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| | |-+  March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour
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Author Topic: March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour  (Read 1917 times)
ADappen
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March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour
« on: 03/31/16, 11:01 AM »

Four of us from the Wenatchee Valley's Gray Brigade convened to ski Silver Star Mountain this past Saturday. To prove we were an inclusive bunch and not ageists against the young, we invited Cyrus Desmarais, age 24, to join us. Singlehandedly his addition dragged our average age down to 52… which made the rest of us feel spry.

Cy is not only young but he runs ultramarathons, which made his participation with us doubly comical. He would charge up the slopes; then occasionally wait for the gray to catch up. Because Cy is new to ski touring this year, however, he was willing to suffer our pace in the hopes of learning some scraps of wisdom. Intermittently, we gave Cy questions to ponder: “What do you think of the snow stability today and why, where are we going to find the best skiing on the return trip, what are some quick ways to evaluate the snowpack on the fly?” We could also see Cy struggling with his uphill kick turns and gave him pointers to  eliminate the struggle.

During the descent Cy became aware of another reason that skiing with the Gray Brigade is a questionable proposition. The balance of Paleozoic skiers starts to deteriorate ... and their joints and bones get brittle. The windblown powder on the upper Silver Star Glacier was tricky and a little grabby and our senior member, Chester Marler, age 70, took an awkward fall. His ski popped off and something else seemed to pop above his right ankle. He could stand but was in considerable pain -- too much pain to turn and too much pain to be masked by Vicodin.

Down we continued with the rest of us enjoying some nice skiing and Chester resorting to long, flat traverses punctuated at each end with a kick turn. Descending this way was slow and we began to worry that darkness would overtake us. We also began to worry whether Chester could really negotiate the final 1,500 vertical feet of forested skiing leading down to Highway 20.

Years of accruing good Karma were on Chester's side. At the 5,000-foot level we encountered a group of heli-skiers enjoying the day with North Cascades Heli-Skiing (the north side of Silver Star Mountain is part of the company's permit area and is frequently skied throughout the winter and March). This crew was being picked up after their final run of the day and was about to be flown out to the Freestone Inn in Mazama.

We rushed to meet them and asked if they had room to board an injured skier. They didn't but their guide, Sid Pattison, gave Chester his seat and joined us for the ski out to the highway.

I'll wager Sid lost out on some of his tips by not being on the spot as his clients disbursed, yet Sid was nothing but gracious as he skied out with us. "It's just more time in  mountains for me,” he said nonchalantly when we thanked him for helping extract Chester. 

We hope Sid's spirit rubbed off on Cy -- this particular ski up Silver Star gave him much more time in the mountains than he bargained for.

More about this incident and Chester's injuries here (WenatcheeOutdoors story)


* SilverStar-316-011.JPG (189.43 KB, 1000x667 - viewed 857 times.)

* SilverStar-316-017.JPG (168.85 KB, 1000x602 - viewed 854 times.)

* SilverStar-316-016.JPG (223.57 KB, 1000x793 - viewed 859 times.)
« Last Edit: 03/31/16, 11:04 AM by ADappen » Logged
Good2Go
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Re: March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour
« Reply #1 on: 03/31/16, 12:13 PM »

Bummer about your buddy's leg!  Did you guys snomo in to Silverstar Creek?  Your link mentions you can access this before the Pass opens, but after the plowing has started.  I thought they kept the gate closed down by Mazama, until the highway opens. Is that incorrect?
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ADappen
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Re: March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour
« Reply #2 on: 03/31/16, 01:07 PM »

No snowmobiles are needed now. Originally when the highway closes for the winter, it's gated on the east side just east of Silver Star Creek (around milepost 171). As the snow deepens during the winter another gate 7 miles closer to Mazama (east) is used for the closure. Then at some point during the spring when plowing of the highway commences, the closure point moves back up to the Silver Star Gate. We knew the Highway was open to that higher gate.

Highway 20 plowing info
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Good2Go
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Re: March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour
« Reply #3 on: 03/31/16, 03:11 PM »

Ah, now I get it.  I was confusing the "gate east of Silver Star Creek" with the "Silver Star Gate".

BTW - Here's another link for Hwy 20, showing plowing progress - http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/updates2016.htm
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pipedream
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Re: March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour
« Reply #4 on: 03/31/16, 03:59 PM »

The only "tips" I've ever seen exchange hands at NCH's heli barn after a good day of skiing are cold ones. The guides are well-compensated and certainly don't live on tips, plus they get to go out and do what we all love 4-5 days a week for a living.

Glad to hear you had a good tour and that when things looked dismal, the folks of NCH (who would've gotten the call anyways had you been able to call for SAR) stepped-up and helped you in a big way. If anyone should be tipping Sid, it's you Cheesy

P.S. - NCH's season ended on Sunday, so the area is much quieter now. Fewer sleds since WSDOT is actively clearing the road, no buzzing helicopters, just peace and quiet until the highway opens later in the spring.
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Moral of story is don't ski when you can snowboard
Andrew Carey
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Re: March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour
« Reply #5 on: 03/31/16, 06:29 PM »

3 cheers for Sid!  Reminds me of our NCHS backcountry trip 100 years ago; the plan: fly in, get dropped off, ski off a bluff, climb Silver Star and ski out.  Skiing off the bluff, one of our telemarking group suffered a spiral fracture of the tibia.  The guide called the helicopter back; we built a heli platform as she butt glissaded down 800 feet or so with her broken leg.  The copter picked her up then said climb in too and then dropped us off on the col of Silver Star while hovering with the runner tips in the snow; then we skied out to the highway open only to the point at which we encountered it and a suburban was waiting. :-)
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... want your own private skintrack? Better move to the yukon dude. (B'ham Allen, 2011).
...USA: government of the people by corporate proxies for business.

Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise
Pete_H
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Re: March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour
« Reply #6 on: 03/31/16, 09:43 PM »

Bummer to hear about Chester. Pretty impressive to ski most of the way out with a broken ankle. Hopefully he'll heel up fast.
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ADappen
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Re: March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour
« Reply #7 on: 03/31/16, 11:51 PM »

Chester was awfully stoic about it all -- which made it hard to believe that the damage was as bad as it was.
He said the kick turns hurt, but only after learning that his leg was broken did I suppose that it REALLY hurt doing those turns.
Tough guy.
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RonL
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Re: March 26, 2016, Silver Star Mtn, Paleozoic Tour
« Reply #8 on: 04/01/16, 11:08 AM »

That is such a fun tour and the pic of turns is awesome. Glad it all ended so well and hope he heals fast.
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