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Author Topic: April 30-May 3 Mt. Anderson, Olympics  (Read 3311 times)
kamtron
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April 30-May 3 Mt. Anderson, Olympics
« on: 05/08/16, 08:32 PM »

Synopsis:
4 day bike/hike/ascent/ski descent/hike/bike of Mt. Anderson via the Eel glacier route. We skied from the summit to the toe of the Eel, as well as Flypaper pass, eventually removing skis at the bottom of Honeymoon meadows.

Full photos by Phil here: https://picasaweb.google.com/103705765281952591478/6281599257397007777?authuser=0&feat=directlink

philfort and I spent 4 awesome days in the Olympics, hiking in and skiing Mt. Anderson. Anderson is situated close to the centroid of the Olympic mountains and provides an excellent vantage of the rest of the range. Its snows feed the Dosewallips, Hayes, and Quinault rivers.

Day 1:
We left the car around 10 am and approached with bikes up the closed Dosewallips road, hiking around the big washout, carrying over deadfall, and riding as much as possible. We ate lunch and chatted with a few backpackers at the closed ranger station before continuing on the trail. It was cool to see how much trail infrastructure exists in somewhere that is now very remote. The tall bridge across the West fork Dosewallips was a real surprise and treat. We traveled steadily through massive old growth, salal, and moss to the Diamond meadows campsite where we chatted with a climber headed to Diamond.



Unfortunately, the log bridge after the meadows was out, so we had to ford the creek in our tennies. Saturday's temperatures were mild, and the creek was not very deep. The trail from here onwards was much steeper and filled with blowdowns; we didn't see evidence of any traffic there yet this season. There was one particular washout in the trail where I ended up using my whippet in the turf to secure my way across. Intermittent snow became more challenging. We had to walk on top of tall snow plugs perched atop the trail but slowly peeling away, with the river rushing below us. However, once this was over we found ourselves in Honeymoon meadows in late afternoon.





It had taken a lot of energy and time to make it this far. We wanted to get to a high camp above Anderson pass Saturday to have 2 days of skiing up high, but this felt like too much. How would we have energy to ski the next day if we kept going? We knew there was a shelter with unwelcoming name "Camp Siberia" nearby, and sleeping on dry ground sounded like a luxury. Our maps didn't show the camp on them, but we were pretty sure it was at the end of meadows in the forest somewhere.

We were incorrect. An hour of searching later, including multiple crossings of the stream (thankfully less swollen up high), and we couldn't find the shelter. So we tiredly set up camp at the far end of the meadows and had a quick dinner before sleep.

Day 2:
Sunday dawned warmer but with a decent refreeze. We skinned, with only a few short carries, from camp towards Anderson pass. A few hundred vert below the pass, we found ourselves in a meadow and, lo-and-behold, we were in Camp Siberia. We laughed because we'd been so wrong about its location and also because we could see through the roof. (Later, we found out that Google maps has it mislabeled, which we had both seen and internalized before the trip.)

Phil and I had decided that Sunday would be a mostly-rest day, so we took our time making it to high camp. I was able to skin almost continuously from Anderson pass through the steep switchback section that ascends to the lake, while Phil chose the more secure boot option. (His skins were near-failure most of the trip. Mine waited to fail until the exit.) We ate a snack on the rocks and checked out the Anderson glacier, but decided to camp near lakes 4924 and 4957 to ascend the climbing guide's route 2.

A short contouring skin and nicely corned descent brought us to the lakes. We nervously scoped route 2 while lounging on some rocks. Snow in the gully had one discontinuity. It looked steep. Above that, steep and exposed but easy-looking snow slopes led to the summit. This route seems fast, but the lack of snow in the gully was a problem.

We napped in the sun for over an hour, drying out our gear and taking it all in.

