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Author Topic: July 1-2, 2017, Ptarmigan Traverse S-N  (Read 2129 times)
toddball
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July 1-2, 2017, Ptarmigan Traverse S-N
« on: 07/03/17, 05:26 PM »

Max and I ran into some tele fellas on the Le Conte yesterday who didn't think we were going to post a trip report because we were Canadians.  Well, we're not Canadians, so here's the trip report.*  Actually useful beta notes at the bottom.

We were duped into skiing the Ptarmigan Traverse south-to-north so we could switch cars with two of our other friends, who wanted to ski it north-to-south.  This involves starting at 1200' instead of 3400' and covering the many miles of delightful well-maintained forest path going up instead of down.  Find the skier:



We found snow at the headwaters of Bachelor Creek (around 5500').  Turns out the snow didn't last down to Cub Lake, so we had to boot down there.  On the way down to the lake we saw a ptarmigan walking down the snow-free trail, which was very auspicious.

Dana Glacier skied pretty well, although it's definitely cracked up and you have to be on the lookout.  We took basically the only route that goes top-to-bottom on the right side of this image:



I can't remember what time we made it to White Rock Lakes, but we had about an hour until the sun went behind the ridge and the wind picked up.  Max got hit in the face all night by the Megamid, but our liners were pretty dry in the morning.

The next day we got an #alpinestart and left camp around 8:30.  Booting up the col to South Cascade Glacier, crossing the glacier and the west slopes of Sentinel, and getting onto the Le Conte was surprisingly quick.  Some of the cracks on the Le Conte were pretty gigantic, but it wasn't that hard to navigate.  Shortly after getting off the Le Conte we ran into those tele fellas, who were the first of four or five parties we would see going N-S on Sunday.



We found a sweet gully heading down to Yang Yang lakes, and saw some other skiers heading south who informed us that our friends had bailed but were running a car shuttle for us.  Thanks friends!  Lots more booting, including perhaps the steepest sidehilling of the trip, took us to the Spider-Formidable col.

The Middle Cascade glacier skied very well, and is almost crack-free.  Between the Middle Cascade and Cache Col is pretty bare, though.  We passed two or three parties of climbers between Middle Cascade and Kool-Aid Lake, and stopped at the lake at 4 pm for mango and mackerel.  We also filled up water at Kool-Aid and didn't treat it, because Kool-Aid sounded delicious.



Booting up to Cache Col involved crossing a number of rock/dirt patches; bad news for N-S skiers.  Cache Col skied extremely well, though.  We were able to ski a few tens of feet above the trail/bootpack by traversing steep, extremely loose dirt, which I think was the sketchiest part of the trip.  A bit more putzing around took us to the summer trail, aka the longest three miles I've ever experienced, and then Cold Snacks at the car.



Beta notes, in case you can't find/don't trust the boot track:

-Consistent/predominant snow travel starts on the east side of Cub Lake.  The safest option for ascending to the Spire-Dana col (or descending from it) is to make your way down the ridge on the east side of the lake.  There is another gully the goes up the bowl north of Cub Lake (it appears to have a stream in it feeding Itswoot Lake on the USGS topo) that is passable but looks thin and has a lot of water running under it.

-Travel between Yang Yang Lakes and the ridge east of the lakes (i.e. the descent to Yang Yang lakes, travelling S-N) is doable via a sweet gully that is totally filled in right now but probably won't be in 1-2 weeks.  If it isn't there are a number of routes involving heather/dirt scrambling.

-(almost?) all cols have bare dirt on the south-facing sides, but not very much and the moats are currently not problematic.  Cache Col has a large moat developing on the north side but there is currently an easy path through it.

-The Red Ledges are almost melted out, and are easily passable on foot.  Don't fall though!  An axe was handy on the part that hadn't quite melted out yet.

-We skied 5 "runs": Dana Glacier, Le Conte Glacier, descent to Yang Yang lakes, Middle Cascade Glacier, and Cache Col.  There were other bits of skiing to connect snow patches when we didn't have crampons on, but very little skinning.  (Lots of steep sidehilling + lots of steep ascent) * very warm temps = mostly booting.

-The snow from Cascade Pass to the parking lot is not continuous!  Our friends tried skinning up it on Saturday and had a whale of a time.

-The Ram near the Quilceda casino is open late, and has Armadillo Eggs.

*We did say we'd post a report here.  Hi guys, hope you had a good trip!
« Last Edit: 07/03/17, 05:35 PM by toddball » Logged
maximusj
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Re: July 1-2, 2017, Ptarmigan Traverse S-N
« Reply #1 on: 07/03/17, 05:39 PM »

For the record, I'd say I get accused of being Canadian at least once a year, but that is usually when I am ordering a Molson or something.
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skier8484
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Posts: 349


Re: July 1-2, 2017, Ptarmigan Traverse S-N
« Reply #2 on: 07/03/17, 09:48 PM »

Way to fight the uphill slide alder fight!  Wink Cool
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Randy
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Re: July 1-2, 2017, Ptarmigan Traverse S-N
« Reply #3 on: 07/04/17, 05:21 PM »

Nice! -- looks like S->N was the favorable direction in terms of turns given the state coverage!
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jhamaker
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Posts: 257


Re: July 1-2, 2017, Ptarmigan Traverse S-N
« Reply #4 on: 07/05/17, 10:56 AM »

We will get our longer trip and report in later.

