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| | |-+  N Cascades Highway, May 7-8, 2016
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Author Topic: N Cascades Highway, May 7-8, 2016  (Read 2075 times)

Posts: 230

N Cascades Highway, May 7-8, 2016
« on: 05/17/16, 12:27 AM »

My longtime ski friend from Bozeman wrapped up his 21st (?) semester of undergraduate work on Friday the 6th and struck out west, meeting me on Washington pass in the North Cascades on Saturday. I brought the truck camper and parked it at the gate to the pass overlook around 11:30am. We geared up slowly, taking time to level the truck and put together some food, then took his car down the 2/3 mile to the hairpin turn on the east side and began skinning by 12:30.

Our route on this day was more or less the classic Birthday Tour in reverse, with a couple of variations to avoid the crowd factor. We made joking remarks about Guidebook Syndrome occasionally, observing from afar the tracks of many skiers following the route exactly as described in various references, and how one slope looked like an inbounds mogul run while the adjacent slopes remained blank. In the middle portion we came across several parties travelling the proper direction around the loop, and saw a few others from afar.

Near the bottom of the Madison Avenue slope below the Blue Col, we came across a sight I had not yet seen in my travels: a party of skiers waiting for professional rescue. One of the guys had accidentally aired into some rocks, breaking his arm near the elbow upon landing. Everyone was calm and the dude was stable, though unable to move much…  not enough to self-extract through the cornice-laden route to the highway, he had deemed. The group had sent a couple friends out to seek help three hours prior to our meeting, leaving us without much room to assist besides lending a spare layer to the hurt guy and wishing everyone well. “Don’t need water? Food? Keeping your puffies dry? Ready to spend the night? Got drugs? Ok, good luck!” We continued up to the col and hung out in the sun, watching the shadow of the mountain slowly creep up to the party below, reluctant to become involved in the rescue yet feeling obliged to stick around a little longer. The helicopter came up the valley after a few minutes and we enjoyed our mountain-top peanut gallery seats to the main attraction, relieved. We started the northwestward descent when the hurt dude was hoisted into the chopper. GET TO DA CHOPPA!

The cornice on Blue Col was large and in charge… actively peeling off and sending bus-sized pieces down into the spire chute. We jumped the moat at the reasonable end of the cornice and scooted down the chute to the car on just-starting-to-refreeze evencorn. We spent the rest of the evening at the camper, chowing fresh-cooked pizza (oven in the camper is key!), drinking beer, and scoping lines on Kangaroo ridge.

Day two began a little earlier, with the snow nicely frozen from the clear night. We cruised to the low pass at the head of Early Winters creek and dropped southeast into the next basin. We climbed and skied a south-facing chute at the northern end of the drainage... 

...then climbed back west to the high ridge North of Copper mountain.

We dropped back north into some steep trees and glided back to the hairpin.

More pizza at the camper charged the batteries for the final effort of the day: Blazing Saddles on Kangaroo. Back down to the hairpin we drove, then ascended the forested west-facing slopes below the chutes and climbed on up. Aenigma transitioned to booting in the narrows, while I stubbornly earned my Rando Commando Ranger Badge and skinned the whole way. Should’ve counted the fucking switchbacks.

Views from on high were kickass:

 We descended the skier’s left couloir, again gliding back to the hairpin after a couple tight turns in the avy-apron pecker trees. I cooked curry in the camper and we laughed while recounting 10000 vert of high-quality corn from the past day and a half. Word! 

On Monday we awoke to a trace of snow on bulletproof refrozen… and we bailed back down to the lowlands. If it had snowed another 4 inches, we would have stayed to ski powder… but we had visions of big runs on Rainier for Tuesday.

Posts: 902

Re: N Cascades Highway, May 7-8, 2016
« Reply #1 on: 05/17/16, 10:24 AM »

That looks like 37 kick turns to my failing eyes. Nice work, Rando Commando Smiley
I was up for an early AM run on Sunday. Bummer I didn't run into you. All I did was up and down Spire Gully from the hairpin.
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