We deliberated a bit more, and decided we did not want to climb route 2. Flypaper pass, the crux of the Eel route, looked like it was in okay shape when we saw it earlier in the day, and we figured the Eel glacier would be a nice descent, so we changed plans to that. We packed up and moved to a flat spot above Anderson lake. As a bonus, we got a couple hundred foot corn descent and running water at camp!



Sunset entertainment


Day 3:
The climb went smoothly. We started at 6 am and skinned to the steep slope below Flypaper pass. This was a quick boot with crampons, although they weren't strictly necessary. A note: glacier recession has made this quite a lot steeper than indicated in guidebooks; the slope reaches an estimated 40+ degrees in the steepest parts. We descended about 400 vf below Flypaper onto the Eel, staying skiers left in the barely softened sunny side. From the here, we switched back to crampons and ascended the E lobe of the upper Eel to the summit slopes. These were mushy, having received early sun, which confirmed our decision not to climb the SE-facing route 2. We took off crampons for the final stretch of soft snow and were soon at the top (7321') admiring the views. It was 11 am.





After lots of picture taking, Phil dropped into the mush and skied down the the shoulder of the Eel. I went next, finding the snow was not grabby or too unstable and skied better than expected for its consistency. We poked around the Eel side and decided to give it another 30 minutes to soften. Eventually descending, there was some grabby snow in places, firm in others, not quite yet corn on the upper bit. But once we reached the flats of the Eel, we were arcing "baller G" turns in perfect corn. The final slope to the terminus (near 5100') steepens to an enjoyable pitch, and we high-fived at the quality of the snow. It was a cool place to hang out for a minute, but not too long since everywhere is threatened by large cliffs above. We had watched a cornice-triggered avalanche the night before and a glide avalanche that morning, so we got some glacier water and skinned back up.

Phil gets first turns off the top:


My turn


On the eel:


Corn stoke had overtaken me, and I wasn't ready to ski back to camp. I blazed ahead for a second lap, this time on the other lobe of the glacier while Phil took a leisurely pace. The turns down the glacier were excellent and steeper than earlier. I rode a long wind lip feature before curving back to regroup with Phil.

We hustled and were soon ready to descend again. Flypaper pass had been baking in the sun all day, and it was 1:30 pm. Phil cut left across the convex roll and sent a good-sized wet avalanche thundering down the skier's right chute. We carefully worked our way into the skier's left side, which we had climbed and wasn't as riddled with moats and glide cracks. I ended up going first through the business section and was able to cut off the rotten snow before linking turns. Old runnels, evidence of past slides, were firmer underfoot. After I skied down to a safe spot, Phil had no trouble dispatching the steeps, and we whooped our way down the soft, sticky snow back to camp.

Summit and Flypaper highlighted, view of the basin while exiting camp:


We said goodbye to Anderson no-more-glacier basin and, after a short skin, skied back through Anderson pass and onwards to Honeymoon meadows. At the pass, we found bear tracks heading to the Dosewallips. The bear knew the trail better than we did, and we used its tracks a couple of times to find our way. At the meadows, I figured that following the trail would be a shortcut (since we'd veered all over looking for the Siberia shelter before), but we got stopped by a swollen creek and probably killed 40 minutes backtracking to our previous path. Once on the better-known path, we did a flat skin (full skin failure: check) to the bottom of the meadows and started hiking. At the ford near Diamond meadows, the river was higher than two days earlier, but we were able to safely cross in our ski boots.



The Diamond meadows campsite provided the perfect finish to the day. Dry ground, a fire ring, easily found firewood: it had all the ingredients for deluxe backcountry camping. We enjoyed the spot to the fullest.

Day 4:
The hike back to the ranger station was uneventful, save for the wildlife encounters (bear, deer, frog). We saw no other people despite seeing at least 10 on Saturday morning. The bikes were still there, but Phil's had gone flat from a slow leak. Good thing I had a pump!



