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Author Topic: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star  (Read 1600 times)
Heli-Free North Cascades
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WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« on: 12/15/17, 03:16 PM »

Like many of you I've heard the rumor that the Silver Star Gate will be a new established snowmobile trail park with plowing throughout the winter.

In early November I sent an email and asked that question to the communications officer for our region.

Here is the November 6th reply.


"Chris,
The Department of Transportation only has closure authority over the highway itself- all the property beyond both shoulders is regulated by the Forest Service, the Park Service or the counties and is open to the public year around.
We keep the highway  plowed to Silver Star gate as long as winter allows – that is – as long as a single snowplow truck can get to the gate and turn around.  That typically translates to around Christmas or New Years.  The closure barricades then appear 7 miles east at Early Winters.
There are no avalanche chutes in that section.
I hope you understand that WSDOT is obliged to keep the highway open for all users as long as it can be used safely.
Sincerely,
Jeff Adamson, "


I did send him a subsequent email pointing out that there has actually been one historical Avalanche that I know of that reached the road in that area.

Contrary to what the Commercial Backcountry Access folks ( they call themselves Cascade Backcountry Alliance) would have you believe, increasing easy automobile access to winter time Mountain trailheads increases overcrowding and does not alleviate overcrowding in others areas that are also easily accessed.

In addition every time the cry goes out for more plowed road  access for automobiles so skiers can have their lattes to go right up to the skiing, it takes access away from people who have a have had historical use of that road for snowmobiling.

In other words it's a hot-button conflict issue.

If the CBA wants to go down that road so to speak, Bring It On. But I would really like to know who their main monetary donors are.

Also  to any dedicated snowmobilers who are reading this, most of the backcountry skiers that I know personally would not consider the views held by the Commercial Backcountry Access folks (CBA) to be consistent with our own. Unlike them most of the backcountry skiers I know, we are not trying to restrict your access.

In our region we have come to a gentleman's agreement with our friends, pillars of our community and the folks we work with who Avid snowmobilers and snow bikers and who have the skills to reach high up in the mountains.

Basically I had a discussion with one of our local snow bikers several years ago and he agreed that they're not there to endanger us in the terrain that we have been using historically.

We had a discussion on which terrain skiers have been historically using and he agreed that they would stay out of those areas and focus on the areas that we don't traditionally use.

So in other words be very cautious about this new organization who are calling themselves the Cascade Backcountry Alliance.
This is a sham organization that is commercially driven run by industry insiders who also work for commercial Guide Outfitters.

Powder to the people.
« Last Edit: 12/15/17, 04:02 PM by freeski » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #1 on: 12/16/17, 05:58 PM »

In addition every time the cry goes out for more plowed road  access for automobiles so skiers can have their lattes to go right up to the skiing, it takes access away from people who have a have had historical use of that road for snowmobiling.

Sorry, no sympathy from me.

It's a highway.

Snowmobilers aren't riding that stretch of road because they LIKE riding that stretch of road.  They're riding it to get to what lies beyond.

Your case seems based on the idea that keeping the road unplowed will keep out the riffraff who don't have snowmobiles.

From a selfish point of view, I get where you're coming from. But from a public policy point of view, it doesn't seem defensible to me.

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SKIER-X
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #2 on: 12/16/17, 09:37 PM »

 I really like it when there's  so much snow that they have the closure at Early Winters , just means that you can access Sandy Butte and all the other Hills around without offending anybody except skiers from out of town who aren't accepting of a diverse culture and find it hard to believe that someone could be a snomobiler , biathelete , fatbiker , nordic skier , BC skier ,Downhill skier ,coach ,,rancher,miner, farmer ,climber ,hockey player ,teacher ,musician, community volunteer and hunter . Oh ya fisherman and...has tolerance for others.   I think if we want it to be easy we could build a resort at Early Winters ...Just a crazy Idea I had.... I think a good start would be to address the human and canine fecal mater , garbage , trailhead crime , following without permission ( Tracking / Stalking ) which , by the way is illegal , and , lack of smiling faces that didn't exist here until the wave of carpetbagging commercialism arrived and has left  evidence of it's relentless promotion , underway now. . Seems a little like pooping in your own nest , but maybe that's ok ,if your into that kinda thing.      X     Oh by the way Lowell ,I enjoy riding my snomobile on that section of road even if I'm not skiing !
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Skiing Batman
cumulus
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #3 on: 12/17/17, 08:11 AM »

