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| | |-+  May 10, North Cascades, Birthday Tour Corn
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Author Topic: May 10, North Cascades, Birthday Tour Corn  (Read 1864 times)

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May 10, North Cascades, Birthday Tour Corn
« on: 05/11/15, 04:33 PM »

I love wearing my tutu in zee mountains, and since Helens looked like it was going to be a bust, I opted to take my tutu on a little Birthday Tour to celebrate instead. It just so happens my birthday is this week also, so I thought it especially fitting.

I've done a lot of climbing along Highway 20, but this was my first time skiing up there and it exceeded expectations. Leaving Seattle at 5:30am, Jordan and I arrived at the blue lake trailhead at 8:45am (with two quick stops en route). We met our friend Stephen there, and by the time we geared up and did the car shuttle it was 9:30am.

We followed a well-trodden skin track through the forest from the trailhead out of the trees. A few spicy creek crossings and we were at the base of blue creek col in well under two hours. Skinning conditions were good, no need for ski crampons, but definitely what I would consider "varsity level" skinning with steep kick-turns and precarious positions. We saw some beginners out there - including a woman in downhill boots - and they have my utmost respect!

Below the cornice, we transitioned to booting up the left side to the blue creek col. About 3/4 of the way to the top my party of three - I was in the middle - was stopped just 50' short of cresting the col by an angry-looking mountain goat, who was pacing back and forth. He kept leering over the cornice, daring us to continue and threatening if we did so. Properly scared of mountain goats, we froze where we were, precariously perched on a steep slope with sketchy rock to our left and equally sketchy, steep snow under the cornice to our right.

Ten minutes into our standoff one of the adult goats crossed down into our path 20' above, but continued trending left onto the rocks and out of the way. I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest! "I don't want to be gored on my birthday week!", I thought. Stephen was equally terrified. Then we saw a baby goat and knew what's what. Mama bear was mad and we were to stay right where we were.

But, thankfully after 20 minutes we were able to proceed (cautiously) to the top, where we could see the goat family a safe distance away. A number of other skiers/boarders had caught us at this point, and we all quickly transitioned on the ridge to ski down 'Madison Avenue' into the Copper Creek Drainage.

Let's talk about perfect spring corn for a moment. Madison Ave had it in spades, and for a solid 1,200' until it became a little swampy. Near the drainage we started trending skiers left and had one spicy section where we just barely made it over a rocky section. I'll be surprised if it was still intact by the end of the day. But overall, seriously, this stuff was amazing.

After the rock crossing, we opted to ski down fall line and have lunch to enjoy our last 300' of vert instead of trying to stay high on the traverse towards Copper Mountain to save ourselves 100' of skinning. I recommend this choice, as fall line is always > traverse line.

After a delicious lunch + beer amongst the conifers, our lethargy got the best of us and we opted out of the Copper Mountain summit in favor of more relaxed fare. I should note it was sweltering - nearing on 80-degrees - so sunblock was a must as was the application of snowballs to the top of the head. Once again skinning was pleasant and straight forward, and we made it to Copper Col in reasonable time. A quick transition and we were on our way down into bowl skier's left of Kangaroo Pass. I can see why this area is known as a pow stash, as I really had like 8" of fresh corn to charge through. Super fun and playful stuff!

Now it was time for my least favorite part - adventure skinning down to the hairpin where we'd parked a car. Navigation was straightforward enough, continuing to trend as left as possible. We crossed two major avy paths with recent activity covered in debris but didn't see anything moving. Once we hit tree-line we were met with polarbear-sized tree-well and rock-well holes, so be on the look out as you fly through the forest. Once we got lower the snow got quite sticky too.

With a few pole plants to carry me through, we ended right at the door of the car full of flip flops and fresh beer. It was only then that we realized the keys to this truck were in the van....back at Blue Lake. I tried to show a little leg, but even the tutu wasn't enticing enough in the Methow apparently. We were about to give up and walk for it when an over-excited man in a truck almost careened into us to offer a ride. Thanks cowboy hat man! Glad my ridiculous outfit convinced you to pull over!

Critical Beta:
-If you're heading up soon, be aware of thin coverage over running water. I wouldn't be surprised if the existing skin track doesn't go anymore.
-Try not to pee in critical transition spots. More pee = more angry mountain goats.
-We didn't see any active slides, but there was certainly lots of evidence of recent activity. Be aware that zee mountains haven't gone through their "spring shed" yet, so you can expect to see lots of activity as the weather changes.
-Be careful crossing fields of debris - some of those snow/ice blocks will bite you!
-When doing a car shuttle always remember to bring your keys *with you*. Or, you know, just do that always. It's a good idea.

Fantastic day with good conditions and better company. Thanks Stephen for leading the way, and Jordan for rescuing the beers trapped in the truck! And the tutu struck again when my friend Jonn-E recognized me and we shared some more beers. Thanks for the Montucky my friend! And shout out to Monty too - I love TAY and that we can know each other before we ever meet. Thanks for saying hi!

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* may10birthdaytour2015.2.JPG (74.73 KB, 480x640 - viewed 665 times.)

I love skiing in a tutu. Find me via #tutusallyear.
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