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| |-+  March 2013 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  March 9th&10th, 2013, Suprise lake
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Author Topic: March 9th&10th, 2013, Suprise lake  (Read 2451 times)
Rowan Stewart

Posts: 111

March 9th&10th, 2013, Suprise lake
« on: 03/12/13, 09:50 AM »

After having read alecapone's thunder and mac tr from december, I decided surprise lake would be a good place to go in search of soft snow and sunny skies. It did not dissapoint.
My skier friend, Nathaniel, and I had romantic ideas of skiing up to the lake friday evening and camping out under the stars, but we decided against it, and got and early start from west seattle. We were at the parking lot by 730, and after some binding adjustement (I was on borrowed spark blazes for you splitboarders) and searching for the bridge, we were on the trail by 8. The snowshoer packed highway lead into the trees, and though unpleasant to skin on, made for relatively quick travel. When we reached the last open slope before the steep climb to the lake, we followed a fresh looking skin track up to the west. About halfway up the slope, after consulting the map, we realized we were heading the wrong way, but decided to climb the rest of  the way and make a run out of it.

The run was very fun, full of pillows and rolls, and the snow wasn't bad either. We switched over, had a quick snack, and followed the correct path up through the trees to surprise lake.
We reached the lake at 1145 (not an impressive time, i know) and were taken aback by the views.

I assume this is the Shocker couloir alecapone mentioned in his tr,  and we too spent some time staring at it while eating lunch at the lake. (more on that later.) The skinning up the west facing slopes above the lake was brutal. The wet, sun baked snow stuck to our skins in huge chunks, slowing our progress considerably. A short boot pack through some trees brought us to the bottom of a big low angle ramp with jagged peaks above it.

We endevoured to skin up the slope, but the wet packy snow that had stuck to our skins had frozen, and rendered our skins useless. The snow was ideal for boot packing though, and we kept going with our skis on our packs. there was 3-6 inches of soft dry snow on top of a firm crust which, with pockets of windloaded powder as deep as 10 inches. As the ramp turned the corner, a rimed summit pyramid came into sight.

This is a sub peak of Nimbus mtn, according to the topo. We topped out around 3 oclock, took in the beautiful views of the cascades, and got into shred mode.

The 6 inches of powder was enough to keep us above the hard crust underneath, and made for really fast, fun turns.

We ripped the ramp back down to the trees, making big fast runs in the sun. An unpleasant traverse through trees and avy debris left dropped us at the end of the lake, with a long pillow line below. The snow in the trees below the lake was great, and and the pillows were a fun way to cap off the day. The slog back down the valley was a mix of brutal traversing, and hiking, and the luge run back down the snowshoe track was exciting at best. We crossed the train tracks and made it back to the car, stoked on the epic day. We made our customary stop at the mcdonalds in sultan, (we're in highschool, it fits our budget,) and I was home on Vashon by 830.
Part two;
I got in touch with two of my other touring buddies that night, and we planned to go back to  surprise lake, and hopefully ride the shocker? couloir. An oversleeping friend, and poor luck with the ferries got us to ballard by 8. After switching cars and gear, and a few pit stops, we  were skinning by 1130 this time, just 3.5 hours behind the previous day. The approach went  the same, albeit we had to climb over a train that stopped in front of us.

The views from the lake were not what they had been the day before. Where mountain tops had been, there were now thick clouds. We actually used a picture i had taken of the couloir to find it. After skiing across the lake, and up the fan below the chute, we swithed to bootpacking, and started the slog up.

The climbing was ideal; packed powder on top of consolidated snow with only a few spots of buried unbreakeable crust. We kept climbing, aware that it was getting late in the afternoon, but the summit was calling us. We collapsed at the top of the couloir, and high fives went around. By the time we were ready to drop, it was 540; six hours of climbing. I dropped in first, and had some mediocre turns on the first pitch of the couloir, and stopped to take some shots

the turns below this were steep and deep. the skiers right side of the couloir held at least a foot of super stable windloaded pow. The sun crusted snow on the fan below was surprisingly skiable, and kept the whooping going all the way to the lake. It was a quick hike  back to the head of the lake, then were rode the same pillow line I had the day before.

Once we got to the traverse back across the slide paths, we decided to hike along the well beaten snowshoe track. headlamps on. There were some funny conversations had as we hiked along the winding path; talk of girls, sailboats, but mostly food. As soon as the track started winding definitively downhill, we strapped our boards on, and repeated the luge run, but this time by headlamp. It was an adventure. We were so tired when we got to the car that it seemed funny when we found the battery dead. tyler stood in the middle of highway 2 waving headlamps at passing cars until a nice guy in a subaru pulled over and gave us a jump. We once again descended upon the sultan mcdonalds to cap off the day. It was a great weekend of riding the the alpine lakes, and left me hungry to do more riding in that area.

videos to come - first day - couloir day
« Last Edit: 03/17/13, 05:37 PM by Rowan Stewart » Logged

Walking makes the world much bigger, and thus more interesting.
-Edward Abbey

Posts: 108

Re: March 9th&10th, 2013, Suprise lake
« Reply #1 on: 03/12/13, 11:56 AM »

Great TR, looks like some fun riding/skiing going on there.

Posts: 75

Re: March 9th&10th, 2013, Suprise lake
« Reply #2 on: 03/14/13, 10:00 PM »

all that talk of food only to end at Micky D's. cool tr.
John Morrow

Posts: 573

Re: March 9th&10th, 2013, Suprise lake
« Reply #3 on: 03/15/13, 05:57 AM »

Great TR, nice to know what was happening in other areas while we found all the drip chunder at Snoq and dust on crust at Blewett on those same days.  Way to snoop it out! 

Posts: 6

Re: March 9th&10th, 2013, Suprise lake
« Reply #4 on: 03/15/13, 05:12 PM »

Looks like an sweet trip! Definitely putting that pillow field on my hit list.

Posts: 826

Re: March 9th&10th, 2013, Suprise lake
« Reply #5 on: 03/17/13, 07:30 AM »

Nice back to back trips! Love that area.

Think we seen you at the car one eve when it was raining. Thought the exit must have been a bit moist.


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