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| | |-+  July 26 - Ohanepecosh Galcier - Pushing the limits
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Author Topic: July 26 - Ohanepecosh Galcier - Pushing the limits  (Read 2732 times)
Don Heath
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Posts: 825


July 26 - Ohanepecosh Galcier - Pushing the limits
« on: 07/27/14, 07:42 PM »

My son Ben has caught the mountain fever, for which I feel honored to have been a part of.  And he has become a fabulous co-dependant with me in this strange addiction.  My wife grants me much leniency for these trips when Ben is along.  If I had a bevy of girl friends like Silas - no way!  I don't know how Silas doesn't get his mail delivered to the doghouse.  I would.

The east flanks of Rainier, and really, anything beyond the secrecy shrouded "stash", have always been a mystery to me.  Our tour familiarized us with a lot of names that I've heard, but it means so much more when you touch them.  Pan Handle Gap, Meany Crest, Whitman Crest, Frying Pan Glacier, Ohanepecosh.  We didn't touch them all, but now I've seen them. 

It would be nice if there were some summer ski destinations where you could sneak in and out, without any comments, snide or otherwise, but Summerland isn't that place.  Before we even shouldered our packs a motorist stopped to inform us that there was no snow anywhere until Panhandle Gap.  As if 5 miles and 2500 vertical feet would deter us.  Ha!  Bring it on! As far as cutting remarks go - it was at least accurate - even if delivered in a "you idiots" tone.

After many incredulous comments, plus a few excited ones, and one or two encouraging ones ("What a great idea!) we arrived at Pan Handle Gap.  We met a Ranger, who seemed overly curious about where we were aiming (we didn't have a clue ;-) and not a little discouraging.  Just doing her job, she made sure we were aware that we should not be tromping any fragile vegetation, and I think at least 4 times told us to be safe, because they've had too many rescue and recoveries this year.  And then finally we were up over the gap, and headed West-ish.

The short story here is if you need turns and don't mind the circus, you can yo-yo short laps on the north side of PHG.  The wild flowers are just about spectacular - maybe a week away.  There are some snow fingers on the south side of the gap that will be gone really soon.  It's an easy 1/4 mile walk to some 500 ft slopes with moderate rollovers that look like they'll go for awhile.  But we were drawn by the vision of loveliness farther west. 

As soon as we hit snow, we began skiining towards the slopes in a fool's universe - "I think this one will go.." only to run out of snow, scramble through some scree to the next one "that definitely goes - I saw it connect.."

Just before the big cliff band below the Ohanepecosh we did find our ramp to the upper slopes.  We only had to bump our turn around time twice to get there, along with some mental gymnastics about how fast we could hike out, what time was sunset, what is the meaning of "dark" anyway?  Philosophizing on the value of headlamps.  We both forgot them.  Like father like son.

We reached Whitman Crest's ridge about 5, probably about 500 ft below the high point of the crest, but I was cooked. I had reached my limit.  And a third change to our turn around time was out of the question.  So we transitioned and whooped our way back down the rollovers, skiing almost to the cliff bands, before hiking back up to our entrance ramp, and skiing some tight, challenging strips back down to the trail.

The hike out was really beautiful, we relished the couple hundred bumpy feet below the gap, back to the Summerland trail, and the wild flowers in the golden sunset light were spectacular!  I had just enough energy in reserve at the parking lot in the dark, to slam three beers - two past my limit.  But limits are meant to be bumped, right?


* Ben__Dons_Epic_170852_Small.jpg (75.14 KB, 640x480 - viewed 987 times.)

* Ben__Dons_Epic_193326_Small.jpg (138.06 KB, 640x480 - viewed 991 times.)

* Ben__Dons_Epic_-Tagging_the_Frying_Pan_July_26_Small.JPG (153.18 KB, 640x480 - viewed 1019 times.)
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The best part of summer skiing is napping on a warm rock.
Don Heath
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Posts: 825


Re: July 26 - Ohanepecosh Galcier - Pushing the limits
« Reply #1 on: 07/27/14, 07:58 PM »

One more picture - The Vision of Loveliness - Ben skied from the far upper right, me the next step down.


* Ben__Dons_Vision_of_Loveliness.jpg (258.79 KB, 1000x799 - viewed 995 times.)
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The best part of summer skiing is napping on a warm rock.
r1de
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Posts: 259


Re: July 26 - Ohanepecosh Galcier - Pushing the limits
« Reply #2 on: 07/27/14, 08:02 PM »

Awesome post. Great to hear that Ben is your touring sidekick. Would love to join you guys on a(nother) tour in the future!
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-bp
jtack
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Posts: 665


Re: July 26 - Ohanepecosh Galcier - Pushing the limits
« Reply #3 on: 07/29/14, 07:55 PM »

Wonderful! that sounded like a great trip, thanks for the post, and pictures!
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