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Author Topic: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse  (Read 5144 times)
Kyle Miller
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June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« on: 06/20/13, 01:16 PM »

I can't say I am responsible for this dream. This one goes wholeheartedly to Lowell and Carl Skoog and Jens Kieler who dreamed up such an ambitious trip through the heart of the North Cascades Crest in one continuous push. It seemed like a grand adventure, but far beyond my abilities and desire to pull off. For numerous years Jason would joke about trying to attempt it and I would simply laugh it off. Well, until I received a email in mid May that would change my perspective.

Here is a informative and well written TR from Lowell explaining it.



I received an email from Forest asking what Jason and my plans were for the month of June. He was looking for partners crazy enough to attempt the traverse, but for the first few days I wanted nothing to do with it. However, after a lot of thought my perspective changed. What changed, you ask? The allure of having a splitboarder, Cascade born and raised, pulling it off held an incredible amount of value to me, not to mention that my family has deep roots in the Skagit valley (Sedro Wooley and Marblemount). I didn't think I could pull it off but I would put my blood, sweat and tears into it. I had never been in most of the terrain and couldn't think of a better way to check it out. In the end Forest bailed leaving only Hummel and I. We felt comfortable with the group dynamics as we have been at it for years now, and so I packed with only 48 hours before the trip.



This is a generalized breakdown and a far more detailed report will come out in the hopefully near future.

The Isolation Traverse

It was a mixture of rain and new snow as we made our way up and over the Isolation area. Travel was smooth sailing for the most part until we got to Backbone ridge, which was a sluff nightmare. Our ski tracks caused wet slides that would run below us and made travel both slow and insanely cautious. But in the end we made our way up and over Dorado Needles and at the end of the 4th day we made our way to the Eldo Trailhead where James Rowe (our hero) waited with our food for the second round of the trip.



The Ptarmigan Extended.


We walked from the Eldo trailhead to Cascade Pass before making our way into the Ptarmagin Traverse. We were fortunate that we ran into Trevor Kostanich and partner at the 21 mile mark parking lot. They were kind enough to put in the bootpack across the Mix Up Arm Traverse, but after that we were on our own. Our packs were huge but we slowly followed the main route, putting in the path on Red Ledges and making our way out to White Rocks Lake over 3 days. From there we had no specific path to follow and would make up our own. We dropped to the valley below the Chikamin Glacier and made our way up to the Sinister/ Gunsight col and camped fearing the crux of the section, the NE side of Bannock Lakes. The next day we wrapped around and followed Ross Pass all the way to Bannock via a mellow slope and celebrated with hours of resting in an area that sees little traffic. The next morning we went up and over a low col and rode down to within a few hundred vert above the PCT trail. I persuaded Jason to hike down into the Agnes Valley but upon arriving we realized it was a bad mistake and got back into the alpine, traversing around Sitting Bull Mountain and riding the SE flank down to Agnes valley once again but at a higher elevation. From there we skinned up and over Cloudy Pass and camped at Lyman Lake for the night before ditching our gear and making our way down to Holden where we had mailed our last cache.



Holden

Construction has changed the valley temporarily, but Holden is still Holden. It's nice going to a small town where people recognize you and are happy to hear of your adventures. We were insanely fortunate that they were kind enough to feed us and recharge the occasional battery before kicking us out of town as visitors are against the rules during summer months for the next 3 years. Our packs were filled with gear and it was time for the final push to Glacier Peak.

Suiattle High Route

We left Holden Campgrounds early in the morning, making our way up to Upper Lyman Lake in the early afternoon. It was raining and I wondered why in the hell we had left Holden, but we had to work with the weather. The forecast wasn't looking good BUT was calling for two good days of weather so we had to push it and get out before things went bad. The next morning we woke up to whiteout, followed fortunately by blue skies and knew we had to go while we had the chance. We climbed up the NE face of Chiwawa and rode down the SE face before heading up Fortress and summiting via the spicy east ridge. We descended the west face via a route Jason had not-so-fond memories of and camped right off the Buck Creek Pass trail. The next day we went over the high country of High Pass down into the one area I was familiar and fond of, the Dakobeds. Finally, we were in my zone and we made good time up the Napeequa Valley before camping under the NW side of Ten Peak in a  campsite we had been at 3 years prior. The final day in the alpine was spent climbing up the Honeycomb Glacier, then the Suiattle and Cool standard south route.

