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| | |-+  June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
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Author Topic: June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20  (Read 4174 times)
Bryan_B
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June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
« on: 06/13/14, 01:24 PM »

Starting Friday, June 6, JackB and I skied from Cascade Pass to Highway 20 linking Sahale, Forbidden and Isolation traverses. The trip took us a total of five and a half days, including one layover day to rest and recover.

We left Cascade Pass TH on Friday, June 6, at 8:00 p.m., and after a short schwack through the slide alder, we were able to ski the entire way up to the pass where we camped for the night. Temps were probably in the high 30's with clear skies and calm winds.

On Saturday morning (June 7th), we enjoyed a pleasant climb up Sahale under mostly clear skies with calm winds. Climbing Sahale Arm:



We followed a party of three to the top of Sahale. We were able to climb a snow finger on the east side to access the summit. From the top, we descended to the Boston Col. Because of the cornices on the Boston side, we chose to rappel, but a party of five that was kind enough to let us pass on our way down was able to safely climb un-roped to the summit from the Boston side. From the Boston / Sahale Col, we skied down and made camp just below Sharkfin Col.

On Sunday morning (June 8th), we climbed up and over Sharkfin Col. The bergschrund at the bottom of the couloir was easy to negotiate, but the top is mostly melted out. Dealing with the crappy rock and rotten snow and ice took us longer than expected.

Rappelling down onto the Boston Glacier:



Crossing the Boston Glacier:



Finding the crossing to the Forbidden Glacier was not difficult. The snow leading up to the crossing is still in good shape. We enjoyed great corn skiing most of the way down the Forbidden Glacier. The north option (through the trees) to reach Moraine Lake is melted out. We were able to connect snow ramps beneath the icefall, keeping our skis on most of the way down to the lake.

Skiing Forbidden:



Moraine Lake is still mostly frozen. Crossing Moraine Lake (you can see the one line -- right hand side of the photo -- allowing access to the lake):



From Moraine Lake, we climbed north-facing slopes to access the Inspiration Glacier. The south-facing climb is melted out. As we reached the Inspiration plateau below Eldorado, the wind picked up and clouds rolled in. We skied down to the Eldorado / Inspiration divide and made camp near the large wind scoops in hopes of getting out of the wind. They offered some protection. Sorta.

Despite the great skiing and climbing for the day, our spirits were kind of low Sunday night. The weather seemed to be closing in, and Jack got sick. He wrapped himself up in his sleeping bag looking pale and went to bed without any supper. I jotted down some bearings and elevations in case of white out conditions Monday and then went to sleep myself.

Monday (June 9th) was cloudy most of the day. We slept in late and decided to ski across to the Tepeh Towers and make camp. We spent most of the day resting. Jack felt better. We made two hot meals, drank a lot of water, hoped for the weather to break, and wrote out detailed elevations and bearings in case it didn't.

Tuesday (June 10th) was challenging. We woke at 4:30. It had been very windy overnight and the temperature had dropped significantly. Breaking camp, the clouds lifted just long enough to get a good look across the McAllister valley. Then it closed in again. The McAllister Glacier was more broken up than we anticipated. We made our way very slowly in low visibility. We climbed first to the 8400' crossing, but since we were unable to see down the other side, we descended to the lower crossing. Snow bridges there are still firm, and the moat is no problem crossing. At that point, it started to snow. Also, oddly, the earthy smell of cow manure blew up from the Skagit Valley.

Crossing north of Dorado Needle:



We traversed Backbone Ridge in a total whiteout. A rocky rib about halfway across the ridge forced us down to 6100' and confused us, but we were able to climb back up to about 6600' and use the ridge as a hand rail around to the Coccyx.

Traversing Backbone Ridge:



The snow switched over to rain as we dropped over into the Newhalem Creek drainage. We also picked up some skin track, bread crumb-like, which we followed up to Icy-lation Couloir. The Couloir, despite the low visibility and damp conditions, skied nicely. Also, interestingly, we came across some up-track, leading us to wonder if someone was connecting the Isolation and Ptarmagin traverses. Anyone know about this?

