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| | |-+  May 30, 2005, Little Tahoma, lower NE face
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Author Topic: May 30, 2005, Little Tahoma, lower NE face  (Read 4079 times)
philfort
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May 30, 2005, Little Tahoma, lower NE face
« on: 05/30/05, 01:49 PM »

I thought the NE face of Little Tahoma might make an interesting ski, and it seemed  like a reasonable solo proposition.  Leaving Seattle at 1:20am (earlier than  planned, since I couldn't sleep), I took a quick nap at the trailhead and headed up  the trail at around 4am.

After wiping countless spider webs from my face in the dark forest, I finally  reached the snowline (~5500ft) as the sun was coming up over the sea of clouds.  I  alternated skinning and booting (following firm day-old tracks from a climber with  gigantic feet) to the top of Meany Crest, and made a gentle rising traverse to the  "notch", where I met a group of 4 climbers who had turned around (didn't ask why,  but I assume it was snow conditions).  Views of Little Tahoma on the way showed the  crucial connecting ramp through the bottom cliffband on the NE face had not yet  melted out.

As I climbed the Whitman glacier, the slop factor increased - the cool breeze was  gone, and the place was like an oven.  Once it got too steep for skinning, I  switched to booting, and followed a firmer avalanche runnel upward - there was a  huge pile of debris, a few days old, at the bottom of the SE face.  Upon reaching  the 9800ft level, I could see that it came from a slab at the top of the Whitman  headwall.  It cleared out a good 2 feet of slush from the snowpack.

I continued right to a notch dividing the SE and NE faces, at about 10400ft.  The last hundred feet to  the notch were through completely saturated sluffing snow.  Uh oh.  On the other  side, the snow was just as bad - with my skis off, I was sinking to my knees in  "fresh" slop.  No consolidation here at all.  I hoped the middle of the face might  be better, since it was messed up with little slides and debris, maybe compacted a  bit.  Though I really wanted to, it didn't look like a good idea to continue the  remaining 400ft to the top of the face - it involved a steep section of smooth  "unmolested" snow near a ridgeline, above a cliff - I could imagine the whole thing giving way as I  wallowed up it.  The snow near the top looked thin and mixed with rocks and probably  really warm.

I figured I would traverse out onto the face, and if it seemed bad, go back and  reverse my uptrack down the Whitman.  With my skis on, I wasn't sinking so much, and  I couldn't get the snow to slide much. "Seems ok I guess", I thought, and so I  started down.  The turns were sloppy but sweet. Too quickly, I was at the lower cliffband. Hmm... where's that ramp?

I slid down a little more, and saw the ramp, and that I was home free.  Or was I?  I  worried that the thin snow at the ramp might be really slushy.  Well  it was, and it  was sliding deep and easily.  I darted across,sending somewhat scary slush-alanches over the cliffs  - if I didn't have significant foreward momentum, I'm not sure I would have been able to resist  the downward pull of the heavy snow.  Glad that was over! And it re-enforced my  decision not to try the upper face (fyi, it was about 10:30am at this time).

From here, I cruised down another 1000ft of fun slopes, before making the long  traverse across the Frying Pan, and finally to the super nice pitches that drop off into  Summerland.  The snow here was mushy but not that deep - really awesome.  Things got  a little dirty near the bottom, and I skied down to 5700ft or so, where I met up  with a family of 4 heading home from a 3 day trip here.  The 2 kids (maybe 6 and 8  years old?) had huge packs, and were struggling a bit with their skinny cross-country  skis - but they were loving it.  Nice to see.

I took a leisurely hike out, and entered the lowland drizzly clouds again on the drive home, just past Greenwater.

The line I skied
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Robie
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Re: May 30, 2005, Little Tahoma, lower NE face
« Reply #1 on: 05/30/05, 02:21 PM »

Very interesting ,too bad the damn snow has not consolidated.Did you put your uptrack in the same place as your blue downtrack ?
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powscraper
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Re: May 30, 2005, Little Tahoma, lower NE face
« Reply #2 on: 05/30/05, 04:58 PM »

Quote
Views of Little Tahoma on the way showed the  crucial connecting ramp through the bottom cliffband on the NE face had not yet  melted out.


Hmm... better bring the snowboard next time, then you can just huck it! Cheesy  Wish I'd been well enough to get out this weekend. Angry

So I take it from the snow you found, that something like the Fuhrer Finger wouldn't have been such a good idea?
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philfort
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Re: May 30, 2005, Little Tahoma, lower NE face
« Reply #3 on: 05/30/05, 06:15 PM »

Quote
Did you put your uptrack in the same place as your blue downtrack ?


Nope, I climbed the Whitman glacier side (left side of pic) and traversed over.


Quote


Hmm... better bring the snowboard next time, then you can just huck it! Cheesy  Wish I'd been well enough to get out this weekend. Angry

So I take it from the snow you found, that something like the Fuhrer Finger wouldn't have been such a good idea?


Yes, I'm sure everything would have been different if I'd brought my board  Wink  I probably could have hucked the 300ft summit cliffs, and the snow would have been firmer too.  Woulda been sweet!
The Finger probably would have been bad, but who knows - sounds like Silas found consolidated snow on Baker this wknd  Huh  No fair!
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Dave_R
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Re: May 30, 2005, Little Tahoma, lower NE face
« Reply #4 on: 05/31/05, 05:02 AM »

So now I can tell my kids exactly where the guy with the matching shirt & skis went.  You were only one of two skiers we saw all three days.

Yes they had a blast.  I'll see if I can post separately on our weekend.  BTW, they're 11 and 14 (!), we just don't grow 'em too big.  And their packs are about 15 and 20 lbs respectively.  They both got to try out mom's AT gear which they liked a whole lot better than their skinny x-c stuff (imagine that?), but until it rains money, we'll have to make do.  That is unless anyone has some smaller AT gear they'd like to donate...

-Dave R
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philfort
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Re: May 30, 2005, Little Tahoma, lower NE face
« Reply #5 on: 05/31/05, 06:12 AM »

Oops!  I guess I'm not very good at estimating kids' ages.  Cheesy
Anyway, nice meeting you!
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