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11/17/17, 08:48 PM

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| | |-+  March 30, 2016, Chair Peak Circumnavigation
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Author Topic: March 30, 2016, Chair Peak Circumnavigation  (Read 1391 times)
jakedouglas
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March 30, 2016, Chair Peak Circumnavigation
« on: 04/03/16, 12:48 PM »

I knew the snow would be bad but the winter had come and gone without getting this tour done, which I had wanted to do for several years. Left the upper lot at 7 with a yet uncalibrated sense of how early one should start at this time of year.

Ascended Big Trees using the skinner from Monday and hit the bench below the east face of Bryant in about an hour, where a few bits were starting to fall down already. Hit the gas and laboriously post holed up the steep shoulder before switching back to skinning to the top of Bryant col, now clear of the solar hazard but fairly committed to finishing the tour.

The descent to Melakwa Lake was immediately stressful, on a hard chattery crust alternating with debris. Locked out my bindings and started the slow process of side slipping and carefully stepping down through the chunks. Not knowing the way, I mistakenly stayed in the steeper trees at first before seeing the more mellow open slope at skiers left and making my way back to it.

Back on mellow terrain, I was able to make careful turns on a supportable crust until that crust abruptly turned breakable and I lost my tips and bit it. There was an involuntary "NOOOOOO!" as my ski slid away from my desperate fingertips. My leg ached from the fall and I felt vulnerable. Should I really be out here alone? Am I incompetent? Where's my ski? Will it be broken? A long walk out Denny Creek sounded like a bad way to spend the rest of the morning.

I strapped my other ski to my pack and started walking down toward the lake. Imagine my delight to come over a roll and find my ski planted tip-first in the snow! Whew, lucky. I put them back on and began a series of extra-careful long traverses and hop turns down to the lake, and was relieved to arrive there without further incident.

There was a patch of thin ice that I chopped through with my whippet to refill water and started off toward the pass to Chair Peak Lake, wondering what else was in store. The skin was easy side hilling on the eastern slopes of the valley, on a firm supportable crust and through big fields of debris. Ripped skins and got about 10 turns of nice preserved powder before it turned back to garbage and I simply contoured around the eastern side of the bowl to the saddle at the lake outflow.

Reapplied skins and climbed to the bench below Roosevelt where there were excellent views of the deep Snoqualmie peaks, Snow Lake, and the north slopes of Chair. Took a lot of photos, ripped skins, and carefully made my way down sticky shmoo that was baking by the minute. I was relieved to be back in familiar terrain on Snow Lake and set things to autopilot for the way home.

Ski down to Source Lake was more sticky shmoo, and I encountered numerous hikers marching toward certain hazard just as large natural avalanches were beginning to rip off of the steeps. More soda and Fried Snow at Aardvark got my head straight for the drive home.

I'm glad I did this tour, and did it in solitude, but in the future I will be more honest with myself about my ability to manage safely in poor snow conditions. The incident with the digger and losing the ski was definitely pushing the limit of my personal risk tolerance for being out solo.

Anyway, it's a classic!


* IMG_7272_1.jpg (235.05 KB, 950x713 - viewed 392 times.)

* IMG_7281_1.jpg (217.64 KB, 600x800 - viewed 397 times.)
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jakedouglas
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Posts: 124


Re: March 30, 2016, Chair Peak Circumnavigation
« Reply #1 on: 04/03/16, 12:49 PM »

More:


* IMG_7323_1.jpg (172.6 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 388 times.)

* IMG_7303_1.jpg (205.32 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 385 times.)
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jakedouglas
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Posts: 124


Re: March 30, 2016, Chair Peak Circumnavigation
« Reply #2 on: 04/03/16, 12:51 PM »

More:


* IMG_7333_2.jpg (229.86 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 392 times.)

* IMG_7370_2.jpg (240.37 KB, 860x645 - viewed 386 times.)
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Zap
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Posts: 2155


Re: March 30, 2016, Chair Peak Circumnavigation
« Reply #3 on: 04/03/16, 04:07 PM »

I enjoyed your TR and photos especially your ski that you found. We don't usually see TR that describe some of the incidents during a trip. Thanks for your comments.  Wink
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