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Author Topic: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012  (Read 6715 times)
cchapin
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Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« on: 12/26/12, 03:02 PM »

Summary

This year we asked Santa for deep powder, stable snowpack, beautiful country, and great people.  Not only did he deliver but he came a couple days early.  We decided to celebrate Christmas at Scottish Lakes High Camp this year and it turned out to be an outstanding choice.  The temperatures remained cold, about 20 F, and 2-4 inches new snow fell while we were there, on top of all the powder from the last 2 weeks of storms.

Day 1

We woke up Saturday morning to drive to the pickup location at 9am.  On the drive along highway 2 we saw many downed trees or leaning trees from the weight of all the new snow.  Some were dragging power lines all the way to the ground.  We learned later, on Tuesday, there had been 2 fatalities on the highway from a falling tree.

Once we arrived, we met Don, Isaac, and a family of 3 with their friendly dog Kodiak.  Don is one of the owners and has been there for 18 years.  Isaac is a co-host on his college break.  After doing introductions and chatting, we loaded up the vehicle with all our gear and Isaac started driving us up.  Don came up partway and chatted about his ties to the Czech culture.  He was best man for a Czech man named Jirka, who worked at High Camp for many years while here as an exchange student.  Soon we dropped Don off and continued on to the transition-to-snowmobile point.  With the now empty seat, Kodiak decided to cuddle up with Radka, much to her delight!

When we got to the transition point, we met Eric, the current host of High Camp.  Eric is also on college break and one of the most energetic people we have ever met.  He loaded the gear onto the sleds and we took off.  Mother Nature’s joy had its consequences on us.  All the new soft snow gave the snowmobiles quite the challenge.  Kudos to Eric and Isaac for working their butts off to get us and our gear up to High Camp.

Once we arrived at High Camp, we headed towards the common lodge while we waited for our gear.  There we ate lunch, drank hot beverage, and met some of the other folks staying up there.  Once our gear arrived we settled in to our cabin then went out for a short 3 hour tour to start getting acquainted with the area.  We left High Camp on Jirka’s Trail.  All the trails are well marked with signs on trees or tape, but we lost the trail because the trees were completely plastered in snow.  The snow was deep!  Soon we intersected with the Ridgetop Trail and took that up McCue Ridge until we decided to turn around at 4pm.  We returned to High Camp just after 5 via headlamp, coming back via Lower Road and Mac’s Express, a full loop from where we started.

After getting the fire going in our cabin and hanging gear to dry, we went down to the common lodge for the potluck dinner.  There we met Don’s wife, Chris, and sat down for dinner.  Don continued to chat with Radka about the Czech culture and his many trips there.  Before retiring for the evening, we made plans with Eric to meet the next morning and he’d show us “the backside.”

Day 2

We met Eric at 7:30 outside the common lodge.  We commented to Eric that the snow looked really good and he confirmed it was creamy.  He and Isaac had already gone up McCue Ridge earlier in the morning.  Isaac was now waiting for us there.  Then Eric put on an enormous pack on.  It was Isaac’s.  His pack was inside.  Isaac’s snowboard was strapped to the outside.  WHAT?

Eric started up Wild Bill Hill and quickly outpaced us.  Nearing the top, we ran into Isaac working his way down to meet us.  When we asked him how he talked Eric into carrying his gear, he said it was Eric’s idea.  HUH??  Soon we reached the ridge crest and hopped over to the beautiful south slopes of McCue Ridge, known as the backside.  We transitioned under calm weather with some views of nearby Big Jim Mountain and the Chiwaukum valley.  Then Eric led us down an outstanding top 900’ of a run that goes all the way to the valley floor when there is a deeper snowpack.  Everyone was stoked!

Eric enjoying his pre-work shot of powder:


Me:


Isaac shredding:


After all the wooots and yeeeaaaaaahhhs, we transitioned on a small bench for the uphill.  Eric led the way and broke the entire skin track faster than we could follow.  This guy is a machine!  Once we reached the drop in point, Eric and Isaac left for their work duties.  Radka and I grinned from ear to ear, ready to farm the pow.  We completed 4 more laps venturing into different lanes near the first one, extending the skin track as needed or rejoining it.  We found a run that went a little further, probably 1200’ feet long.  At about 4pm we headed back to High Camp via Wild Bill.

