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Author Topic: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic  (Read 12892 times)
kciari
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January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« on: 01/06/14, 03:45 PM »

I headed out to Leavenworth with 4 dudes on Saturday late-morning. We were planning an easy 4 mile hike to Colchuck Lake,  where we would camp, get up, summit either Dragon Tail or Colchuck, ski down the Colchuck glacier, and hike out. All total would be 4 miles to the lake, a few thousand vert up and back, 4 miles out. An easy 8 miles round trip. No problem.

We arrived and to find the trailhead road was closed. It was completely, and I mean COMPLETELY iced over. Shit. We decided to walk it though (3.8 miles according to the directions, but methinks it was further), and put on our crampons, I shouldered my skis (along the only other skier on the trip) and overnight pack, and we were off.

Once at the trailhead we removed the crampons thinking we were in the clear, only to have 3 out of 5 of us slip and fall on black ice in the first 500 feet of trail. So back on the crampons went. All told, we wore them car to car.

6.5 hours later, in the dark, we made it to the lake and found camp. Dear god that was a long 8 miles. My feet already hurt, and upon inspection in the tent I did in fact have blisters. I decided to put some moleskin on and ignore them. We heated up our Mountain House dinners and took in the beautiful clear night. It wasn't too cold, but definitely chilly. The lake was completely frozen over, and no amount of hacking with an ice axe would yield fresh water. There also wasn't a bunch of clean snow for melt water, so we had a lot of forest in our drinking water.

We got up and left camp by 9am. It was a gorgeous day - clear and sunny, although we were in shade the entire time. We hiked the trail parallel to the lake before gaining the boulder field, which was a huge pain. The field had very poor snow coverage, which meant lots of dangerous post-holing and slipping with crampons on rock.

Once we gained the Colchuck Glacier where we found the conditions to be good. Very stable, but also icy. A few places were a little wind loaded with other areas swept clean of any snow, or beaten into a hard crust. Nothing was sliding with any sort of consolidation. We semi-regretfully left the skis at camp, but honestly with some of the extreme ice we saw up there skiing might not have been the best idea. 

We made it to the col in about 2.5 hours. The views were awesome! We finally had sunshine too. SO we basked for a bit and turned around without bagging Colchuck (we already knew Dragontail was out of the question) and headed down. We got back to the lake in an hour, 1/3 the time it took to climb. Then we packed camp and started huffing it out.

We hiked down. And down and down and down. For fucks sake it took forever. It's not steep, but is...long. Then we made it to the road. And hiked down some more. In all took 4 hours to regain the car. When I took my ski boots off my blisters were....impressive.

Moral of the story: do not hike 18+ miles in ski boots and crampons in two days with a 40lb pack. Also, don't go to Colchuck right now. It's just not a good idea.

Kristina
#tutusallyear


* ColchuckRaod.jpg (139.21 KB, 800x600 - viewed 2495 times.)

* ColchuckJan52014.jpg (159.45 KB, 800x600 - viewed 2514 times.)

* ColchuColView.jpg (137.46 KB, 800x600 - viewed 2512 times.)
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davidG
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #1 on: 01/06/14, 04:36 PM »

@ActiveLifeKC,  no comment on the choices... but those are impressive [Instagram] blisters...    Wink   
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"Maybe we should ban hikers from anywhere that there is a potential threat to surface water?"   [courtesy Newtrout, 2011]

"Good for you for getting it and thank goodness I wasn't there with you."  [courtesy mikerolfs, 2014]
kciari
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #2 on: 01/06/14, 04:51 PM »

I was trying not to be gross....but since you mentioned it, here are three more pictures. One climbing related, one hiking with crampons on bullshit ice-trails related, and one....well, really gross related.


* ColchuckGlacierJan52014.jpg (132.57 KB, 600x800 - viewed 2464 times.)

* FollowTheCramponMarks.jpg (144.95 KB, 600x800 - viewed 2420 times.)

* Blisterina.jpg (148.34 KB, 576x768 - viewed 2412 times.)
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ND
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #3 on: 01/06/14, 04:52 PM »

Thank you for convincing me that slide alder was the right choice of approach issues!  Also always bring mountaineering boots in the trunk, worst case scenario you look stylish getting beers after.
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kciari
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #4 on: 01/06/14, 04:58 PM »

Also always bring mountaineering boots in the trunk, worst case scenario you look stylish getting beers after.

Yeah....I should really get a pair of those. I only have BC ski boots and hiking boots, and I mostly go ski mountaineering so there's never been a use for mountaineering boots. I think this trip will make me change that tune.
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mikerolfs
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #5 on: 01/06/14, 05:22 PM »

Trip reports like this just make my heart sing.  Keep after it!  Good for you for getting it and thank goodness I wasn't there with you.  Although if I had been, there is no way I would have let you start up to the col without your skis.

