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| | |-+  March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
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Author Topic: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!  (Read 7370 times)
freeskier
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March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« on: 03/16/13, 08:40 AM »

Always on the lookout for new skiing alternatives in the Snoqualmie Pass area, and lacking the skills and experience of a certain local Swiss mountain guide,I set my sights occasionally on routes that emphasis fun over daring and camaraderie over acumen. In a sense, a Haute Route for the Common Man. In that spirit the search for The Snoqualmie Unter Route was born.....
Martin Ayling and I had been eying this one for a while, ever since a trail running excursion two summers ago took us to the top of Mt Bessemer, part way out the Middle Fork Valley. At a height of 5,000' Bessemer is known as "The Grandstand of The Middle Fork"' and for good reason. Not only is it the highest point along this part of the range, but due to a lack of logging regulations several decades ago it was basically clear-cut, giving its east and west slopes a remarkable ski-run appearance. All the hiker's guidebooks and trail reports are full of complaints about a snowpack that lingers into early summer......perfect.
Our theory was that despite hiding in plain sight, it hasn't yet been skied due to the long approach up logging roads and the fact that it's overshadowed by all of the more glamorous ski tours in the Snoqualmie Pass area. Or perhaps it was just a sucky idea.......
Martin and I attempted it last spring, but got turned back by an impassable Middle Fork road clogged by deep snow and downed trees. This year with a clear road, a snow-line hovering around 2,500' and cobalt blue skies it seemed like the perfect time to go for it.
Enlisting Tony Roehl, as much for his good spirits as his disgustingly flawless ski technique, we devised a plan utilizing mountain bikes and alpine touring skis to get us up and back down the 4,000' of vertical as efficiently as possible. Assembling in North Bend at 8:00 am, the three of us loaded up then proceeded out the deeply rutted MF road, (that stands for Middle Fork....honest!) arriving at the Bessemer gate around 9:00. Never having ridden with fully loaded packs and skis, there was a certain amount of skepticism on whether the bikes were a good idea, but even if we had to push them uphill for a few miles the hope was that they would make coming back out a whole lot more pleasant! A lone mt biker who showed up as we were about to set out stared incredulously at our skis and asked us if there was any snow around here? We told him that we hoped so......
As it turned out, the bikes worked beautifully and we mostly rode, and occasionally pushed them up the first 1,000' of elevation gain and 2 miles of road. There we hit enough snow to stash the bikes, and then hiked another half-mile to the 2,500' level where the snow was continuous enough to slap on skins and start skiing. As we transitioned, a group of ill-prepared, post-holing Russian day hikers expressed amazement that skis could go uphill......
And uphill they went for the next couple of hours, though the grade was pleasant and the views kept getting better and better. Finally, around the 4 hour point we worked our way up the final ridge, and cresting one last cornice we stood upon the summit taking in the astounding scenery.
The entire Middle Fork Valley stretched before us to the east, with the view extending all the way to Mt Hinman. To the west were the buildings of downtown Seattle. Baker to the north, Adams and Rainier to the south it was a 360 degree panorama and worth every calorie to get there.
Surveying the scene, Bessemer's east and west slopes indeed looked skiable with fabulous chutes and runs extending down its flanks. Vowing to come back, perhaps for an overnight trip to take full advantage of all it has to offer, we ate lunch and prepared to descend back the way we came, or at least mostly so.....
By this time the sun had softened the snow into a smooth corn/slush mix, and jumping in we whooped our way back down the ridge to one of the first switchbacks. There, awaiting us was a 40 degree chute disappearing into the trees below, giving us a major decision to weigh; take the chute and risk getting treed-out and maybe miss the exit road entirely? Or take the more pedestrian logging road descent and the sure way back?
Well you KNOW we took the chute, and the decision paid off like a slot machine! 800' of goodness, dropping us onto our exit road with only a minimal amount of deviating through the trees. If we'd only known that there was one nearly twice as long just two gullies to the east.......
Jazzed by the cool run that we'd found, we hastened down the road as fast as our skis would run and only got a little annoyed that even on a mountain as isolated as Bessemer we got our skin track trampled by the Russkies.
Gliding down to the 2,500' level, we finally clicked out of our skis as rocks began to poke through the thinning snow. The bases of Martin's G3's think that perhaps we pushed it a little further than we should have.....After a short hike in our boots we arrived back at the bike stash for an enjoyable 2-mile coast back to the car, arriving about 3:30 pm.
Thanks to Martin and Tony for not only agreeing to go, but for their awesome attitudes and for not once making me regret not bringing the binkie....!
I think we'll be back for more of this one

More pics to follow.


* Middle_Fork_-_ski_it_if_you_can.PNG (240.56 KB, 300x450 - viewed 1458 times.)
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freeskier
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #1 on: 03/16/13, 09:04 AM »

The mt bike part


* Bess_Pic_2.JPG (211.49 KB, 450x600 - viewed 1416 times.)
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freeskier
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #2 on: 03/16/13, 09:05 AM »

The mt bike part.


* Bess_pic._2.PNG (247.38 KB, 278x425 - viewed 1425 times.)
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Joedabaker
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #3 on: 03/16/13, 09:12 AM »

Well documented..did not even need pictures just let the imagination flow!
Thanks for sharing an unknown area...at least to me.
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freeskier
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #4 on: 03/16/13, 09:15 AM »

Skin tracks up.


* skin_track.PNG (240.6 KB, 283x425 - viewed 1420 times.)

