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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2017 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  May 2017 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  May 19-21, 2017 Gardner Circumnavigation
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Author Topic: May 19-21, 2017 Gardner Circumnavigation  (Read 1864 times)

Posts: 910

May 19-21, 2017 Gardner Circumnavigation
« on: 05/21/17, 10:22 PM »

I had a trip planned for the weekend that was postponed due to the warm-up. Jamie has talked for years about skiing the plum face of Gardner that you can see from the highway and suggested that this weekend seemed like the right time to try. Gardner is the most prominent peak you see from the highway traveling west toward Twisp. It is SSW from the heli-barn and Sandy Butte. Dan Peck, Jamie Tackman and I thought we could ski both North Garndner and Gardner, plus ski Storey Peak, without putting ourselves onto dangerous slopes. Whether that was realistic remains unknown. I broke a ski on the approach. Snapped it in a tree well, just in front of the binding. This changed our plans. Summit skiing was out, Easy travel was the goal. We circumnavigated Gardner counter clockwise, Skied Storey's north face, and then exited to Sandy Butte. Regardless of the broken equipment, travel was slow and difficult due to the mush. It was a cooker! We had two glorious camps and did get some good skiing in. A great trip even though handicapped by my broken skis.  The story in pictures:

Ptarmigan on approach!

Descent into Huckleberry Creek

Glorious basin between Gardner and North Gardner:

Instead of climbing and skiing the south slope on Gardner, we're going around. But look at this avalanche activity. Holy Smokes!

We got around the corner to the south side, but travel wasn't easy. It was hard travel at less than 1 mile per hour. Over logs, through mush, across avalanche debris, over rocks, through tight trees. At one point, Jamie got clothes-lined and broke his glasses!

The snow was, of course, mushy. You can tell by the odd shape of the tracks

Both camps were spectacular. The first, in the basin between the Gardners, surrounded and dominated by the rising flanks of the two peaks. The second at the base of Storey with views of Gardner near, and a sea of peaks far.

Sunset at camp2

The Gardners from camp. Notice anything funny about the skis racked on my pack?

Ladybug party on the summit of Story

The views into the cascades were spectacular

And we did get some skiing in!

Here is Story Peak with out signatures on it

We saw very little animal activity. A chipmunk at one camp, a few birds, two goat tracks, some bugs, a few birds, and some little critters. But we did get to see bear tracks near Sandy Butte on the exit. Which was pretty cool.

We had to walk about 400 vertical feet down to the car, but the walking wasn't bad.

And we finished off the trip with pizza and drinks at the Mazama Store before Dan headed West and Jamie and I headed East. It was a great trip, and kudos to my partners for tolerating my broken equipment. It would have been grand to ski off the summit, I wish we could have done that. Next time...

Something interesting: I left my skins on my skis to dry out over night. They became unattached with a gap between the skins and the skis. In the morning  I smoothed the skins onto my skis, they gripped fine, and we headed uphill. It wasn't until I took skins off to ski that I noticed this little critter, squished between my ski and skin.  A new one for me!

Posts: 498

Re: May 19-21, 2017 Gardner Circumnavigation
« Reply #1 on: 05/22/17, 08:46 AM »

Everyone needs to know this was seriously a special tour in a place few visit.  I will definitely be going back.  Jamie's brilliance in finding adventure strikes again!

Posts: 699

Re: May 19-21, 2017 Gardner Circumnavigation
« Reply #2 on: 05/22/17, 06:42 PM »

Dan and Mike, thanks so much for indulging me, even with less than ideal conditions, and Mikes broken ski it was a grand trip! Given some of the route finding, it was great to have the two of you to share the load.
Big Steve

Posts: 327

Re: May 19-21, 2017 Gardner Circumnavigation
« Reply #3 on: 05/23/17, 07:07 AM »

Cool route, nice write-up and pics.

FWIW that looks like a Spruce Grouse : )
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