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Author Topic: October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost  (Read 2598 times)
mikerolfs
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October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost
« on: 10/14/13, 01:24 AM »

First off, this is really a conditions report.  Although I carried my skis to the snow, I didn't ski. 

I saw this photo in the tan Beckey guide and I pictured myself skiing from near the top of Overcoat, down the 40 degree snow finger, and then on down the Overcoat Glacier:


Based on the snow I skied at Chinook Pass two weeks ago, I knew I'd find 2 feet of new snow at around 5000' with good coverage from there to the top.  And since it hasn't snowed down low yet, it seemed like the perfect time to get a dry trail approach to a winter-like ski.  When the weather report called for several days of sunny and calm, I knew this was going to be great.

I approached from the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road, which is closed 7 miles from the trail-head.  My plan involved a 7 mile bike ride, 3.5 mile trail hike, cross the river on a log, bushwack from 3000' to 5000', and then... nirvana!  I carried skins. (Unusual for me on summer ski-hikes).  I planned to go to the top and ski back to the bottom of the snow on Sunday, sleep there, and then if it was good, make another lap on Monday morning before heading out.

The plan:


Pretty good plan, huh?  I left Wenatchee at 5:00 AM on Sunday. The bike and hike went smooth, and the bush-whack was uneventful and surprisingly low on actual bushes. However I did curse the wet side of the mountains for the greasy logs, slippery rocks, and devils club.  I should have known from the view across the valley, but I had to actually get close to convince myself that I was wrong about the snow conditions.

When I got close, it was clear that the snow was too little, too warm.  The basin above 5000' looked like a minefield of rocks.  I sat down for a coffee break and tried to envision a fun ski run through what was above me, but I just couldn't do it.  It looked to me like that frustrating amount of snow in the fall that obscures the holes, but doesn't support your weight or protect you from anything.  It just looked ugly.  Ugly enough to pull the plug on this adventure, turn around and go home. 

chocolate chips


The bike ride out was the highlight of the day.  Mostly coasting, and when I did have to pedal, it was middle gears on the middle ring.  I got to my truck at dusk and avoided pulling out a headlamp.  I learned something for next time.  There are two parallel drainages that spill from the toe of the overcoat glacier.  I went up between the two and it was uncomfortably steep.  I came down on the east side of the east drainage, and it was smooth sailing.  I used my whippet on the descent, and I never felt like I was in a dangerous spot, like I did on the way up, so stay east.  It's better.

Take-away:  Not enough snow yet.
Approach:  Pack and skis strapped to bike rack
Deproach:  Pack on back, skis strapped to bike rack.  Handy for back protection when you fall off your bike in the rocks (which I only did once).

I thought this rock pile looked like a stuffed rabbit, but it was a rock pile.


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MtnPavlas
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Re: October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost
« Reply #1 on: 10/14/13, 06:53 AM »

Despite the results, this is yet another inspirational TR from MR Smiley Thanks for posting, Mike.
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jtack
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Re: October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost
« Reply #2 on: 10/14/13, 02:49 PM »

Nice try,glad you got the scouting out of the way! It will be easy the next time.
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Marcus
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Re: October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost
« Reply #3 on: 10/14/13, 04:51 PM »

Good effort Mike! Sorry I couldn't join you.
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danpeck
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Re: October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost
« Reply #4 on: 10/15/13, 02:09 PM »

Nice Beta.  And I'd have to say any day in the fall with early snows is a good day in the mountains.  Wish I could have been there rather than in Vegas.
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danpeck
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Re: October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost
« Reply #5 on: 10/15/13, 02:11 PM »

... and I was just thinking it would be awesome to have you as a next door neighbor so we could plan, plot, and scheme every day after work for crazy adventures like this one.   Grin
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andyrew
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Re: October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost
« Reply #6 on: 10/15/13, 04:22 PM »

Another option for Overcoat is to go up the PCT from Pete Lake, then follow the N fork of Lemah Creek up the valley and cross a col to the northeast of Chimney Rock.  I did that late Spring a few years ago and it worked pretty well.  Probably not so much in the fall, however, due to wandering below avalanche paths that would be unsavory if the brush weren't covered.
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mikerolfs
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Re: October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost
« Reply #7 on: 10/15/13, 05:53 PM »

Another option for Overcoat is to go up the PCT from Pete Lake, then follow the N fork of Lemah Creek up the valley and cross a col to the northeast of Chimney Rock.  I did that late Spring a few years ago and it worked pretty well.  Probably not so much in the fall, however, due to wandering below avalanche paths that would be unsavory if the brush weren't covered.

Thanks for suggestion.  Pete Lake approach would require a much shorter drive for me from Wenatchee.  I want to go back, but I'll wait for spring snow coverage.

The closed portion of the MF road had a posting about bikes.  Allowed only on odd days and then no bikes after Nov.1, so to follow the rules in early winter you'd have to walk, and to follow the rules now, you can stay over night if you stay two nights. 

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bs.
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Re: October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost
« Reply #8 on: 10/15/13, 07:59 PM »

sounds like a fun mission whether you skied or not!  nice work.
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frankfrank
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Re: October 13, 2013 Overcoat almost
« Reply #9 on: 10/15/13, 09:31 PM »

The closed portion of the MF road had a posting about bikes.  Allowed only on odd days and then no bikes after Nov.1, so to follow the rules in early winter you'd have to walk, and to follow the rules now, you can stay over night if you stay two nights. 

That is referring not to the road but to the Middle Fork Trail (which connects to the road in a few places, but is mostly on the opposite side of the river). You can ride a bike on the closed road anytime.
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