above the valley floor. After a break we set out to discover how high of a price we had to pay for our line. It wasn't bad at first, as we traversed through the forest with only waist high brush for the most part.



That didn't last. We reached the first slide path and were treated to huge slide alder, devils club, and some other prickly brush, with no open path through. There were several points were all one could do was power through the thickness and accept the slaps and scratches. I never took my camera out during the worst of it, and the two pictures I do have i would consider moderate to easy parts.



After 2 hours of battle we decided to take a break. Stefan and Louie refreshed themselves at the river while I napped in the first good place I could find. We didn't get going again for an hour, and then endured one more hour of battle to reach snow. It turns out we had only covered a mile and a half in that time. 


Louie stoked to be back on snow

We reached Avalanche Lake at 7 and spent some time looking for the best way through the steep forest to gain the bowl that would take us to Chikiman lake. After our experience we were doubtful that any way would be easy and ended up choosing to just spend the night there. Cous Cous have never tasted so good.

We got up shortly after sunrise and were on skis again by 6. It turned out that what we all expected to be steep snow and brush climbing, was just snow with great booting conditions. We were elated to be back on skins, and assured that the rest of the day would be bushwhack free.







The bushwhack had put us behind schedule but we wanted to summit at least one peak along the way. Chikiman seemed the most fitting as it is the head of the Gold Creek valley.

I was disappointed that the snow on Chikiman ended about thirty vertical feet short of the summit, but the scramble to the top was very enjoyable. From the summit we looked at where we had come from, and I pointed out our route for the rest of the day. It was noon by then and the end looked very far away. We didn't hang out long.







We skied the SE side down to Glacier lake on somewhat sticky, but consistent corn, making wide fast turns, through the beautiful open terrain.





From there we had three more climbs and descents to get to the car, all through terrain I had hiked in the summer. The highlight for me was gliding through mellow terrain beneath Alta mountain, on our way to the rampart lakes, soaking in the views, and reflecting on how great the last two days had been.









Beneath Laura lake the snow became quite thin and I was worried we might have to finish the trip with another bushwhack. Fortunately we found the trail within seconds of taking our skis off, and made it back to the car as the sun began to set.

The night before stefan had told us that he forgot his keys in Louie's car, but it was okay because he could get into, and hot-wire his car (a sick volvo from the 70's). At first the car only sputtered and I was worried that we were in for an epic, but within ten minutes Stefan had it running and we were on our way.

The tour was everything I had hoped for and more! Stefan and Louie were awesome partners, The weather was perfect, and best of all we had a great adventure. I was sad I couldn't share the trip with my main partners, but the fact that everything worked so well with two people I had never skied with before reinforced my amazement at how awesome the skiing community really is.
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Zap
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Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #1 on: 06/23/12, 02:25 PM »

A great trip with some great terrain.  Wink
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Libteched
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Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #2 on: 06/23/12, 08:17 PM »

This rules!
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Split the board.
mikerolfs
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WWW
Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #3 on: 06/23/12, 08:29 PM »

Fun TR to read.  Thanks for posting!
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Ldawson
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WWW
Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #4 on: 06/23/12, 09:08 PM »

Yeah! fun trip! Good skiing with you guys. Typing is hard with all these thorns in my fingertips  Smiley
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Splitter
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Posts: 199


Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #5 on: 06/23/12, 09:20 PM »

Adventure skiing with some added adventure.  Very nice!
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Atraslin
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Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #6 on: 06/23/12, 09:34 PM »

Bushwacking free climbing. Snow looked good high.
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jacoblmandell
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Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #7 on: 06/24/12, 01:16 AM »

sounds like a great trip!
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Jason_H.
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WWW
Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #8 on: 06/24/12, 09:04 AM »

Nice adventure. Gold creek is fun times! Nice lines out there though. Great pics and words!
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Charlie Hagedorn
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WWW
Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #9 on: 06/24/12, 09:44 AM »

Awesome!
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r1de
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Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #10 on: 06/24/12, 07:48 PM »

Awesome report and great photos - thanks for putting the TR together.
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--
-bp
ryanl
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Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #11 on: 06/25/12, 09:27 AM »

Great trip y'all. Nice to see you in this neck of the woods Louie!
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cumulus
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Re: June 20-21, 2012, Gold Creek Circumnavigation
« Reply #12 on: 06/26/12, 09:04 AM »

memorable trip - what a great route! what great company! Snoqualmie Pickets indeed... definitely a solstice well spent. Still amazed we pulled it off so smoothly, spur of the moment as it was. This trip covered a lot of ground in two days. wow!  beautiful country, so much left to ski out there...

Mount Thomson's north couloir would not have been possible without an earlier exploratory excursion with Rob--it was a shared obsession (would it go?). Wish he could have been there. We'll have to go back and ski it proper in powder...

Here's some more pics, hard to choose, so many great moments, so many mountains -



catwalk June 20 2012



tea time in the Thomson saddle.  skied into the N. couloir from the top of the point



Andrew coming off the top



Louie checking the line



opening



looking down to Burntboot



ha! these people are smiling!?  oh right-there's no thorns



Avalanche Lake and Iceberg falls


DAY 2:


oasis and Overcoat



north Chikamin route



topping out



awesome headwear and view down the Middle Fork Snoqualmie from Chikamin summit



leisure hour interrupting view from Chikamin that made us realize we'd better get going--that's a long ways off!  (pink arrow is our alpine exit point, top of our last skin up)



SE Chikamin Louie and Rainier



heavy sluff



Glacier Lake




view back to Thomson from Rampart Ridge.  top of the last skin of the day - all downhill from here, yes!


We had no expectations from here but found some great passages--the run down to Lake Lillian was exceptionally fun, topping off a fantastic trip!


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Stefan
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