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NWAC Avalanche
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
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| |-+  September 2014 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  September 13, 2014, Russell & Flett Glaciers
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Author Topic: September 13, 2014, Russell & Flett Glaciers  (Read 5574 times)

Posts: 634

September 13, 2014, Russell & Flett Glaciers
« on: 09/15/14, 11:26 PM »

MNMike's report from a few days earlier, particularly a few frames of his video, convinced me that the Russell Glacier would still be worth the hike. I'd been up on Russell a couple months earlier, but had picked a poor weather day (lenticulars, nasty wind and poor viz) so didn't get the most out of the experience. Payback needed!

Willis Wall generating 'fridge door open' mist

This time took Knapsack in, regular trail out. 3 hrs hiking to bottom of the East lobe Flett. Had remembered my ski crampons but forgot my skins, doh! No matter though, was probably better to boot anyways. Only the top half inch was soft, and under that, often icy hard.

Texture on Flett not bad, small cups and runnels, way better than what I'd typically see over on Paradise Glacier this time of year. The new snow from about 10 days prior was not "new" anymore but had instead made a fairly clean white layer over much of the glacier. Sort of a sublimated mousse (with notable crystal texture to it) and a much better surface for climbing, skiing and aesthetics than the dirt firn would have been (or was, since some of glacier still had that).

Once gaining the Flett Russell moraine, a lot of the near side had bare ice and bumps/crevasses, but there was a narrow ribbon of same newish snow. And on the far side, substantial fields of it. So, climbed about to the normal crossing/traversing point but from there followed the line of better snow down onto the middle of lower glacier. Then for another lap went straight up from there and back down. Where there had been some cups on Flett, on the Russell there were nearly none. It was just a nice white clean and smooth surface. Easy and fast cruising on the lower angle apron. Some of the finest September turns I've had.

Looking up and down the lower Russell, on the far (east) side where the snow was nice

Didn't go all that high up the glacier (maybe to 8300?) but there didn't seem any advantage to go higher, as the areas with the cleaner snow were all on the lower part of the glacier. Higher part looked bumpy and dirty.

Just before crossing back to Flett, heard big rumble from Willis Wall. Impressive serac fall, with big white clouds billowing under. Would have been even cooler to have seen it before having been cued by the sound, because it was already 20 seconds underway by then. In the aftermath, the rock all along the slidepath was still thinly coated white from all the spindrift.

The lower Flett was also decent. Cups/spikes here more prominent so a little chatter, but still better than average conditions for September (and better than quite a few lower Flett skis I've had, again due to that little bit of 10 day old snow smoothing things out a bit). Possible to ski to ~6300ft with a couple of carries.

Didn't see any other skiers. Pleasingly warm all day, probably was 70 degrees at 7600 feet with negligible wind. Only minor mosquitos, in the evening on way down at treeline.

Ptarmigans. Saw a group of four, here are two of them. Already pretty far along toward changing to winter plumage

Posts: 564

Re: September 13, 2014, Russell & Flett Glaciers
« Reply #1 on: 09/16/14, 11:12 AM »

COOL!--thanks for the report.

Posts: 230

Re: September 13, 2014, Russell & Flett Glaciers
« Reply #2 on: 09/17/14, 07:54 AM »

Enjoyed the report. Nice job catching the north side serac fall!
ron j

Posts: 2600

Re: September 13, 2014, Russell & Flett Glaciers
« Reply #3 on: 09/17/14, 08:36 AM »

Nice TR, wolfs.
Quick camera work; I always miss those epic shots.

"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
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