Ever since I went out to Glacier Peak in March and had to turn back on the Sitkum Glacier I wanted to return to do it. I knew the trail was destroyed but felt I could deal. We summited as an electrical storm was heading in from the east. With our gear buzzing, I thought “If I did die from lightening that would be one hell of a way to go...” Once we stepped foot on the summit the sun came out and we celebrated for a few minutes before making our first turns down the Sitkum. It was pow and it was pollen but most importantly it was 5000 vertical feet of riding before we would be transitioning to hiking for the final time.



The Exit

The storm came in as we started bushwhacking down steep forest looking for the old climbers trail. It was raining hard and thunder was going off above our heads. I loved it and found it fitting. That night we camped on the river side in the zone that used to be the Kennedy Hot Springs, stoked that we had 4 miles of easy exit ahead of us. The next morning we awoke to sunshine and started making our way downstream. Landslides have taken out the most complex of areas and made it a total pain to make our way back. A lot of the areas have huge consequences for a slip but we carefully bushwhacked our way down valley at a pace of around a mile an hour before making it out to the Whitechuck road. Jason hitched 3 rides back to his car at Pyramid Lake trailhead and drove back to pick me up merely minutes before a rainstorm hit. We were back home in the early morning hours, celebrating our achievement with fast food and warm showers.

In total, our trip was 16 days, 120 miles and 60K of climbing. Thank you Lowell, Jason, James, Cori and the people of Holden for making this dream/fear a reality.

Well.... The weather is bad, so until it improves I will be around. If there are any questions feel free to fire away!
« Last Edit: 06/20/13, 01:27 PM by Kyle Miller » Logged

In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
silaswild
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #1 on: 06/20/13, 01:37 PM »

Well done and well written, thanks for sharing.
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Jason_H.
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #2 on: 06/20/13, 01:42 PM »

Awesome adventure Kyle. Crazy times. Thanks for being a good sport and putting up with so much 'traversing'. It was an epic for sure. Loved that you put up with my route over the summit of fortress mountain. That was among the best days for me. 

Excited to edit through all the imagery, too. Since I'm long winded, it will likely take me a month to put a trip report together.

Thanks for the inspiration Lowell.
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Pete Alderson
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #3 on: 06/20/13, 01:42 PM »

wow guys.... wow.  what a gigantic trip!  
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AlpineRose
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #4 on: 06/20/13, 01:44 PM »

Wow. Wow.  Wow.  Congratulations on an epic achievement.  Over many years, I've visited most of that terrain.  But on foot and involving six or seven weeklong outings.  So I realize on a visceral level what you have accomplished.

You have reason to be proud of this accomplishment and for us to be proud as well.
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mikerolfs
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #5 on: 06/20/13, 01:59 PM »

Kyle your adventures make me want to quit my job.  Congratulations and well done to you both.  Amazing!
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bs.
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #6 on: 06/20/13, 02:08 PM »

bad ass.
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dberdinka
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #7 on: 06/20/13, 02:28 PM »

That's living the dream.

But what does this mean.....

"visitors are against the rules during summer months for the next 3 years"

Can you still catch a bus there?  Or is it simply you can't dine and overnight in their infrastructure?
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Kyle Miller
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #8 on: 06/20/13, 02:42 PM »

I know they can't stop through visitors but the bus only goes two days a week now and is filled to the brim with volunteers.

