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| |-+  December 2015 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  Dec 20, 2015, McCausland via Smithbrook
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Author Topic: Dec 20, 2015, McCausland via Smithbrook  (Read 1697 times)
radka
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Dec 20, 2015, McCausland via Smithbrook
« on: 12/20/15, 07:41 PM »

Trip report by Chris
Photos by Radka


We left the Smithbrook trailhead around 9am and 26-degree temperature. After an hour and half of exciting road slogging, we reached the hairpin turn below Union Gap. Once again our hopes of finding an existing skin track were crushed. We left the road here and continued up to the gap between Lichtenburg and McCausland, east of Lake Valhalla, where the PCT is. The trail breaking was quite brutal, taking about 2 hours to gain the saddle. The snow pack has thickened quite a bit since last weekend and snow quality is not the typical heavy concrete. Some creek crossings are still problematic but travelling along them eventually yielded a way across.


Kenji at work




Crown going all across the slope



Japanese gymnastics



There was a light wind at the saddle and intermittent blue skies. A very brief rainbow was seen but too elusive to capture on photo. We left the saddle shortly after 1pm and gained the summit by 2pm. We had good light briefly on the summit then the light got flat. We decided against our initial objective of skiing a NW facing line down to Rapid River given the time of day and amount of trail breaking back to Union Gap. Instead, we skied NE aspect down to Dove Lake, stopping just short of it at ~4700.


Kenji got new, colorful attire after my several years of nagging







Soft light on the summit




Chris visited the white room









We discussed skiing further down to Rapid River then skinning up to Union Gap or re-gaining the E Ridge of McCausland at 5400 and re-tracing our skin track. We went with the later and it was a rather brutal exit given all the flat terrain, deep, fresh snow, and various creek crossings in the upper meadows. In hindsight, I would have chosen the skiers left traverse paralleling the PCT to re-gain the Smithbrook road from the E Ridge of McCausland.

We made it back to the road well after sunset, around 5:30. We passed a pair of folks camping out for the night with their dog, then enjoyed the smooth coasting back down the road, arriving at the car at 6pm with a 31-degree temperature.
During the day, we observed some shallow crowns on steep NE aspects. The new storm snow was well bonded to previous snow and had not seen a ton of wind affect, even along the ridge.
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mbravenboer
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Re: Dec 20, 2015, McCausland via Smithbrook
« Reply #1 on: 12/20/15, 07:56 PM »

Wonderful photos, particularly at the summit!

It looks like you missed the track I worked on so hard on Saturday! (or you don't care about snowshoe tracks to the extent that you didn't even mention it Wink ). I posted a report on nwhikers for that attempt, which failed.
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radka
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Re: Dec 20, 2015, McCausland via Smithbrook
« Reply #2 on: 12/20/15, 08:06 PM »

Hello, mbravenboer! Actually, it was your trip report on NWHikers that inspired us to post ours here. We did see your snowshoe track, but it seemed to be following the PCT and we chose a different strategery (staying at valley bottom initially, following the creek) so we didn't follow it. Chris did inspect it, though. We just posted a response on NwHikers.
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mbravenboer
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Re: Dec 20, 2015, McCausland via Smithbrook
« Reply #3 on: 12/20/15, 08:19 PM »

We did see your snowshoe track, but it seemed to be following the PCT and we chose a different strategery (staying at valley bottom initially, following the creek) so we didn't follow it.
Ah, yes, I climbed up first to 4500ft and then took the shortcut to the PCT. Before I realized what a mess the snow was, I was thinking about taking your route back. I'm glad your group made it!
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radka
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Re: Dec 20, 2015, McCausland via Smithbrook
« Reply #4 on: 12/20/15, 08:29 PM »

Our route back was a mess (Chris calls it "brutal") so I wouldn't recommend it.
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