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| | |-+  May 13, 2016 - Vesper Peak variations
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Author Topic: May 13, 2016 - Vesper Peak variations  (Read 2648 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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May 13, 2016 - Vesper Peak variations
« on: 05/14/16, 03:12 PM »



Steve admires Vesper's summit profile from the northwest shoulder.


On a cloudy Memorial Day in 1988, I skied the regular route on Vesper Peak with my brother Carl.  Maybe it was the dreary weather and lack of views that explains my failure to return to Vesper with skis until yesterday, when Steve Hindman joined me.  I wanted to seize the last sunny day for a while, and I was curious about the west flank of Vesper, which is prominent from Seattle on a fine spring day.  Here's a photo of this flank from Steve Cole's website:

http://blog.scolephoto.com/photos/2013/scolephoto_2013_090.jpg



West flank of Vesper Peak viewed from Monroe. Linked from Steve Cole's website with permission of the photographer.


The west flank is a huge inclined plane that holds snow well into summer.  It is split by a deep gash that makes it difficult (maybe impossible) to traverse from one side to the other once you begin to descend.  It's an alluring sight from Seattle but, surprisingly, not visible at all from Everett.



Steve climbs "Little Eldorado" to access the south side of the west flank at the top of The Gash.


We had no trouble driving the Sunrise Mine road in my Subaru and we left the parking area around 7:30 a.m.  The creek crossing had a bridge of small logs that people have laid down.  It went easily with ski poles for balance.  We hit snow in the basin below Morning Star Peak, skinned and booted to Headlee Pass, and followed old tracks to the summit of Vesper via the SE slopes.



Skiing the south side of the west flank. The edge of Spada Lake is visible at the right edge of photo.


After a boots-off lunch break we decided to check out the south side of the west flank. From the summit we descended to the top of The Gash (which is pretty mellow at this point) and side-stepped up a pretty snow crest that reminded me of the summit of Eldorado Peak. This crest forms the apex of the south-side snowfield.



Skinning back up the south side of the west flank. The Gash lurks in the depression behind the big trees in this picture.


The skiing was delightful. The snow was only a bit slow and it was generally well consolidated.  We enjoyed the unique view of Spada Lake and the feeling that we were skiing on the "front" of the Cascades. There were no major summits between us and Puget Sound. 



Approaching the summit again after ascending the south side of the west flank.


After descending about 1000 feet, we neared treeline and could tell that further descent would turn ugly.  Our skis had picked up a small amount of pollen, but a couple scrapers (one for the skis, the other a scraper-scraper) took off the worst of it.  We skinned back up the slope and crossed the top of The Gash next to "Little Eldorado."



Skiing the north side of the west flank. Our up-track from the first run is faintly visible on the other side of The Gash, which looks innocuous in this picture (but it's not).


The slope north of The Gash is even broader than the south, but due to the sloping profile of Vesper's northwest ridge, it doesn't feel quite as tall. We again skied to near timberline, and spent a little more time scraping pollen before we began skinning up again.



Climbing the north side of the west flank.  Again, The Gash lurks hidden just beyond the trees in the distance.


As we neared the top of the north slope, we decided to head for the northwest shoulder of Vesper, instead of directly toward the summit.  Here we were treated to a unique and spectacular view of Vesper's North Face in profile (see first photo). I've climbed Vesper several times, but never walked over to this shoulder before.  It's definitely worth the side-trip, but be careful of cornices above the North Face.



Skiing the SE flank of Vesper back toward Headlee Pass.  Morning Star and Del Campo Peaks are in the background.


Back at the summit, we took another boots-off lunch break and visited with a pair of skiers who arrived while we were on the west side.  The clouds were gradually increasing, sign of the weekend weather change.  We enjoyed fun, steep turns down the SE flank of Vesper and the Headlee Pass couloir, and got back to the car around 5:30 p.m.



Root-finding on the Headlee Pass trail.

« Last Edit: 05/14/16, 07:26 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
H2oskier
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Re: May 13, 2016 - Vesper Peak variations
« Reply #1 on: 05/15/16, 03:16 PM »

Those west face runs look great and accessing them seems pretty straight forward.  How far down from the summit would you recommend traversing to access the north facing run to Copper Lake?  On a side note, my wife and I skied Vesper 14 days ago (Apr. 30 TR) and it is hard to believe from your picture that all of the snow has melted off that side hill at Headlee Pass?  There was at least 3 feet of snow there two weeks ago.  I know it has been warm, but it is still surprising to see things melting out so quickly.


* LSkoog-20160513-0086-Steve-Hindman-skis-Vesper-Peak.jpg (247 KB, 600x738 - viewed 938 times.)
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: May 13, 2016 - Vesper Peak variations
« Reply #2 on: 05/15/16, 03:42 PM »

How far down from the summit would you recommend traversing to access the north facing run to Copper Lake?

I've never skied toward Copper Lake, but I'm sure you would need to cross the 5560ft+ saddle NE of the summit of Vesper. That's 600 vertical feet below the summit. Getting there from the summit wouldn't be a traverse as much as it would be a descent. See the photo below. You'd be heading for the obvious saddle.



Here's what the other side looks like:


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H2oskier
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Re: May 13, 2016 - Vesper Peak variations
« Reply #3 on: 05/15/16, 04:37 PM »

Thanks for the additional pic and pointing out the saddle.
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Kenji
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Re: May 13, 2016 - Vesper Peak variations
« Reply #4 on: 05/19/16, 12:52 PM »

Paul and I skied Vesper 17th, Tue. Didn't put skis on until after over the pass.  Still good skiing higher, and NO pollen issue!  Did one run on the west flank. The south slope looked good, it's steeper and longer, maybe next year, I guess.

The road had a closed sign up for repair, be sure to check before heading that way.
« Last Edit: 05/19/16, 02:47 PM by Kenji » Logged
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