* thats_what_Im_talkin_about.PNG (229.81 KB, 400x600 - viewed 1429 times.)
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freeskier
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #5 on: 03/16/13, 09:18 AM »

To the summit......


* final_ridge.JPG (141.25 KB, 600x800 - viewed 1391 times.)

* on_the_summit.JPG (119.86 KB, 600x449 - viewed 1410 times.)
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freeskier
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #6 on: 03/16/13, 09:20 AM »

The top


* the_top.JPG (113.08 KB, 525x700 - viewed 1382 times.)

* best_seat_in_the_house.PNG (251.2 KB, 675x449 - viewed 1405 times.)
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freeskier
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #7 on: 03/16/13, 09:21 AM »

Dropping in.....


* dropping_in.PNG (257.83 KB, 291x440 - viewed 1377 times.)

* SE_flank.PNG (243.32 KB, 500x330 - viewed 1368 times.)
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freeskier
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #8 on: 03/16/13, 09:23 AM »

Pinwheel Chute......


* top_of_Pinwheel_Chute.PNG (230.72 KB, 299x450 - viewed 1379 times.)

* bottom_of_Pinwheel.PNG (254.29 KB, 480x319 - viewed 1384 times.)
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freeskier
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #9 on: 03/16/13, 09:24 AM »

Heading home.....


* coasting_out.PNG (254.29 KB, 266x400 - viewed 1401 times.)
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freeskier
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #10 on: 03/16/13, 09:25 AM »

Map, and aerial view.....


* map.PNG (230.03 KB, 299x450 - viewed 1363 times.)

* aerial_view.PNG (257.12 KB, 319x480 - viewed 1371 times.)
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Marcus
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WWW
Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #11 on: 03/16/13, 09:56 AM »

Awesome -- nice work!  The Middle Fork always delivers, as someone said to me.  Sometimes it just delivers suffering.
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cumulus
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #12 on: 03/16/13, 10:08 AM »

What next?  Mt. Si?  I don't think it's been skied...  Wink

nice one! good mix of self propelled motion. could prob skip the car altogether and just do this straight out of North Bend...
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Stefan
John Morrow
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #13 on: 03/16/13, 10:48 AM »

Long Live the Common Man! 
Sweet,
Now I know who to call for partnering up on a sufferfest!
Well done
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Fall City Brian
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #14 on: 03/16/13, 11:28 AM »

What??  No invite?  Great report bro and well written. My Santa Cruz would have loved it!
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Andrew Carey
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #15 on: 03/16/13, 12:34 PM »

... and what are those tracks (prints) in the summit photo?  Look big.
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... want your own private skintrack? Better move to the yukon dude. (B'ham Allen, 2011).
...USA: government of the people by corporate proxies for business.

Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise
RonL
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #16 on: 03/16/13, 01:26 PM »

Great! I love it when the mid fork gets some attention. Believe it or not, Bessemer even appears in a handful of guide books for skiing (usually old ones). It was probably more popular with the skinny skis. If that only got you interested in the peculiarities of this terrain then look into the green ridge lake trail or Dingford. Plenty of miserable approaches for marginal gains but also some unique experiences like skiing thru hemlock groves and some fun cols hide in there.
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GregLange
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #17 on: 03/16/13, 05:34 PM »

Also appreciated your portend-of-summer-to-come approach transpo with the bikes! Multi-tasking on the fitness front! Nice bag, gents!!
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freeskier
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #18 on: 03/16/13, 10:56 PM »

Great! I love it when the mid fork gets some attention. Believe it or not, Bessemer even appears in a handful of guide books for skiing (usually old ones). It was probably more popular with the skinny skis. If that only got you interested in the peculiarities of this terrain then look into the green ridge lake trail or Dingford. Plenty of miserable approaches for marginal gains but also some unique experiences like skiing thru hemlock groves and some fun cols hide in there.

We trail ran Dingford and scrambled up the back side of Big Snow last summer as well hoping to find some unusual ski terrain. Tougher approach and seemingly less appealing ski opportunities......we're not done poking around up there yet though....
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trees4me
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #19 on: 03/18/13, 11:11 AM »

bikes or no bikes, it's always a crazy day when you have skis on the middle fork!  Nice job actually getting some fun turns in, that's not easy.

Snow level at 2500' is good to know, thanks

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chill people, skiing is fun
RossB
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Re: March 9, Mt Bessemer.....Yep, I said Bessemer!
« Reply #20 on: 03/25/13, 08:45 PM »

Great! I love it when the mid fork gets some attention. Believe it or not, Bessemer even appears in a handful of guide books for skiing (usually old ones). It was probably more popular with the skinny skis. If that only got you interested in the peculiarities of this terrain then look into the green ridge lake trail or Dingford. Plenty of miserable approaches for marginal gains but also some unique experiences like skiing thru hemlock groves and some fun cols hide in there.
Yeah, it is mentioned in the first edition of Cross Country Ski Tours 2 Washington's South Cascades and Olympics (Tom Kirkendall & Vicky Spring) 1988. Oh my, I guess 1988 is a while ago (I'm getting old). They pulled it out of later versions of the book (I'm not sure why). I once tried to ski Bessemer, but didn't have as much luck. We didn't bring bikes, but figured we would just hike to the snowline. But we didn't do our research, and the snowline was pretty much at the top of the mountain. So, basically, we carried skis to the top. I haven't been back, but have been meaning to. Thanks for the report.
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