Also, since the east side of the cascades has been an ice rink for the last month, I have used my Microspikes a lot.  For the kind of trail and road walking you were doing, they would have been perfect.  Way easier on your feet than crampons for the inclined ice trail. 
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kciari
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #6 on: 01/06/14, 05:25 PM »

Trip reports like this just make my heart sing.  Keep after it!  Good for you for getting it and thank goodness I wasn't there with you.  Although if I had been, there is no way I would have let you start up to the col without your skis.

Well thank you very much! It's definitely fun to get out! If you were there I would hope you would have advised me to just leave the skis in the car!

Also, since the east side of the cascades has been an ice rink for the last month, I have used my Microspikes a lot.  For the kind of trail and road walking you were doing, they would have been perfect.  Way easier on your feet than crampons for the inclined ice trail. 

Yes - noted. I ordered some microspikes just this morning in fact!
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I love skiing in a tutu. Find me via #tutusallyear.
Jonn-E
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #7 on: 01/06/14, 05:44 PM »

I am so glad you didn't call me! As much as I enjoy our long ski boot walks, that shit looks hideous.
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lrudholm
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #8 on: 01/06/14, 07:39 PM »

Wow. That first photo needs to be framed.
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Leyland
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #9 on: 01/06/14, 08:01 PM »

I slipped on the ice and landed on my back the other day taking the dog for a walk and I think I gave myself whiplash. The ice is an epidemic over here!
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #10 on: 01/06/14, 08:32 PM »

Wow. That first photo needs to be framed.

Scary how fast you could go if you skied down the road in that condition.

Smiley  This is a breeze...

Cheesy  I'm trucking now.

Grin  Wahoo!

Huh  Um, how do I stop?

Embarrassed  Oh man, this doesn't look good.

Cry  Ouch.

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telemack
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #11 on: 01/06/14, 09:15 PM »

Way to do the beat-down

Smiley  This is a breeze...

Cheesy  I'm trucking now.

Grin  Wahoo!

Huh  Um, how do I stop?

Embarrassed  Oh man, this doesn't look good.

Cry  Ouch.

 Angry  Shoulda kept my crampons on!
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There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
George Santayana
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #12 on: 01/07/14, 08:21 AM »

You just need to change your transportation strategy next time - maybe something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EG7kLjpzsM

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kciari
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #13 on: 01/07/14, 09:26 AM »

You just need to change your transportation strategy next time - maybe something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EG7kLjpzsM


It's funny that you said that. We all actually joked about how having ice skates would have been much more appropriate. lesson learned!
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I love skiing in a tutu. Find me via #tutusallyear.
Chamois
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #14 on: 01/07/14, 09:46 AM »

It's not an adventure unless the outcome is uncertain. Wink
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dpforestry
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #15 on: 01/07/14, 10:31 AM »

Great TR, thanks, K! 

Despite the unanticipated 8 miles, 3,500 ft gain, and neverending ice, the company on this trip was 5 star, and I would totally do it again...with um, a few minor adjustments (i.e. steel crampons, microspikes, and mountaineering boots!)

I also posted a summary on Cascade Climbers with some additional trip info: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1118582#Post1118582
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dpforestry
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #16 on: 01/07/14, 10:35 AM »

*Correction: 1,400 ft added (not 3,500!).
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Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #17 on: 01/07/14, 11:11 AM »

nice trip, thanks for the condition update, ice skates in order
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Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
Roger Strong
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #18 on: 01/07/14, 09:13 PM »

Kristina!  what a wonderful trip report and adventure...thanks for sharing and reminding me of how i still appreciate getting worked with the questionable outcome...i love your spirit and ability to thrive outside of your comfort zone!
thanks to whoever posted the High Sierra skate video...simple, playful and unique...
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MW88888888
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #19 on: 01/08/14, 09:02 PM »

Wow, now that was an impressive show of willpower.  You would have thought conditions would have improved somewhere over those 18 miles!  I think the forest shot with the crampon pokes is absolutely hilarious.
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Bronco
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #20 on: 01/09/14, 09:13 AM »

Looks terrible, great job!

All PNW climber/skiers should have a tale of woe about a trip to Colchuck lake in the winter.  I remember a cold wet bivi below the lake with a broken binding but at least we were able to skin some despite giving up on our climbing objective.  The conditions you experienced had the most potential for being demoralizing that I've seen, highly impressive! Wink
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kciari
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #21 on: 01/09/14, 10:11 AM »

Wow thanks for the show of support everyone! I never imagined our little sufferfest would garner such a huge response and outpouring of support. I am honored to join the crew of hearty PNW climber/skiers who test their willpower with a trip to Colchuck Lake. Next time IT WILL BE MINE!

If you're interested, I made all of my photos publicly viewable on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10102697219397608.1073741856.10713297&type=1&l=32fdb66429
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I love skiing in a tutu. Find me via #tutusallyear.
Garth_Ferber
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Re: January 4-5, Colchuck Glacier, Mini Epic
« Reply #22 on: 01/09/14, 11:12 AM »

I cannot stop myself from adding...WOW...HOLY MOLY...
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