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| | |-+  August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt
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Author Topic: August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt  (Read 2543 times)
KLW
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Posts: 112


August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt
« on: 08/29/13, 06:01 PM »

At some point early last week I sat my wife down, looked her square in the eye and said, "I'm going skiing next week. I don't know where, or with whom or even what day. But I'm going skiing. Someplace. Just so you're ready for me to blaze out of the house on little to no notice with my skis. Ok?"

"Ooookay..."

"OK. Just so it's not a surprise"

"I'm not surprised"

She's an awesome woman. An addict couldn't find a better enabler, and it's time that I admit I have an addiction.

It all started in March 2012 or so when my choss climbing partner finally got me onto a pair of tele skis.



I'd tried skiing and snowboarding before but frankly it didn't really seem like my thing. (I'm not exactly what one would call graceful) It made complete sense to me for going up but my previous attempts at "skiing out West" had not been pleasant or anything approaching successful. Surprisingly enough, shredding the Blue runs in Minnesota doesn't quite prepare one for dropping into a volcanic bowl. Or tree skiing with a 40 lb pack for that matter.



We were on the N side of the N sister with a bunch of climbing and bivy gear and somehow I ended up accidentally making a Tele Turn on the way down. I crashed on every other turn but all it took was that one nice, clean bit of knee dropping, and I was hooked.

Two weeks later I had my own skis, bindings and skins. A pair of Rossi BC125s mounted with a set of the rental Riva Z's. My partner saw my rig and asked me why I bought cross country gear. I was undaunted by his criticism.



I insisted that skiing wasn't going to be a problem for me and that I'd just take my time and learn at my own pace. I kept saying I wasn't in a hurry and wanted to learn on this lightweight gear because it made a lot of sense for traveling the volcanoes. I wasn't really into resorts, as I much prefer solitude, so I deluded myself into thinking I could just take a few trips onto the volcanoes every spring and I'd eventually figure out that damn turn.

My second to last ski day of 2012 was spent falling down the SW chutes of Adams while my partners tried to figure out how someone who was so solid on the way up could be such an absolute train wreck on the way down. I spent the drive home quietly contemplating whether or not I should just give it up and sell my gear. I decided on one last trip, a solo one, up the west ridge of Washington to the bowl.

It didn't look all that bad on the topo, of course, but it turned out to be quite the learning experience. All that avy debris wasn't on the topo. Ski and learn I guess. I had a blast and vowed to squeeze in a couple of resort days the following winter to “perfect” my turn.

Summer came and went. I scrambled some peaks, did some cool hikes and took a long road trip to visit family. What my family and friends didn’t know was that I was quietly convincing myself that I could learn the turn from reading books and getting a login at Ttips. I envisioned myself little toe, big toeing it down a slope. I held an imaginary orange with my hips. Or was it my knees? I hopped and hoped in my dreams of shredding the SW chutes the following spring.

No one noticed but my wife.

As the rains of late autumn set in I kept my eye on Marys Peak, just outside of town.  It wasn’t turning white fast enough for me. Early November found me making up stories of going crack climbing with my buddy in the desert when my real reason for heading East was to do a lap up Hoodoo. Hoodoo wasn’t ready for me yet and I had my first experience “skiing” in a full on downpour. Ski and learn. Month number 1!

December found me Skiing 12 inches of “powder” on a solid grass base on the gentle western slopes of Mary.




By January I was visiting Mary at least twice a week and was actually making a real tele turn at least one out of every dozen attempts. My wife tolerated me sneaking out there for quick tours before work. I took a jaunt up Diamond from the N end and was starting to feel like maybe I was getting the hang of it.


Then February happened.

Hoodoo started up their “Tightwad Tuesdays” again and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go check out lift served skiing in OR for $19. My ski buddy, who’s been on tele gear for 8 years, was more than happy to show me around the place. Of course by “show me around the place” I mean take me to the back side and throw me into the deep end of the pool. Ski or sink! Powder was a whole ‘nother beast.

The rest of the ski season is kind of a blur and included a couple more trips up Diamond, a couple up Adams (including a solo trip down the chutes that taught me the value of leashes) Hood, S Sister, 3 finger Jack, Washington, and pretty much every Tuesday at Hoodoo until the fat lady sang.



Of course once she started singing at Hoodoo we simply started driving farther and went to Bachelor. I wasn’t even trying to hide it at this point. Every spare moment was spent talking about corn, fall lines, bindings, technique,  etc,  ad nauseum. I started to notice that people would begin to drift off while I was going on, but I didn’t care. I was hooked and there was no hiding it.

Then Bachelor closed and the volcanoes started showing more rock than snow. Suddenly my ski buddies were talking about kayaking and mtn biking and outdoor concerts and rock climbing. It all sounded fun, but I couldn’t really figure out what it had to do with skiing.

By July I was forced to talk my brother into visiting so that I could take him summer skiing. He loved it but found it quite a bit different than the steep groomers he’d been skiing while stationed in Germany the last few years.







Then August was upon us. Of course I’d go skiing in August. Simplest thing in the world to do if you live in OR. We’ve got 35 glaciers and close to 450 permanent snowfields according to the Interwebz so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Except finding a partner.

I wasn’t keen on the idea of doing my first glacier ski solo and every single partner was either injured or more interested in disk golf. It dawned on me that I was barking up the wrong tree. I needed to find a climber and not a skier! With my hidden agenda I called my buddy Brian and asked him if he was interested in climbing the N Sister. He was immediately into the idea. I then casually mentioned that I was interested in maybe taking my skis along and checking out the skiing on the Collier glacier. He said he didn’t care and that the whole thing sounded like a Grand Adventure!

