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| |-+  January 2014 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  January 23, 2014, Meany Lodge to Hyak
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Author Topic: January 23, 2014, Meany Lodge to Hyak  (Read 5541 times)

Posts: 3

January 23, 2014, Meany Lodge to Hyak
« on: 01/25/14, 06:13 PM »

On January 23rd, Nigel and I attempted the patrol route in reverse on splitboards.† After a prearranged ride into Meany, we got a late start around 8:15.† We skinned up bulletproof snow along the rope tow to the power lines and FS 41.† Once the road descended down into the creek drainage and started to turn northward, we peeled off and started heading southwest on a trail that runs underneath the power lines.† This took us back into clear cut.

From here we continued southwest along the clear cut to the PCT.† Nigel had scouted a few other routes previously and wanted to see how conditions would be on the Crest Trail.†

Nigel heading from clear cut into the PCT

We followed the PCT to Stampede Pass (race checkpoint #2), split skiing and skinning on nasty, pitted rain crust and snowmobile tracks the entire way.† We continued along the PCT through Baldy Pass into the Dandy Creek drainage and onto FS 5484. We then followed FS 5484 down to Stirrup Creek/Meadow Creek and the intersection with FS 5483.† On the descent from Baldy Pass to Stirrup Creek, we alternated a couple of times from skinning to skating with skins off.† Nigel was making good time but I was decidedly much less efficient!† It wasnít until the final 400 feet or so of descent into Stirrup Creek that we did a full transition and rode our snowboards for the first time.

After a quick lunch break, we transitioned back and tried to make up time while skinning the mellow 2-1/2 miles of FS 5483 up to the gravel pit at 4200 ft. (race checkpoint #1).† Just south of the gravel pit, where the road starts to turn northward, we split off of the road and headed due west through some old growth until we were back on the Crest Trail again.† At this point, I transitioned to snowboard and Nigel removed his skins for the descent down into Twighlight Lake and Yakima Pass.† We were firmly on edges most of the way down and this section seems like it would be a difficult side hill climb if youíre on anything but narrow skis.†

Leaving Yakima Pass

From here, we continued along the PCT until we broke through at Mirror Lake and took a slight shortcut across its outer perimeter.† On the northeast corner of Mirror Lake, we turned into the woods and converged on the intersection of the PCT and Mirror Lake Trail.

Nigel on Mirror Lake

Skinning up to Tinkham Pass, Nigel and I both used splitboard crampons.† At this point we spotted Lowell and Brandonís tracks from the 18th. Following the Crest Trail along the northern flank of Tinkham Peak, we ran across a couple of ďno fallĒ zones where a slip would be potentially fatal.† On the open slope between Tinkham and Silver Peak, I changed into boot crampons and pulled out my ice axe.†

I had enough side-hilling at this point

I left boot crampons on for a while along the first section of Silver Peak trail and spent quite a bit less energy getting around than Nigel did using his split crampons.† My crampons were barely making dents in the boilerplate and conditions were still just as bad as Lowell described them from his tour.

Nigel split-floundering

On the long, relatively straight descent down Silver Peak, we attempted to ride as much as possible but had to boot pack and carry boards often, especially when we ran into creek crossings and deep runnels.† At this point, darkness had set in and we were navigating with headlamps.† We had decided earlier to bail out at Windy Pass and followed the trail to the Mt. Catherine Loop where there just happened to be a groomer running!†

After a quick talk with the driver, Skip, we transitioned and rode down glorious untouched corduroy by headlamp light until the road flattened out.† From here we skated and hiked the final portion of the cross-country trails until we reached Hyak Dr. and eventually SR 906.† After a couple of hard earned tall boys, my wife picked us up on the side of the road around 7:30.†

Weíd done a good portion of the route and nearly 19 miles overall in about 11 hours including some minor equipment problems (broken pole; no surprise to anyone that knows me) and a head first crash into a tree while riding (luckily I was wearing a helmet).† The final 5-1/2 miles of our trip were very easy however and weren't at all representative of the first portion of the historical route.

We definitely did not have the lightest or most efficient setups for this particular tour.† Our goal then and going into the race isnít to win but simply to complete the route in a respectable time on splitboards.† Regardless of your gear of choice, crampons, either boot or ski, are going to be an absolute necessity.† †I brought both on this tour since I wasnít sure what to expect but Iíll likely only bring boot crampons for the race.† Likewise, Iím also going to bring along an ice axe again for peace of mind.
« Last Edit: 01/25/14, 08:00 PM by steve_m » Logged

Posts: 2065

Re: January 23, 2014, Meany Lodge to Hyak
« Reply #1 on: 01/25/14, 07:31 PM »

Strong work guys. Especially with splitboards.

Narrow skis make a big difference when traversing hard snow. Brandon and I were on 65mm-underfoot skis. With ski crampons you can be pretty comfortable on skis that narrow. Still, having whippets, an ice axe, or even boot crampons is a good idea on the Silver Peak trail right now.

You really have to respect the old-timers who raced that route in the 1930s on leather boots and wooden skis.

The route is not a gimme, particularly around Silver and Tinkham Peaks.

(Does anyone know the trick for linking to photos on flickr?)
« Last Edit: 01/25/14, 07:34 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged

Posts: 3

Re: January 23, 2014, Meany Lodge to Hyak
« Reply #2 on: 01/25/14, 07:59 PM »

Thanks Lowell, we relied heavily on your previous report(s) for preparation.

Nigel and I were both in awe of the old-timers once we hit the 5-hour mark and realized how much farther there was to go.

Sorry about the links to Flickr, it's a hassle to get the URL but I think I have all of them corrected now.

Posts: 2434

Re: January 23, 2014, Meany Lodge to Hyak
« Reply #3 on: 01/26/14, 08:04 AM »

Wow, great effort.  Sounds like rough conditions.  Hope we get at least a smattering of new snow before the race.

Flickr hides their URLs pretty well, for sure.  I should probably add a Flickr-specific section to the photo instructions.

Posts: 93

Re: January 23, 2014, Meany Lodge to Hyak
« Reply #4 on: 01/27/14, 09:22 PM »

Looking forward to being "IN" the race in a couple of weeks.  Also stoked that we are going to start getting some typical winter weather.  Hope we get a decent bond to that very firm and hard crust out there...  Enjoyed your report.
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