So, do be clear, you camped above Cub Lk and at Rimrock Lk?

I'm impressed w/ your time, esp. considering you had to walk or skin *up* long traverses above the S Cascade Gl and  N of Yang Yang Lk.
Once we came upon your tracks to follow we no longer roped up on the glaciers which saved oodles of time.
We envied your ski down the Dana Gl, as I'm sure you envied us our ski down to Rimrock Lk. 

I'm wondering wich couloir you picked to get down to Yang Yang Lk.

I'm guessing your friends pulled a u-turn when they saw where we rappelled down instead of skiing up to get over a piece Mix-up Pk. en rout eto Cache Col.  Oops.

Great trip, spectacular weather, wonderful snow!
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toddball
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Re: July 1-2, 2017, Ptarmigan Traverse S-N
« Reply #5 on: 07/05/17, 02:21 PM »

We will get our longer trip and report in later.

So, do be clear, you camped above Cub Lk and at Rimrock Lk?

I'm impressed w/ your time, esp. considering you had to walk or skin *up* long traverses above the S Cascade Gl and  N of Yang Yang Lk.
Once we came upon your tracks to follow we no longer roped up on the glaciers which saved oodles of time.
We envied your ski down the Dana Gl, as I'm sure you envied us our ski down to Rimrock Lk. 

I'm wondering wich couloir you picked to get down to Yang Yang Lk.

I'm guessing your friends pulled a u-turn when they saw where we rappelled down instead of skiing up to get over a piece Mix-up Pk. en rout eto Cache Col.  Oops.

Great trip, spectacular weather, wonderful snow!

We only camped one night on route, at White Rock Lakes, i.e. just over the col south of the South Cascade Glacier.  Not sure where Rimrock Lake is, other than the one near Tieton.  Is that what the biggest of the White Rock Lakes is called?  We also camped at the Downey Creek trailhead Friday night so we could get an early start.

Glad our tracks were helpful!  The boot/ski tracks on the north side definitely helped us find the passage at the end of our ski off Cache Col, and getting off Middle Cascade Glacier at the right elevation.

Here's a photo of the ridge above Yang Yang Lakes to the south (by maximusj):



We took the gully that looks like it goes almost all the way to the ridge just right of center.  It does indeed go all the way up, despite appearing discontinuous in the photo.  Not sure how you guys got up, but when we were skiing down we saw another party of two skiers booting up the snow towards towards rock/heather ledges looker's left of our line.

Rappelling off the chunky stuff below Mix-up sounds heinous!  Looking forward to your TR and photos!
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Telepathetic
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Posts: 47


Re: July 1-2, 2017, Ptarmigan Traverse S-N
« Reply #6 on: 07/06/17, 04:40 PM »

Wow Todd, I am impressed that you did this in two days=took us 5! You Minnesotans are impressive-although personality, I still think you are from Canada, eh?
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jhamaker
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Posts: 257


Re: July 1-2, 2017, Ptarmigan Traverse S-N
« Reply #7 on: 07/06/17, 06:23 PM »

Right, great ski down to White Rock Lakes.
Our best day was when we met you.  We skiied from above Yang Yang Lks to Cub Lk.  The Cub basin was filled w/ folks bagging summits.
Tired, and not wanting the adventure to be over, we took just over a day to walk out from Cub Lk, missing your recommended descent through the trees.

The folks you saw booting out of Yang Yang Lks were probably using our boot tracks.

You've probably seen David's TR just above yours on TAY.
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bfree32
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Posts: 147


Re: July 1-2, 2017, Ptarmigan Traverse S-N
« Reply #8 on: 07/06/17, 08:54 PM »


We took the gully that looks like it goes almost all the way to the ridge just right of center.  It does indeed go all the way up, despite appearing discontinuous in the photo.  Not sure how you guys got up, but when we were skiing down we saw another party of two skiers booting up the snow towards towards rock/heather ledges looker's left of our line.


I'm one of the skiers you met above Yang Yang. That route to the left worked well for climbing - easy heather/steep "trail". I'm glad the snow chute was a good ski though. Nice work on sending it through in two days! We thought four was plenty tough (while leaving plenty of time to relax and battle with marmots in the camps).

One factor in the tough first day was the incompetent park rangers not getting the CRR gate at MP21 open until the crack of noon on Saturday, after dozens of cars had already parked all along the side of the road. We certainly did not enjoy the extra 2+ miles of hiking the heavy packs and ski gear up the hot road as the rangers drove past to inspect the perfectly good gravel with nary a patch of snow or even a pothole. Why was this not open on Friday or earlier?! This, plus the general lack of snow in the Cascade Pass - Cache Col - Kool Aid Lake area had us considering bailing too. I'm sure glad we didn't though - after that, travel was 95% on skis from Red Ledges to Cub Lake.

Nice! -- looks like S->N was the favorable direction in terms of turns given the state coverage!

We had this thought as well. By far our best fall line turns were off the summit of Dome. Most of the descents on the actual N-S route are more traversing than good fall line. But I'm not sure I'd make the trade for having to do the infamous Bachelor Ck bushwhack going uphill! Regardless, you certainly don't do this route for the quality of ski runs. The marvelous views and glacier travel are what makes it all worth it.
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