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| |-+  June 2013 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  June 8-9, 2013, Ptarmigan Traverse
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Author Topic: June 8-9, 2013, Ptarmigan Traverse  (Read 3243 times)
Mike M

Posts: 9

June 8-9, 2013, Ptarmigan Traverse
« on: 06/12/13, 09:01 AM »

Left Seattle Friday at 8pm, dropped the first car at the gated Suiattle River Road (FSR #26) and made it to the gate at Cascade River Road by midnight.  As of the 11th it looks like the road is open all the way to the Cascade Pass parking lot. We were moving by 6:30 Saturday morning, walking up the road in trail runners.  I was debating whether to bring shoes, but they are an absolute necessity for the exit and I was thankful my partners convinced me otherwise.

We were able to skin from the Cascade Pass parking lot.  It was cool and clear until we got into the sun at the top of pass. The views were amazing and the weather was as forecasted. We started noticing the high cloud deck becoming less sporadic and more continuous while we were transitioning at Cache Col.  We booted up a chute on the lower section of Arts Knoll and traversed to the Middle Cascade Glacier.  Our skins had become so saturated at this point that ski/Voille straps (life savers) were required to keep them in place.   We roped up for one short section on the upper portion of the Middle Cascade.  By this time the cloud deck had lowered and concealed the summit of Formidable. At the Spider/Formidable Col we were treated to spectacular views of the Le Conte Glacier and the surrounding peaks.  The clouds seemed to be chasing us from the north as we pushed ahead to the Yang Yang Lakes for a quick break and water refill.  By the time we reached the north shoulder of Le Conte Mt. the wind had picked up with a very light rain. The traverse to the base of the Le Conte Glacier went quickly and we were soon enveloped by clouds as we made our way up the glacier.  We roped up due to the low vis and open crevasses. At 8pm we decided to set up camp on the wind protected upper section of the Le Conte.  We were paid a visit by Mr. John Jameson before calling it a night in our cloud enshrouded Megamid. 
Moving again by 6:30am Sunday morning we quickly gained the col between Sentinel and Le Conte Mt. The traverse to and skin up the South Cascade Glacier went quickly as the clouds started to break just in time to witness the morning sun on Dome Peak and the Dana Glacier; pretty amazing stuff.  The clouds continued to clear until it was a completely sunny day.  We had a bit of a route finding glitch on the Dana Glacier, but soon found the correct route up to the south of Spire Point.  The turns down to Cub Lake were the best on the traverse, not that we had many.  Between soaked skins and the afternoon heat the skin/boot above the lake to gain Bachelor Creek drainage was downright miserable.  We were able to ski to about 4,500ft before shouldering the skis and starting the exhausting 20 mile hike back to the car parked along the Suiattle River Road.  Bachelor Creek slide alder + uncountable Downey Creek Trail blow downs = pain and anguish.  When I turned the GPS off it had clocked just over 43 miles, 28 of those coming on Sunday.  The mileage was more than anticipated, but in hindsight with the Cascade River Road gate closed, the minor route finding issue and the 8 plus miles on the Suiattle River Road itís probably pretty spot on considering the traverse itself is supposed to be 30 miles.

Very few carry overs due to a lack of snow.  We took crampons (ski & boot) and ice axes that we never used.  Another week or two of snow melt and the traverse will get much more interesting on skis.  Thanks to Tino and Josh for making this an unforgettable trip.  The bucket list continues to grow.

My hat goes off to the guys that skied the North Couloir on Spider in March, thatís bad ass.  So steep!

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Posts: 322

Re: June 8-9, 2013, Ptarmigan Traverse
« Reply #1 on: 06/12/13, 03:38 PM »

Nice work!  Downey Creek was pleasant last year.  Sucks to hear it is full of blowdowns now - there's already plenty of that to be had along Bachelor Creek.

Posts: 501

Re: June 8-9, 2013, Ptarmigan Traverse
« Reply #2 on: 06/12/13, 09:32 PM »

Very cool.  This one is an essential trip on my bucket list.  Thanks for the report!
Mike M

Posts: 9

Re: June 8-9, 2013, Ptarmigan Traverse
« Reply #3 on: 06/13/13, 11:03 AM »

Some more pics.  Hopefully the link works.!/media/set/?set=a.661018197248545.1073741825.100000211130240&type=3
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