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| | |-+  Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
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Author Topic: Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak  (Read 3981 times)
cascadesfreak
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Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
« on: 12/17/05, 01:47 PM »

The skiing was actually better than expected... not that expectations were high to begin with, but no complaints for getting out to enjoy a great sunny day in such an amazing valley...
I talked Daniel Tomko into heading up with me to the headwaters of the S. Fork Stillaguamish River, which are well shaded by Del Campo Peak:
                                   
The snow coverage was continuos on the road portion of the approach (Sunrise Mine Road; starting elev. ~2000-ft, alongside the Mountain Loop Highway); snow coverage below ~5,000-ft on southerly aspects looked rather thin across the valley...

Couldn't quite skin the whole route as coverage was sparse on the trail in the dense forest (long bare/rocky sections); once the trail reached the second stream, the snow coverage was better, so we re-donned skins and cut up-valley and off-trail, paralleling a set of snowshoe tracks through an open basin.  Coverage was overall good in the that basin (~3 ft) with occasional alder to negotiate, but still appeared quite boney (lots of rocks/holes) where the stream flows through a narrow ravine;

To avoid said ravine, we decided to try a route through the trees east of the stream (which looked much more appealing than trying to negotiate the cliffs to the west).  Our alternative route seemed fine at first, but the trees soon became denser, the tree wells deeper (and very tightly spaced), and the slope much steeper;
Owing to our rapidly diminished up-valley progress and acknowledging our time constraints, we opted to bail on our main ski objective (prominent wide couloir at the head of the valley; which did look quite tempting); the base of the couloir was likely at least another hour's bushwhack from our turn-around point at ~3,600-ft elev. (though it seemed much closer on the map...), which meant the likelihood of a possible ski descent by headlamp (preferred to avoid).

The snow depth was about 3.5-ft at our turn-around point (~2-feet of generally consolidated powder beneath a slight surface crust all overlying the Nov. rain crust; faceting apparent at/below the Nov. crust down to the ground; could be the setting for an unstable snowpack soon..?; also noteworthy, a large crown at least 2-3 feet high and 150 feet + long, presumably from a natural slab slide within the past few weeks, was visible in the distance on a high and steep northerly-facing aspect on Del Campo Peak).  Also, big surface hoar crystals were noted in places along the route (see photo below).
                             
Some fun and interesting skiing was had amongst the trees (powdery turns in places, but mostly semi-breakable yet still skiable surface crust).  The fun factor seemed to improve slightly after descending a couple hundred feet to more widely-spaced trees without so many 'tree well traps', and jumping the occasional snow pillow...

Photos:
1) Sunrise Mine Road approach toward Del Campo
2) Strong winds blowing snow off Del Campo Peak
3) View of Big Four                              
4) Daniel skiing some powdery snow
5) Daniel skiing the lower basin; Del Campo backdrop
6) Big surface hoar crystals
« Last Edit: 12/17/05, 02:52 PM by cascadesfreak » Logged
Jason_H.
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Re: Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
« Reply #1 on: 12/18/05, 09:15 AM »

One experience I enjoy is that of climbing a mountain, then seeing another across the valley and going, "Hey, I'd like to climb that." I saw Del Campo from Cadet and thought just that a month ago.

Thanks for the photos and story.
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Daniel
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Re: Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
« Reply #2 on: 12/18/05, 01:00 PM »

It was a fun day out. As always when skiing with Chris, the day was full of laughs. Here are a few more pictures:

Chris crosses a stream in the woods.
We had great view of Sperry Peak on the approach.
Chris skis the last pitch from the trees into the streambed.

Thanks for the great day out! Maybe next time we'll be skiing on new snow!
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Kevin Steffa
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Re: Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
« Reply #3 on: 12/19/05, 03:06 AM »

Thanks for the report in that general direction Chris- I have had my eye on that valley for awhile!

It is tricky get the variables of coverage, stability, and access to all converge up there... but the head of the valley does look amazing! Looking at the arial photo, did you get to the midpoint where the stream forks? There looks to be a brushy median (east side of stream) and cliffs on the west side from Morningstar. I wonder if the stream bed itself ever gets completely covered past that point...

- Kevin
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- Mossman
kam
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Re: Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
« Reply #4 on: 12/19/05, 12:17 PM »

nice, boys.
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What do you mean you didn't bring skis?
cascadesfreak
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Re: Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
« Reply #5 on: 12/19/05, 03:18 PM »

Quote
..did you get to the midpoint where the stream forks? There looks to be a brushy median (east side of stream) and cliffs on the west side from Morningstar. I wonder if the stream bed itself ever gets completely covered past that point...

Not sure which stream "fork" the midpoint would be (as the crow flies, we were over 3/4 of the way to our initial planned destination from starting at the Mountain Loop Highway), our turn-around point was nearly due west from the top of "Lewis Peak", probably a couple hundred vert. feet above the stream (looked like small cliffs above both sides of the stream below); the snowshoe tracks had kept going into that ravine, but we couldn't tell from our vantage points whether or not the entire ravine was readily passable with the low snow cover (didn't look very inviting, but could be possibly better than our tree route if it fills-in better); so may have to scope it out again sometime, when the coverage is better (have to get the access and snowpack stability variables to converge again too...which can certainly be tricky as most of the upper valley is exposed to large, open slide source areas...)
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philfort
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Re: Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
« Reply #6 on: 12/19/05, 04:12 PM »

I walked into that area once in summer, to check it out.  I started going up that ravine, and it sucked.  I went into the dense trees to its left (exactly like you did), and soon gave up.  

Then I walked back to the fork, and hiked up the other branch (to the east).  Much easier travel, but then you end up kind of high above the valley, caught above cliffs.

It's a jungle in there



Probably the ravine is the way to go, when it gets filled with more snow.  I think there was a TR from that snowshoer whose tracks you saw, on nwhikers or something.
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cascadesfreak
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Re: Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
« Reply #7 on: 12/19/05, 04:49 PM »

Thanks for the additional info. Phil...
Looks like the snowshoe track didn't stay in the ravine, but rather cut SW steeply up-slope to the top of Morning Star Peak...
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allyson
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Re: Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
« Reply #8 on: 12/20/05, 05:58 AM »

hey nice photos everyone!  that place looks pretty sweet.  the glittery snow, the shining sun...you guys look like you should be in a catalog! Wink
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snowshoe?? why would you??
Kevin Steffa
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Re: Dec. 17, 2005; near Del Campo Peak
« Reply #9 on: 12/20/05, 06:12 AM »

I'll go back there with you next time the conditions line up. It looks like there is an interesting sequence on couloirs and ramps that link high up on Del Campo. Morningstar in particalar has some unique slabby rock formations at the head of the valley, a bit reminiscent of that peak we saw in New Zealand above the Aspiring trailhead.
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- Mossman
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