Sweet!

So that’s the long story of how I found myself yesterday, high, on the west side of the Sisters, connecting together a series of discontinues snow patches like a drunk slamming near empty beers 2 minutes before closing.  Truth be told it was the best failure to summit I’ve had on the N Sister, and I’ve had a few!

The pleasant hike in from 242 couldn’t really be anymore…well…pleasant, and the weather couldn’t have been better.

Arriving at our bivy site in the moraines at the western edge of the Collier I was happy to find this snowfield. It could have been bigger but I slayed it anyway.



We set off with rock gear in tow up the moraines the following morning.



The scenery never fails to impress.





I stashed skis about 2/3rds of the way up, as I was expecting the upper portion of the Collier to be cracked up beyond my taste that day. As we crested a prominent rise on the moraine we were traveling and the upper Collier came into view I realized immediately that leaving my skis lower was a bad choice.

However as luck would have it, once my partner reached my high point just above the S end of the Collier, it was apparent that he was done for the day. It was decided that technical climbing skills do not equate to choss scrambling endurance and the exit from the glacier and the following vertical sand pile scrambling didn’t appeal to him on this particular morning. My feelings were certainly not hurt as the corn was ripe and even from this distance I could hear the faint pleading of my rockered out T2s gently begging me to return to them and finally remove this August monkey from my back.

After a nice long break, basking in the sun just below the col between N and Middle, I announced that it was corn:30 and time to descend. Down we went. I painfully boot glissaded down a nearly crackless “glacier” as Brian carefully made his way down to me.



In just a few minutes I was back to my skies and ready to rip. What I did over the course of the next 20 minutes definitely wasn’t the best skiing I’ve ever had but with just a minimal amount of elevation gain I was able to access the mellow snowfields to the south and piece together somewhere around 1000+ ft of  turns.







I even dropped a knee a time or two but having brought a bazooka to a knife fight I mostly just tried to stay upright and keep my edges from catching on a suncup.



I was really wishing for my BC125’s on this trip but still no word on when Rossi is going to ship me my warranted pair.  Hard to complain about anything though seeing as this was day 50 for me this season and month 10 in my quest to become an official TAYer. Seeing as there’s fresh snow falling at elevation all ready I’m thinking this might have been the crux!

Thanks for reading my little tale. Sorry if I got a little long winded but there isn’t much going on around here right now and an unexpected rain day gave me the perfect excuse to share my story.

Happy turns and LONG LIVE TELEMARK!


« Last Edit: 08/30/13, 12:22 AM by KLW » Logged
bfree32
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Posts: 147


Re: August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt
« Reply #1 on: 08/29/13, 09:05 PM »

Sweet report, thanks for sharing. I haven't been skiing very much lately (I'm one of those mountain biker/rock climbers), but this is what the spirit is all about!
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vogtski
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Posts: 708


Re: August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt
« Reply #2 on: 08/29/13, 09:09 PM »

Thanks for sharing!  Most entertaining!  Good pics & great writing are always welcome here in the dog days...
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I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
mikerolfs
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Posts: 796


WWW
Re: August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt
« Reply #3 on: 08/29/13, 10:05 PM »

She's an awesome woman. An addict couldn't find a better enabler,

Smiley  I have one of those too. 

Loved both the PHR* and the TR.


*PHR = personal history report
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T. Eastman
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Posts: 439


Re: August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt
« Reply #4 on: 08/29/13, 10:53 PM »

Welcome to the dark side, things will only get worse from this stage!
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Don Heath
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Posts: 825


Re: August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt
« Reply #5 on: 08/30/13, 12:36 PM »

Nice KLW!  That was a very fun trip report to read.  Thanks!  Reminds me of my first August awhile back.  You're not the only one whose friends eyes' glaze over when we start droning on about summer skiing.  Great pictures, too.  Thanks for the inspiration.
« Last Edit: 08/30/13, 12:44 PM by Rusty Knees » Logged

The best part of summer skiing is napping on a warm rock.
Buck
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Posts: 41


Re: August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt
« Reply #6 on: 08/31/13, 11:01 AM »

Nice report.  I made some turns with you on Marys this past season and also have the BC's.  You were getting after it that day and looks like you have not stopped.  Looking forward to seeing you back on Marys this winter. 
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stoudema
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Posts: 478


Re: August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt
« Reply #7 on: 08/31/13, 11:10 AM »

Nice report and pictures!  I've always thought about heading in that way late in the year....still looks pretty good!  Welcome to the addiction!
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There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty." - Theodore Roosevelt
KLW
Member
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Posts: 112


Re: August 28, Collier Glacier and N Sister attempt
« Reply #8 on: 08/31/13, 04:19 PM »

Ya know, you guys aren't much of a support group if I'm gonna kick this thing!

Incidentally...today is the last day of August. Which means tomorrow is September.

Also known as month 11 in my world.

Anyone wanna take their skis for a long walk into Jeff Park next week?  Wink just one more summer trip. That's it. I swear. Just one more. Then I'll quit.


Hey Buck! Looking forward to watching Mary turn white again. Access probably won't be so sweet this year but that N Ridge hike is going to whip my ass into shape fast. See ya up there!
« Last Edit: 08/31/13, 04:29 PM by KLW » Logged
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