Radka:


Me:


We ate dinner then went to the common lodge to learn about taking a shower and using the sauna.  While Radka was in the shower, Eric and I started discussing options for tomorrow.  He suggested Mount Baldy, which is the high point 7132 west of Loch Eileen.  He described the route and said he’d done it round trip in 4 hours.  Before work.  He had to be at work by 9 and get ready for the 11am pickup.  I feel that he sensed my reluctance from the silence as I was doing the math in my head (regarding wake up time) when he added, “I’ll break all the trail.”  I had to laugh at this, but agreed let’s do it!  We decided to give ourselves 5 hours and leave around 4am.  When Radka returned from her shower, she was a little surprised upon learning what the plan was but none-the-less agreed to it.  Then I took my shower and sauna, and we went to bed.  That night, the wind really began to pick up…

Day 3

I didn’t really sleep much.  Between the wind, the fireplace, and tree bombs it was hard getting continuous, quality sleep.  When the alarm went off at 3, I was already awake.  We got ready then met Eric and Isaac at the common lodge at 4 and discussed the options and general plan.  We left High Camp around 4:30 under headlamp in the howling wind on High Country and connected it to the Lake Julius trail.  Just outside High Camp, Eric remembered he forgot to leave a note and had to go back.  After he rejoined us he started breaking trail.  Again, we could not keep up.  Eventually the glow from his headlamp disappeared.

The drop down to Lake Julius from High Country was interesting, tight trees and not very enjoyable.  Once we got to Lake Julius we were completely exposed to the wind.  While travelling around the lake, with low energy from lack of sleep, and cold from the wind, I said to myself, well this kind of sucks.  After 15 minutes or so we were back in the shelter of the trees and on the way up to Loch Eileen.  We got to the outlet of Loch Eileen then started heading up the ridge just south of the lake, a steeper NE slope we were concerned about possible wind loading on.  Here we found more stable conditions and continued on.  It was now starting to get lighter out and the sun was rising.

Skinning up as the sun begins to rise:


Pretty soon Eric reached his turn around time, and we were still 1000’ below Baldy and probably a mile and half away.  It was 7:45 and we said good bye.  I felt bad he didn’t make the summit because of our slow butts, but he said he didn’t care he’d been there before.  I realized at this point Eric was a manimal.  And that there was “Eric Time”, and “The Rest of Us Time.”  How he did Baldy in 4 hours roundtrip still boggles my mind.  In terms of snow conditions, he turned around at the right time.  From here on up, the snow just became more and more wind affected; ever thicker wind crust, eventually wind scoured with pockets of forming sastrugi.  Isaac continued to press on with us because he still wanted a view of the summit which we hadn’t gotten yet.  Even so, the views we would get 10-15 minutes later when Isaac decided to turn around, were poor at best, since it was surrounded by clouds.

Sunrise, looking back in the direction we came from:


It took us another hour and half before we reached the summit, 5 hours total since we left High Camp.  The wind continued growing fiercer the higher we went.  At times I was almost knocked over and had to stop moving to keep my balance.  When we reached the summit we had a view straight down to the highway 2 valley floor, some 4000’ feet below. 

Summit of Baldy:


The limited views quickly disappeared though and white out conditions started to increase.  We finished our snack and started to head down, at times not knowing what was up or down.  After 500’ of descent we were below the cloud deck.  The skin track was already completely obliterated in many sections, the wind erasing all traces of its previous existence.  As we traversed more of this mellow and flat terrain back towards Loch Eileen, it started to clear partially.  We were amazed at how much beautiful terrain there was still out here to be had.  Literally weeks’ worth of side trips and awesome lines.  At this point the wind began to abate and decrease the rest of the day.  And we hadn’t skied the good slopes yet.

Me forgetting to ski closer to the photographer:


Enjoying the last good slope down to Lake Julius:


We got back to High Camp at 2pm, glad to have a cabin to go back to.  We started the fire, snacked, and then went down for naps.  I chatted with Eric later that evening and made arrangements to leave around 3pm the next day.  The moon was out for the beginning of the night casting lovely shadows in the trees, but eventually consumed by clouds again.

Resting well inside:


Day 4

Merry Christmas!  The morning brought light snow and milky conditions again.  We slept in and made bacon and eggs for breakfast.  We packed up the cabin then headed out for some more laps on the backside before our scheduled departure time.  In hindsight we should have left earlier because the snow was so good.  So far the day and early morning had brought a few gusts of wind but even these died down to nothing as soon as we started our 3 lap closure.  Almost all the tracks from Sunday had completely filled in.  The skin track was almost non-existent except for the places where you could find it still firm under foot and where the wind hadn’t completely reset it.  We ventured further east down McCue Ridge and found more goodies.  We couldn’t see any end of this in sight.  And we had it all to ourselves.

Enjoying more pow:


Radka ripping it up:





Eventually the time to leave came which is always a sad moment.  We got back to High Camp and got set up with Eric to leave.  We had a fantastic trip at Scottish Lakes High Camp and wish it could have kept going!  We have a return trip idea this spring to harvest some corn and do some of the bigger objectives in the area.  Big Thanks to all the courteous and super friendly staff up there who do an awesome job keeping it running!  In my short career of skiing for 6 years, this trip is now on the top of my list.
« Last Edit: 12/26/12, 07:00 PM by cchapin » Logged
Snoqualmonix
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #1 on: 12/26/12, 03:50 PM »

Killer TR Chris, thanks for sharing!
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nickwiarda
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #2 on: 12/27/12, 04:01 AM »

Agreed, thanks for sharing!
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Beardedclam
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #3 on: 12/27/12, 07:08 AM »

Good Stuff!

