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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2016 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  January 2016 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  Jan 9-10, 2016, Stetattle Ridge
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Author Topic: Jan 9-10, 2016, Stetattle Ridge  (Read 2883 times)

Posts: 124

Jan 9-10, 2016, Stetattle Ridge
« on: 01/14/16, 10:53 PM »

Sourdough Mountain

Trip report by Chris
Photos by Radka

Radka had visited Sourdough Mountain during the fall and really enjoyed it (Trip report here.) We’d seen a few trip reports from the area in winter and they made it look spectacular. The forecast showed night time temperatures around 18F with calm and cloudy skies which made the idea of winter camping more appealing. Given the pros, we were able to enlist trail breaking help from teledavid too!

We left the trailhead around 9:45am and started the 5000’+ climb up, carrying skis on our backs. I had bonus weight since I decided to also carry my ski boots and hike in approach shoes. We were so excited to be carrying skis in the middle of winter! Hey, gotta get ready for those spring tours at some point. The snow was patchy the first hundred feet or so. Once the snow became continuous, there still wasn’t quite enough for nice skinning, so we kept walking in the existing boot pack and snow shoe track. After about an hour, somewhere around 2000’, we transitioned to skis, and I hung my shoes in a tree. Even from this point the snow pack was, for the most part, less than a foot, as evidenced by many deadfalls poorly covered. About 400’ feet higher up the summer trail, I set a way point, since it was my opinion this was as far as I’d ski back down.

We went another hour then stopped for lunch on a sunny shoulder. The skinning up until this point was quite firm from all the tree drip but never required ski crampons. Powder still existed in some places and where it was encountered, glopping soon followed. After lunch we attempted to stay on the summer trail where it starts the long northeasterly traverse, but quickly abandoned this plan and went back west to more moderate ground. The travel here was better, mostly through nicely spaced trees, and higher up, linking open meadows. Then somewhere around 5000’ we got views of the Pickets!

Davis Pk

Shortly after, around 5500’, we encountered a short but steep SE and sun baked slope. Parts of it already showed evidence of a loose wet slide. The runout was good, no terrain trap existed below, and we forged ahead across it. 10 minutes later we were all across and back on a set of benches we’d take to the Stetattle ridgeline. The views continued to become more impressive and we reached the ridgeline with only minutes before the sun set for the day. With dozens of places to set up a great camp, it was hard to determine where exactly the best was. Each time I started to stomp out a platform, Radka told me no, here, only a mere 5 feet left or right.

Bear Mtn, Redoubt, Moxes, Spickard, Prophet

Good night, Jack! And Crater!

Logan, Buckner, and the Snowfield group

The Pickets

The temperature continued to drop as dinner operations were underway. By 8pm, it was 10F with not a cloud in the sky. So much for the forecast. David and I retreated to our sleeping bags while Radka got busy with night photography. The night’s chill really pushed our 20F bags to their limit. We stayed warm enough, but were not as comfortable as the previous weekend with temperature inversion in the Olympics. Having a snack in the middle of the night was important to keep the body fueled and to generate heat.

A five-billion star hotel

The sun hit the tent shortly after 8am. Radka was already up photographing but I had already resolved not to get out of my bag until this moment. Apparently David had the same idea, as he was still bundled up under his tarp too. The sun sure felt good and after an hour we were all stripping our big puffy’s.

Good morning

Still sleeping!

The Snowfield group

Teledavid Smiley)

We knew there were 3 possible objectives for the day: heading further down Stetattle Ridge, summiting Sourdough, or skiing a north facing line down to Sourdough Lake. While Radka and I were breaking down our tent, David went to inspect the N slope’s stability. He came back and modestly said, “It looks good. And by good, I mean really great.” Just before we left our camp, around 10:45am, we saw a yellow plane flying towards WA Pass and speculated that it was John Scurlock doing some work for the DoT.

Indeed, the N facing slope was really great. Most of the slope was glittering in surface hoar. Having never skied surface hoar, it was a really awesome experience. The surface hoar sluffs were like a domino effect and even messed with Radka and David’s concept of up and down during their first ski run on the steepest pitch. The champagne-glasses-text-book-avalanche-scenario was perfectly illustrated with such firsthand observation. During my run, I skied right at the head of the sluff, and had the feeling of lightly being pushed down the mountain. It was weird enough that I went faster to get in front of it!

We broke the 1400’ run down to Sourdough Lake in sections and only hit wind board on a few turns. Otherwise, it was all settled and sheltered, 2 week-old recycled powder. Woo whoo! Looking back up towards the ridge from the lake showed multiple cliff bands and extreme skiing opportunities. We skinned back up. A chilly breeze appeared about halfway back to the ridge. It was nice to get back on the ridge and in the sun.

We made our way back to camp, packed up, and started the descent back down around 2:30pm.
The ski down was filled with the usual adventure skiing and shenanigans one can expect in the Cascades. Everyone fell crossing a creek, and in different places, about 200’ lower than the way point I’d set on the way up, exceeding expectations. At this point we traversed to regain the trail and walked the rest of the way back. I was happy to find my shoes still hanging in the tree. We made it back to the car around 6pm, upset we’d missed the Seahawks game for such a terrible adventure, and even more upset that Diablo didn’t have enough cell reception to pull up the score. Seriously, the views were terrible and I’d never go back here again.

Wait up, guys, just one more picture!

Good bye, Pickets!

More pictures on NWHikers:

« Last Edit: 01/14/16, 10:58 PM by radka » Logged
T. Eastman

Posts: 416

Re: Jan 9-10, 2016, Stetattle Ridge
« Reply #1 on: 01/15/16, 10:39 AM »


Posts: 373

Re: Jan 9-10, 2016, Stetattle Ridge
« Reply #2 on: 01/16/16, 10:11 AM »

Beautiful. My wife and I camped up there a few summers ago. Pretty good off trail travel up there during the summer. Special spot with some special effort getting up there.


Posts: 498

Re: Jan 9-10, 2016, Stetattle Ridge
« Reply #3 on: 01/21/16, 09:58 PM »

Ah yes!

Posts: 200

Re: Jan 9-10, 2016, Stetattle Ridge
« Reply #4 on: 01/22/16, 08:58 AM »

We saw a yellow plane on the 10th as well - circled Baker twice, then took off... beautiful day to be flying in the mountains...


Posts: 784

Re: Jan 9-10, 2016, Stetattle Ridge
« Reply #5 on: 01/24/16, 07:15 PM »

I like your trip reports.
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