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| | |-+  Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
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Author Topic: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab  (Read 3840 times)
radka
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Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« on: 12/28/15, 12:03 PM »

The Jim Hell Project, Part 1

Report by Chris
Photos by Radka


With Christmas and several days off, we planned to check out Jim Hill and the Lanham Lakes area. Unfortunately, Stevens Pass closed on Christmas Eve. So we arrived on Christmas Day to the Nordic Center and a virtually empty parking lot. Leaving our car at about 9am, we quickly found the trail for backcountry access but no one had been on it yet since the new snow fell. Well, here we go, more trail breaking.

I am smiling because you're spellings is badder then mine! William Webster will be notified. #ObnoxiousCzechPeople


I learned Engrish from da chipmunks! #ObnoxiousCzechPeople2


The trail was easy enough to follow with the combination of signs, tape, and evidence of a previous skin track. The new snow was deep and it took us about 2 hours to reach Lanham Lake. We stopped here for lunch then left around 11:30am with pockets of blue sky already appearing. Our main objective for the rest of the day was to put a skin track in to the ridge separating Lanham Lake and Henry Creek.

Lanham Lake


We only knew two things about this approach. The first, which is mentioned in at least 5 places, that it is the preferred approach. The second, from a friend who was guided up, that it’s about 100 kick-turns to the ridge. The first couple hundred feet from the lake had us wondering about the latter. But soon enough, we hit ever steepening terrain, ever thickening trees, and ever deepening snow. Many a tree well was sworn and cursed at. Various trees were inadvertently kicked during turns, then yelled at for being poorly positioned. We wondered if anyone would follow this skin track, and if so, we would really feel sorry for them. The name “Jim Hell” started to make more sense. The 4900’ – 5100’ band really tested our sanity. 40 minutes to get through this part. Eff you tree well!

We persisted, our heads are hard and perhaps a bit noodly at this point, and finally made the ridge, slightly south of the saddle, around 2:30pm. Behold, the promised land.











We skinned a bit further up to about 5800’ then decided to ski down the Henry Creek drainage around 3pm.
We got 6-8 sweet turns. For every hour of effort, 1 turn was rewarded.





The rest of the ski down to the basin was a lot of exploring. There are plenty of creeks, cliffs, slide alder, and waterfalls to negotiate. Portions of the creeks are especially scary, as some have 10’+ holes in the middle of them, and are not seen until you almost ski into them. We ended up in the bottom of the basin, taking a skier’s right descent of the waterfalls. We decided to put skins on and cross Henry Creek, keeping it as a hand-line to our right. Soon after I noticed I had lost our GPS. Apparently some slide alder MF’er decided to keep it.



Under headlamp, we soon reached the first clear cut encountered as climbing up the road from the DoT wind tunnel station. It was well filled in now, a stark contract to our previous tour up Arrowhead only 2 weeks ago. The glade skiing here is quite fun and the snow was still light and fluffy, but certainly heavier. No one had come up the road that day, so even the final descent down it forced us to break trail. I walked back to the Nordic Center, grabbed the car, then picked Radka up at 6pm.






The Jim Hell Project, Part 2

We put our packs, grabbed our coffee, and left the house. We laughed - another day at work. Once again the parking lot was nearly empty, but certainly more people were out than yesterday.

There will be a bunch of people today, you will see. We will get some help breaking trail! Yeah, right.



When we hit the trail, we were surprised, and a little concerned, because the skin track was now full of fresh ruts and potholes. Snowshoers. Damn the… I mean, bless their hearts. Fortunately, they turned around about 30 minutes in to the trail. Ahhh, a smooth skin track again, like a breath of fresh air, except the air wasn’t fresh because I couldn’t stop passing gas.





We made it to the lake in an hour. Wow, what a difference a skin track makes. So far the high pressure-blue sky day wasn’t materializing. After a quick snack we started up the skin track that a previous party had put in the day before. Sweet, this is going to be easy! Well, it was easy, at least for a little while. What the heck, did the people who put this in love kick turns? Wow, I mean, people just buy a pair of Dynafits now, take a 4-hour clinic, and suddenly they think they are “backcountry” skiers and can go where ever they want? This skin track was terrible. Unbelievable. Kicks turns above tree wells? W.T.F! I hoped we would catch up to whoever put this thing in because I had some unsolicited advice I needed to give them.

