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| | |-+  January 10, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park ONP
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Author Topic: January 10, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park ONP  (Read 1807 times)

Posts: 14

January 10, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park ONP
« on: 01/14/16, 09:30 PM »

The Hurricane Ridge - Deer Park traverse has been on our minds for quite some time, and a line of this quality and grandeur was sorely needed after our attempt at the North Couloir on Mt. Ellinor the previous day. Selecting perhaps the only rainy mountain in WA on Saturday, we checked the Hurricane Ridge webcams from our damp high point at 4600' to see nothing but blue skies and copious sun. After equally copious cursing and some surprisingly fun wet pow turns, the idea was aired... high pressure... the skin track was in (thanks Radka and Chris!)... the Deer Park road skied all the way... (thanks RonL!) We let the stoke simmer as we skied mank and rocks, and the plan was in motion by the time we strolled back to the Big Creek TH at the base of Ellinor.

We were looking at a tight timeline, expecting the tour to reasonably take us 10 hours, which meant we would have to finish the traverse in the dark. We timed the gate opening perfectly, rolling through the HR gate at 745am. We arrived at the visitor center just in time to catch sunrise, and Jordan and I started down the Obstruction Point Rd ahead of schedule at 845. After a quick ski (and some confidence-testing leg cramps, thanks to the previous day), we threw on skins and enjoyed a pleasant double-wide social skin track up to Eagle Peak. We were able to follow Chris and Radka's tracks the almost whole day, making route finding even simpler than expected (follow the ridge!), and the generally firm conditions on the ridge line allowed for fast skining. Along the way, we noted the abundance of surface hoar in sheltered areas. Big, loud crystals. We also noted the absolutely stunning views of the Olympic range! What a wealth of terrain, made even more splendid by the juxtaposition with the Straight to the north! As we moved beyond Eagle, the snow became much more wind/sun effected. Everything from windboard to boilerplate to rocks (the most challenging of snow conditions!). The ski crampons came out for the traverse on the NW side of Obstruction Point and remained on through most the traverse along Elk Ridge. We gained the Obstruction-Elk saddle in 3.5 hours, about 1.5 hours ahead of schedule. Coming up to the saddle, we saw our only signs of avy danger, getting a small whoomph and hairline crack while skinning the final, wind loaded pitch below the saddle. Otherwise, we saw only point releases on generally S aspects and old cornice debris. The skin along Elk ridge was uneventful, hard snow/ice softening just enough as the afternoon warmth set in (~40F by Jordan's anemometer!). We skied various thicknesses of windboard from the summit of Elk down to the col below Maiden Peak. Skinning up, we gained Maiden Peak (5:50 hours) and took a relaxing break for a splash of whiskey and hot cocoa in the alpine. We were able to ski down from Maiden all the way to the Green Mt ridge (with minor side-stepping at one point). We actually skied our only consistent soft snow of the day on a short gladed pitch near the end of the descent, with hoar so loud you could hardly hear yourself think! Transitioning again, we skinned the ridgeline and skin-skied through tight, scraggly forest down to the saddle below Deer Park. Though the Tired was beginning to set in, the sunset Stoke was strong with these ones, and we hauled tail up to the Deer Park Rd just in time to catch the sunset. After a much needed long break, we stripped and clipped for the road descent in the lingering alpenglow. If the lighting wasn't magical enough, the road ski was the fairy godmother that just gave you the winning Powerball ticket. "The CCC boys knew how to build a road" is an incredibly apt description (thanks Lowell!), and the firm conditions made for an exhilarating, and sometimes harrowing, high speed descent. There are a few thin sections on the south facing portions (still skiable), and watch out for sprinkled rocks and a couple sneaky blow-downs. We rolled past the closure gate just after 530pm, at 8:50 hours on the day (21.8 miles and 4k gain by the Suunto).

Overall, we had excellent travel conditions and snow stability that enabled to move much faster than anticipated on the day. The views are staggering, and there is great potential for lapping along the route. While we are jealous of those who take a few days to savor the tour (and take awesome photos!), the traverse is an excellent test-piece for a one day tour. Hell, I'd do it again just for the road ski, let alone the phenomenal terrain!

Also, we have to give a special shout out to our chauffeur, Kirk. Despite a ski injury in the Alps last season that left him with a shredded knee and a long recovery, he's never let it bring him down and has continued to share our stoke and adventures in whatever capacity possible. While he still gets after it on the snowshoes, he has graciously shuttled us more than a few times this season and endured all the day's stories with poise... We're at least comforted by the fact that he was able to spend an arduous sounding day napping/snowshoeing/drinking beer in the mountains that he loves. Thanks Kirk!

* Below_Obstruction.jpg (62.4 KB, 800x600 - viewed 672 times.)

* Jordan_on_Elk.jpg (154.7 KB, 800x600 - viewed 677 times.)

* Sunset_at_Deer_Park.jpg (86.4 KB, 800x600 - viewed 657 times.)

Posts: 2065

Re: January 10, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park ONP
« Reply #1 on: 01/15/16, 06:54 AM »

Boy, that sounds ideal.

A couple friends and I skied in the Hurricane Ridge / Mt Angeles area on Saturday and can testify to the beautiful weather and snow conditions. Being able to ski all the way down the Deer Park road makes a fast day trip on the traverse sound really appealing.

Posts: 531

Re: January 10, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park ONP
« Reply #2 on: 01/15/16, 08:40 AM »

Awesome use of a days light! That road is a nice toboggan run. I had forgotten the sprinkling of rocks, they just completed the tune on my old skis, and the limbo log.

Posts: 650

Re: January 10, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park ONP
« Reply #3 on: 01/15/16, 09:08 AM »

Wicked effort, guys

Posts: 321

Re: January 10, Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park ONP
« Reply #4 on: 01/15/16, 09:17 AM »

Strong work! Not that surprising to see our skin track to the Elk-Obstruction saddle was gone - lots of wind activity there. Glad you got to re-use it elsewhere though!
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