Initially, we'd hoped to camp north of Isolation Tuesday night, but the difficult navigation and wet conditions slowed us down. We camped just above Wilcox Lake. Despite the difficult navigating and saturating conditions, we remained in good spirits. We were happy to be at a low camp out of the wind. The light rain kept up and we watched the mist swirl in and out of the valley. We decided if we got a weather window Wednesday, we’d push as hard as we could to finish.    

Wednesday (June 11th) we woke up to more of the same: damp low clouds and little visibility. We picked our way slowly along the ridge leading to Isolation Peak, picking up an old skin track only to lose it moments later. At 6000', we broke out of the low clouds. Spirits lifted, we put the hammer down -- up and over Isolation, up to the Horseman / Snowfield Peak Col, down the Neve, up to the the Colonial, and around Pyramid. Skiing down the Neve was great -- high speed corn in full sun. This last day made the whole trip.

Some pictures:

Looking over the McAllister Valley from Isolation Peak:



High spirits crossing onto the Neve:



Colonial Glacier:



Looking out toward Diablo:



Happy to be on the Pyramid Lake trail after a class-A bushwack:



The final crux was whether the truck would start. It did, but unfortunately Que Car BBQ in Marblemount was closed, so we had to settle for Cheese Nips and chocolate milk from the Shell station next door.

Thanks for reading.

Fin:

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GregSimon
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Posts: 130


Re: June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
« Reply #1 on: 06/13/14, 03:25 PM »

Awesome.  Especially the detail of the cow manure smell.  Shouldn't this site support scratch-n-sniff trip reports?
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cprahl
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Posts: 38


Re: June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
« Reply #2 on: 06/13/14, 03:43 PM »

So good it makes my feet hurt! Backbone by brail must have been interesting. Love the shot from top of Isolation Pk with valley fog below ski boot level. Great trip!
« Last Edit: 06/13/14, 09:29 PM by cprahl » Logged
rlsg
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Posts: 516


Re: June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
« Reply #3 on: 06/13/14, 08:34 PM »

WOW-What a journey--very inspiring and impressive (great write-up and pics too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
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Lowell_Skoog
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WWW
Re: June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
« Reply #4 on: 06/13/14, 10:40 PM »

Great story. Persevering through the bad weather to see it all clear out must have been awesome. A great climax to the trip.
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jtack
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Posts: 665


Re: June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
« Reply #5 on: 06/14/14, 07:33 AM »

Great trip, plenty of challenge, must be a great feeling to overcome them and finish such a big project. Nice pictures too, thanks.
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JimD
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WWW
Re: June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
« Reply #6 on: 06/15/14, 08:34 AM »

Thanks for the TR, very inspiring, esp. working through the weather. Goodunonya!
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Bryan_B
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Posts: 17


Re: June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
« Reply #7 on: 06/15/14, 01:48 PM »

Thanks for the comments. Yes, seeing the clouds lift that last day was the highlight of the trip. In fact, I have a photo of the exact moment it happened. JackB got so excited, he somehow managed to  lose his balance and fall backward into a tree well. I made sure to snap a photo before helping him out. That's what partners are for.



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ND
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Posts: 113


Re: June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
« Reply #8 on: 06/16/14, 09:22 AM »

Nice TR, too bad que car closed, I might have been reduced to tears were I in that position. 
The tree well picture nearly made me spit my coffee in to the keyboard!
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danpeck
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Posts: 504


Re: June 6-11, 2014, Cascade Pass to Highway 20
« Reply #9 on: 06/16/14, 11:12 AM »

Sweet story!  Awesome area.  I had that same experience on backbone ridge last year.  Stressful indeed.  I could feel your excitement when the clouds lifted… nothing like it.  I'm jealous of the views you got off of Isolation which I have yet to enjoy as our whiteout took us through the neve glacier.

I like the Sahale Summit variation.

Thanks for sharing.
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