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| | |-+  April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
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Author Topic: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse  (Read 3394 times)
kurthicks
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April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« on: 04/23/13, 11:31 AM »

I have long looked at the mountains north of Highway 20 while climbing at Washington Pass and wondered what skiing possibilities existed out there. A few minutes of map reading showed a potentially great tour connecting Mount Hardy, Tower Mountain, and The Needles—each of which features close to 2,000’ north facing ski descents. So on Sunday, under stormy skies, Forest McBrian and I departed from the Easy Pass trailhead intent on skiing eastward over the crest of the Cascades to investigate.

We climbed though tight trees and gained elevation quickly up the western flank of Mount Hardy. We had hoped to ski one of the steeper couloirs off Hardy, but stormy weather and sloughy snow forced us to our backup plan—down the easy way into the West Fork of the Methow River. There were just enough larch trees dotting the gully to provide contrast in the flat light.

Our second climb took us eastward to Snowy Lakes Pass and onward to Tower Mountain. As forecast, the weather started to clear allowing us to spy the correct gully that leads to a narrow notch in the bulking massif of Tower.  A quick boot brought us to the narrow col and a short rappel over a cornice. We giddily skied 2,200’ of powder that gradually thinned from boot deep to dust-on-crust near the valley floor.


Skiing the North Couloir of Tower Mountain.


This is what we came for. Touring along the ridge towards The Needles.

After a surprisingly chilly night, we continued along the crest of the ridge towards The Needles. This section was incredibly aesthetic, but not quite as straightforward as we had expected. We gained the col below Point 8140’ and peered down into the Leap Creek drainage. Another 2000’ of excellent powder skiing awaited us. A final short climb up to Delancy Ridge positioned us for nearly 3000’ of sunny, t-shirt corn skiing back down to Highway 20.

More photos here
« Last Edit: 04/23/13, 12:59 PM by kurthicks » Logged
cumulus
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Re: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« Reply #1 on: 04/23/13, 12:41 PM »


great trajectory! way to take advantage of that giant loop in the highway.
Monday looked like it was a gorgeous day... nicely done.

fyi - yr link's currently not wrking
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Stefan
hedonaut
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Re: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« Reply #2 on: 04/23/13, 01:41 PM »

cool tour!

yesterday was incredibly beautiful in those parts--we encountered your tracks periodically during a tour that included the superfly (i think it's called Open Fly) couloir on Mt Hardy--scored mucho powder.

thanks for the skin-track from hardy to tower!  i owe you a beer.
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Gregg_C
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Re: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« Reply #3 on: 04/23/13, 02:24 PM »

Way to link up the north face runs Kurt and Forest.  That looks like to have the potential to be a classic tour.  Leap Creek is one of my favorite places to out of the Methow.  So beautiful in there.  Thanks for sharing this nice looking trip.
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Pete_H
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Re: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« Reply #4 on: 04/23/13, 06:22 PM »

Mystery solved. Nice tour. Thanks for the skin track! That couloir on Tower looks killer.
« Last Edit: 04/23/13, 06:32 PM by Pete_H » Logged
danpeck
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Re: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« Reply #5 on: 04/23/13, 09:05 PM »

You gentlemen have planned your trips well lately. Thanks for inspiring. What an amazing area.

And is that forest I see with the big camera?  Nice!  I'm surprised to see you haul the extra weight  Grin

Great pics!
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« Reply #6 on: 04/24/13, 10:19 AM »

The future of ski mountaineering is in link-ups. "Kinda steep" and "pretty far."

This tour looks like a good one.

------

You might be interested in this article from the latest Alpine Club of Canada e-newsletter. It describes the Atomic Waymaker event, in which participants envision their "perfect ski touring day."

http://www.skintrack.com/skimo-racing/reports-results/interview-atomic-waymaker-2013/

I'm not sure a judged competition is the way to achieve this, but the concept of continuous movement with challenges that are engaging but not death-defying seems to me to embody the soul of ski mountaineering.

The Hardy-Tower-Needles tour fits that mold.
« Last Edit: 04/24/13, 09:46 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
ajjenkin
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Re: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« Reply #7 on: 04/25/13, 10:27 AM »

I've looked at this photo for several years now wanting to get back there and ski that line...

http://www.pbase.com/nolock/image/38019229

Nice to hear that it's a good one.  Thanks for sharing.
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alecapone
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Re: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« Reply #8 on: 04/27/13, 08:14 AM »

Man.. beauty tour kurt and forrest!

Quite the strong duo as well.  Lots of knowledge and experiance rolled into you two.

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scott
kurthicks
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Re: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« Reply #9 on: 04/27/13, 08:11 PM »

Thanks for all the kind words everyone. We certainly had a great time on this tour and highly recommend it as one to do right after the highway opens up.

Here's a video that I made of our trip:
http://kurthicks.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/needles-traverse-video.m4v
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Jake the Brit
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Re: April 21-22, 2013 Mount Hardy - Needles Traverse
« Reply #10 on: 04/28/13, 09:38 AM »

Great vid, great trip, featuring a ...snowcave...excellent, I'm convinced that's the way to go for multi-day stuff.
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