Things are different but it is still the same old Holden.
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
jordansahls
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #9 on: 06/20/13, 02:50 PM »

Now that is one impressive trip!  This is like old west, Sahara desert, Ernest Shackleton-esk adventuring!  It's so easy to believe that everything has been done and there are few adventures left to be had.  Thankfully, that is not the case.  Thanks for the inspiration boys.
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Marcus
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #10 on: 06/20/13, 04:36 PM »

Holy crap -- hell of a trip Jason & Kyle, nicely done!  Very, very inspiring.
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runningclouds
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #11 on: 06/20/13, 06:10 PM »

What a trip! Congratulation on pulling off this impressive feat.
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chieftaffy
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #12 on: 06/20/13, 07:57 PM »

Awesome work as always - You two put the A in adventure...
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Alpental aspirant...
danpeck
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #13 on: 06/20/13, 08:48 PM »

Woohoo!  Stuff like this makes me want to celebrate.  This is truly a great thing.  I look forward to hearing more about this and seeing more pictures... it is quite historic.  My admiration for the two of you grows with each of your adventures.  Nicely done.
« Last Edit: 06/20/13, 09:19 PM by danpeck » Logged
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #14 on: 06/20/13, 09:13 PM »

Congratulations on your trip, Kyle and Jason.

It's too bad that Forest wasn't able to go when the time came.

To James... you are a saint for supporting the trip like you did.

I remember being obsessed with this trip. But I made peace with my obsession after I completed my Baker-to-Rainier project.

A single push proved to be a poor fit for my lifestyle. It's terrific that you've been able to seize this time in your lives to achieve a more demanding goal.

To those who aren't able to bite off such a big project, it's still a wonderful route when broken into three segments:

http://alpenglow.org/skiing/isolation-1994/index.html
http://alpenglow.org/skiing/ptarmigan-2000/index.html
http://alpenglow.org/skiing/suiattle-1989/index.html

(I'll need to update the third story to mention your successful trip.)
« Last Edit: 06/20/13, 11:07 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #15 on: 06/20/13, 10:00 PM »

FWIW - I always considered the American Alps Traverse to have two major variants. The other one starts at Rainy Pass and follows the Mt Logan High Route to Cascade Pass. Then it goes south to Glacier Peak. That was the trip that Carl and I attempted in 1991. We bailed out near Mt Logan due to crummy weather (photos below). That variation would be worthwhile as well.

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alecapone
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #16 on: 06/21/13, 08:13 AM »

SISU!

Well done Klye ans Jason.
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scott
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #17 on: 06/21/13, 08:16 AM »

Holy shite Kyle.  Again!  Quite impressive.  Please - give us a presentation and the details somewhere, sometime.  Would love to see it and congratulate you and team personally.  A very fine adventure.
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JimD
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #18 on: 06/21/13, 08:26 AM »

Yowza! Goodunonya boys!!
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jtack
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #19 on: 06/21/13, 10:11 AM »

You guys are too tough for words, that is a suffer fest of spectacular proportions.  When you finish an adventure like that, a big trip takes on a whole new meaning.  Thanks for the report, and congrats!
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cornRIDE
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #20 on: 06/21/13, 10:37 AM »

words aren't enough sometimes! i'm sure you can relate as you type a TR. Smiley

atta boy!
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Griff
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #21 on: 06/21/13, 10:51 AM »

WOW!!! Inspirational to say the least.

I love these stories. Just a couple bros doing something big!! Far out!!
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Zap
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #22 on: 06/21/13, 12:57 PM »

Your great TR reminds me of a comment I made after Lowell's Dream Payoff in July 2007.

"It's interesting to see how plans and goals change as you move along the journey of life.    Smiley "
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ErikT
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #23 on: 06/21/13, 01:20 PM »

Thanks for the story, stoke and motivation!
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garyabrill
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Re: June 1st though 17th, The American Alps Traverse
« Reply #24 on: 06/21/13, 08:33 PM »

That is quite an adventure. You guys really put yourselves out there. I'll bet the weather was a nearly constant object of conversation.
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