This skin track blows! Who did this?!



I'm having a deja vu here. I could swear we went up the EXACT same hill just yesterday...



Are you skinning or chopping trees? 'Cos I can't really tell...


We made our previous turn around point at 12:20pm. Wow, 2 hours and 40 minutes sooner than the previous day. Breaking trail really slows tempo down! We had lunch then realized we had a problem. Yep, we had to break more trail, apparently the people from the day before hadn’t gone any higher. Come on people.




The octopus tree






















We topped out at the col between the false and true summit. The final summit ridge looked a bit more involved than we’d thought it would be. The rewards were enough at the col – views southeast of the Chiwaukum Range and the Stuart Range. At the col we also encountered our first experience with wind in the past 2 days, a steady and cool breeze. We started our descent at 2pm, again in to the Henry Creek drainage in hopes of stumbling upon our lost GPS.


The Big Chiwaukum aka Chewbakum





The summit. Not today.


















The snowpack was very stable. The only observation made was that skin tracks become rabbit highways at night. We enjoyed the great skiing down the NE slopes before getting in to the thick of Henry Creek drainage and re-tracing our descent route to bottom of the basin. Sadly, and unsurprisingly, we did not find our GPS. We only skinned a short distance across the basin this time, then skied back to the DoT wind tunnel again, and walked back to the Nordic Center, a half hour ahead of yesterday’s schedule.





The nest day we did some tree skiing at Smithbrook. It was great, but we had to break trail all day again!


This is the ugliest skintrack I have ever seen. I shall eat you now! - The tree well monster






More pictures https://radkaandchris.smugmug.com/Skiing/2015/The-Jim-Hell-Project-aka-Jimmy-J
« Last Edit: 12/28/15, 12:10 PM by radka » Logged
ron j
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #1 on: 12/28/15, 12:13 PM »

Awesome Pictures as usual, Radka.
Great TR.
Keep it up.
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natefred
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #2 on: 12/28/15, 01:45 PM »

Entertaining read, thx!
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Pete A
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #3 on: 12/28/15, 02:08 PM »

good idea heading back to reuse a hard-earned skin track!  great write-up and pics as always
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savegondor
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #4 on: 12/28/15, 03:40 PM »

awesome effort!  still on my bucket list.  I have approached from the Henry Creek Side and did not find it that difficult....just seemed rather exposed approaching the saddle.  At lower elevations it seemed to work to stay 100 yards or more west of the creek.   I made the saddle and found barely breakable crust.  wasn't skiable.  to breakable to stay on top, the inch crust was not breakable enough to pound through...usually just broke through half way through an attempted turn.  The tree skiing was superb though since a cold-air inversion and trees conspired to keep the  freezing rain that hit the top of the mountain from hitting the lower 2/3. 

I'm guessing i hit it with more snowpack.  Alder wasn't that bad. 
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savegondor
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #5 on: 12/28/15, 03:47 PM »

So you skied up Lehman lake side and down Henry?  I'm confused.  or did you go up from Lehman to the ridge and then up?  if so I found going strait up near Henry creek an easier up.  If you can avoid the alder lower down the upper sections have ways that don't involve tight trees.  But you'd know that if you skied down Henry side. 

route:

Jim Hell
« Last Edit: 12/28/15, 03:53 PM by savegondor » Logged
Chuck C
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #6 on: 12/28/15, 03:49 PM »


#ObnoxiousCzechPeople

Careful there....
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cchapin
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #7 on: 12/28/15, 04:43 PM »

So you skied up Lehman lake side and down Henry?  I'm confused.  or did you go up from Lehman to the ridge and then up?  if so I found going strait up near Henry creek an easier up.  If you can avoid the alder lower down the upper sections have ways that don't involve tight trees.  But you'd know that if you skied down Henry side. 

route:

Jim Hell
Up Lanham Lake to the ~5500' saddle and down Henry Creek.