I go to school and ski with Eric, and can attest to his masochistic sense of pleasure. Last year he climbed and skied Mt Baker as well as the North Twin, biking to TH's from bellingham. He is a beast.
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ron j
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #4 on: 12/27/12, 08:08 AM »

Nice report, Chris.
I'm glad you and Radka had a great Christmas Smiley
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Marcus
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #5 on: 12/27/12, 08:25 AM »

Awesome TR Chris -- I still haven't made it up to Scottish Lakes.  Looks amazing.
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cchapin
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #6 on: 12/27/12, 09:17 AM »

Thanks!

Eric was telling about his trips us Baker and North Twin via biking from BHam.  My jaw damn near hit the floor... lol

We finished processing the rest of the photos last night, including maps with our GPS tracks, available here:

http://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/Scottish-Lakes-December-21-25/27259489_mggmfP
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Dave_R
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #7 on: 12/27/12, 10:32 AM »

Good report Chris!  Glad you had Eric to show you the goods - there's a lot more up there...  Yeah, Heidi always laughs about even thinking about keeping up with Eric.  She's up there now working with him through New Year's.

And a nice shot of you stoking up that beast of a stove in Paintbrush(!).  That's been our usual cabin for years, but with the kids off at school it's time for a smaller "couple's" cabin now.  I can't say I'll miss that stove much (too darn hungry and tricky to throttle down well). 

Thanks again for the teaser.  It'll have to hold me over until we're up there in February.  If you ever want to compare notes, you know where to find me.

-Dave
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savegondor
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #8 on: 12/27/12, 10:39 AM »

i wonder if people truly realize the kind of access to wild BC that Scottish Lakes opens up for you.  this place is sick. 
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Dave_R
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #9 on: 12/27/12, 10:46 AM »

Agreed - just don't tell too many folks  Wink
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JibberD
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #10 on: 12/27/12, 02:04 PM »

Thanks for this excellent report.

What is the process and cost for getting set up with a guide to the goods? Is this all included in overnight package, or is the guide an add-on?

A first trip to this place is first on my short-list...
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-Doug O
cchapin
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #11 on: 12/27/12, 02:54 PM »

You pay for overnight lodging and self transportation (which is optional) from the snowmobile point.  I believe gear transportation is included in booking.  The prices are all online their website.

Eric is a host, not a guide, and the only time we skied with him was before 9am, because then he had to go work.  I don't think they offer an type of paid guide service.  He's an enthusiastic guy and will be there another week or 2 for his winter break.  I'm sure if you get up there now you can talk him into an alpine start Smiley  They supply great topos of the trail systems around High Camp.  The hosts can at least point you in the right direction if their duties don't let them leave High Camp to tour with you.
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JibberD
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #12 on: 12/27/12, 03:13 PM »

You pay for overnight lodging and self transportation (which is optional) from the snowmobile point.  I believe gear transportation is included in booking.  The prices are all online their website.

Eric is a host, not a guide, and the only time we skied with him was before 9am, because then he had to go work.  I don't think they offer an type of paid guide service.  He's an enthusiastic guy and will be there another week or 2 for his winter break.  I'm sure if you get up there now you can talk him into an alpine start Smiley  They supply great topos of the trail systems around High Camp.  The hosts can at least point you in the right direction if their duties don't let them leave High Camp to tour with you.

Great, and thank you.
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-Doug O
kneel turner
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #13 on: 12/28/12, 12:32 AM »

Although they do appreciate gratuities.  Wink
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jtack
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #14 on: 12/28/12, 07:31 AM »

Wonderful, looks like you had it all, thanks for the report.
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Vince Lamphier
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #15 on: 12/28/12, 07:02 PM »

Awesome report! Great pics! I especially enjoyed the sunrise shot. 4 stars
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lisab
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Re: Scottish Lakes High Camp, December 22-25, 2012
« Reply #16 on: 01/01/13, 07:51 PM »

You pay for overnight lodging and self transportation (which is optional) from the snowmobile point.  I believe gear transportation is included in booking.  The prices are all online their website.

Eric is a host, not a guide, and the only time we skied with him was before 9am, because then he had to go work.  I don't think they offer an type of paid guide service.  He's an enthusiastic guy and will be there another week or 2 for his winter break.  I'm sure if you get up there now you can talk him into an alpine start Smiley  They supply great topos of the trail systems around High Camp.  The hosts can at least point you in the right direction if their duties don't let them leave High Camp to tour with you.

In case folks are interested, here is their website: www.scottishlakes.com.
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