For me, the bike down delivered the scariest moment of the entire trip. Overall, the road is mellow and not too rocky, so it's fine for my commuter bike. However, there is a steep grade cut into an embankment near the ranger station. If you were to veer off the right edge, you would plummet a hundred feet into the raging river. Let's just say that next time I am in a similar position with a loaded bike and skinny tires, I will choose to walk down.

We did run into some entertaining folks at the end of the trail. Two bikers, one with a fat bike and the other rolling full-suspension, who were happy to talk about the biking, call us out of shape, and scoff at our bikes while actually being pretty friendly. Then, at the final stretch, we passed a group of young'uns. They looked to be hauling lots of party supplies and a rubber inflatable ducky float, much of it loaded into a heavy wheelbarrow! We kept our ears tuned for the sound of the wheelbarrow careening into the river as we decompressed at the car.

On the drive back, we passed a farm and realized the one crucial mistake of the trip: not hiring a llama train to haul supplies at least as far as Diamond meadows. Next time....

History note:
From our research, at least two other groups have skied in the Anderson area before. In 1941, a group of soldiers crossed the Olympics through Anderson pass.
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1338&dat=19410322&id=beJXAAAAIBAJ&sjid=R_UDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3314,5094858&hl=en
http://www.alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/comm/woodward-john.html
In March 2011, a group of 5 skiers including Leif Whittaker skied into Honeymoon meadows and toured on some of the surrounding slopes, but were stopped from making a summit attempt by avalanche conditions and limited time. http://blog.eddiebauer.com/tag/leif-whittaker/
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: April 30-May 3 Mt. Anderson, Olympics
« Reply #1 on: 05/08/16, 09:44 PM »

History note:
From our research, at least two other groups have skied in the Anderson area before. In 1941, a group of soldiers crossed the Olympics through Anderson pass.
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1338&dat=19410322&id=beJXAAAAIBAJ&sjid=R_UDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3314,5094858&hl=en
http://www.alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/comm/woodward-john.html
In March 2011, a group of 5 skiers including Leif Whittaker skied into Honeymoon meadows and toured on some of the surrounding slopes, but were stopped from making a summit attempt by avalanche conditions and limited time. http://blog.eddiebauer.com/tag/leif-whittaker/

In the early 2000s, I corresponded with "Old Larry" who used to post on telemarktips.com. Larry and his father were skiing in the Anderson Glacier area in the 1950s and 60s. Larry said his father had skied up there as early as the late 1920s and 1930s. I haven't corresponded with Larry for a while and I don't know where-all they skied back there. I haven't incorporated any of the information I got from him into my writings yet.

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kamtron
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Re: April 30-May 3 Mt. Anderson, Olympics
« Reply #2 on: 05/09/16, 07:59 AM »

Hi Lowell, not surprising that other folks have explored back there. The Eel route would be a logical place to go.

It must have been very difficult for early travelers to get into those valleys before the National Park infrastructure was built. Those early skiers were rugged.
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Jason_H.
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Re: April 30-May 3 Mt. Anderson, Olympics
« Reply #3 on: 05/09/16, 09:28 AM »

Awesome work getting out there guys. Such a cool place. So much adventure to be had in the olympics.
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powersa
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Re: April 30-May 3 Mt. Anderson, Olympics
« Reply #4 on: 05/09/16, 09:48 AM »

Nice work kamtron and philfort! Thanks for the great TR and inspiration.
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Salal
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Re: April 30-May 3 Mt. Anderson, Olympics
« Reply #5 on: 05/09/16, 01:03 PM »

 Great choice while everyone else is running around the cascades!
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Norseman
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Re: April 30-May 3 Mt. Anderson, Olympics
« Reply #6 on: 05/12/16, 08:53 AM »

Great work, dudes.
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cumulus
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Re: April 30-May 3 Mt. Anderson, Olympics
« Reply #7 on: 05/12/16, 09:30 AM »

that's a ways back there! That second image captures the hike well--beautiful and wild.
great capture all-around, nicely done.
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Stefan
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