Yeah, might be easier the other way around. We found more recommendations for the Lanham Lake approach and went with that. I suppose if I went back I'd go whichever way had an existing skin track Smiley
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radka
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #8 on: 12/28/15, 04:45 PM »

Savegondor - we went up the Henry Creek side in April 2014 with Kenji et al. and it was ok, but there was a lot more snow then. All the little trees and almost all of the slide alder was covered at that time. BUT - an avalanche came down and across our skin track while we were higher up. A little scary:



Right now, Henry Creek is a mess and I would say going up that side would be very annoying, as in fighting slide alder going uphill is harder than fighting it downhill. Once we got into the forest, the exit was pretty straightforward.

It also seems that the bushes have grown. Whoever is fertilizing these bushes, please stop!

We did a loop - Chris just beat me to explaining the route.

« Last Edit: 12/28/15, 04:50 PM by radka » Logged
savegondor
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #9 on: 12/29/15, 07:22 AM »

sure would be fun to do some "thinning". 
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savegondor
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #10 on: 12/29/15, 07:23 AM »

that IS scary.  and is exactly the exposure I was talking about.

Savegondor - we went up the Henry Creek side in April 2014 with Kenji et al. and it was ok, but there was a lot more snow then. All the little trees and almost all of the slide alder was covered at that time. BUT - an avalanche came down and across our skin track while we were higher up. A little scary:



Right now, Henry Creek is a mess and I would say going up that side would be very annoying, as in fighting slide alder going uphill is harder than fighting it downhill. Once we got into the forest, the exit was pretty straightforward.

It also seems that the bushes have grown. Whoever is fertilizing these bushes, please stop!

We did a loop - Chris just beat me to explaining the route.


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radka
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #11 on: 12/29/15, 08:40 AM »

sure would be fun to do some "thinning". 

Hey, I already did my part for thinning  Grin



Maybe they will bloom before spring?

They are from the Henry Creek drainage, of course, so now we can look at them for the next two months on our kitchen table.

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aaron_wright
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #12 on: 12/29/15, 11:35 AM »

Savegondor - we went up the Henry Creek side in April 2014 with Kenji et al. and it was ok, but there was a lot more snow then. All the little trees and almost all of the slide alder was covered at that time. BUT - an avalanche came down and across our skin track while we were higher up. A little scary:



Right now, Henry Creek is a mess and I would say going up that side would be very annoying, as in fighting slide alder going uphill is harder than fighting it downhill. Once we got into the forest, the exit was pretty straightforward.

It also seems that the bushes have grown. Whoever is fertilizing these bushes, please stop!

We did a loop - Chris just beat me to explaining the route.


Same thing happened to us in that exact spot in March about 8-9 years ago. A little unnerving. There's a bench that you can just see in the bottom of the clearing in your photo, you can follow that on the west side of the creek all the way to the logging road. It's pretty easy with deeper coverage but more exposed on that side. My friends followed the logging road on the east side of the drainage one time and entered the upper basin on the east ridge to the summit, they said it was a safer feeling approach.
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kciari
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #13 on: 12/30/15, 08:32 AM »

Great TR and awesome photos as always. I tried this a few years ago when it was -3 and we turned around due to cold. After seeing all the work you put in, I feel like we made a solid call.
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Haugs
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #14 on: 12/30/15, 11:39 AM »

Great trip report!  I definitely followed most of your skin track up from Lanham Lake yesterday...thanks for putting in the work!  There were several "challenging" sections.  I think a track that's 100-200 yards north of yours will have a little easier time.  Awesome skiing down the bowl and back down to the lake!
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rippy
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Re: Dec 25-26, The Jim Hell Project aka Jimmy Jab
« Reply #15 on: 12/31/15, 12:55 PM »

Good choice and perseverance to the goal. The south end of Lanham lake and staying right was found to be our easiest up-climb. It's all steep but there are some better little lanes through the tree's & undulating features. We had a few "field trips" before jumping on an early start and getting to the col on a short winter day. I'm remembering the TUA Excalibers w/ Fritschi red n' whites now, whooaa.  Great report and pictures as always!
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