I really like it when there's  so much snow that they have the closure at Early Winters , just means that you can access Sandy Butte and all the other Hills around without offending anybody except skiers from out of town who aren't accepting of a diverse culture and find it hard to believe that someone could be a snomobiler , biathelete , fatbiker , nordic skier , BC skier ,Downhill skier ,coach ,,rancher,miner, farmer ,climber ,hockey player ,teacher ,musician, community volunteer and hunter . Oh ya fisherman and...has tolerance for others.

funny - -  "(I'm) so tolerant (of everyone)... except for skiers from out of town"


Is there some stipulation to living on the eastside that requires one to be blinded by ones bias?

...and yes, that is an admittedly stupid rhetorical question  Wink not deserving of an answer...    carry on
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Stefan
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #4 on: 12/17/17, 09:00 AM »

....all of this, due to overpopulation. Doesn't matter if the problem is 1st world or 3rd world. We have passed threshold on this planet. Start buying condoms boys! And not the bowling alley rubbers with the holes in them...
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SKIER-X
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #5 on: 12/17/17, 09:29 AM »

  an pinch hits one its ...going...going... going..a grand slam ..out of the park sports fans  Grin
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Skiing Batman
Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #6 on: 12/18/17, 06:03 PM »

funny - -  "(I'm) so tolerant (of everyone)... except for skiers from out of town"


Is there some stipulation to living on the eastside that requires one to be blinded by ones bias?

...and yes, that is an admittedly stupid rhetorical question  Wink not deserving of an answer...    carry on

no no by all means come here and enjoy the culture, bring your snowmobile we'd be happy to show you some lines.

And for you cumulus, let me know if you want ski and I'll even have my extra snowmobile here waiting for you. It's a 4-stroke utility sled and functions exactly like a car, except made for non plowed roads still covered in beautiful snow.

I'm always amazed how detractors here at turns all year try to create some fantasy image of who I or my friends are in order to fit in with their agenda or their bias. Are you really that guy cumulus?

Do you even have a clue how myself and many of my friends go out of their way to free-guide out-of-towners, if that's what they're looking for and serendipity brings us together.

I'll bet you do the same thing in your area.










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two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #7 on: 12/18/17, 06:27 PM »

Sorry, no sympathy from me.

It's a highway.

Snowmobilers aren't riding that stretch of road because they LIKE riding that stretch of road.  They're riding it to get to what lies beyond.

Your case seems based on the idea that keeping the road unplowed will keep out the riffraff who don't have snowmobiles.

From a selfish point of view, I get where you're coming from. But from a public policy point of view, it doesn't seem defensible to me.


Lowell, it's actually not my policy, it's the policy of the Washington State Department of Transportation and it's designed for Public Safety.

That's an extremely dangerous stretch of road in the winter and way safer to be on a snowmobile. Are you saying that a public safety policy that has been in place for decades is no longer valid because now skiers desire automobile access?

Do you really pretend to know the mind of the people who enjoy snowmobiling on that section of road.

You also have to look at it from practical point of view. When we get a big snowstorms here, the WSDOT priority seems to be making the roads safe for, I don't know, let's say school buses full of children.

Oh and of course everyone else who uses the Roads.

Please don't tell me that your saying let's divert resources away from Public Safety needs in order to plow skier access which
was proposed to serve a commercial agenda.

The number one goal of the WSDOT is to keep the public safe on our roadways.

They do a great job and I have a lot of respect and admiration for those WSDOT folks.

And speaking of selfish pov's, aren't you the guy who says it's okay to allow motorized access to the Alpine as long as it's a helicopter and not a snowmobile?

I Get It Lowell, you like helicopters because you've been helicopter skiing and can't see the conflict that you helped create, all the while taking every chance you can to exclude snowmobiles.


From a selfish point of view, I get where you're coming from. But from a public policy point of view, it doesn't seem defensible to me.
« Last Edit: 12/18/17, 07:04 PM by freeski » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #8 on: 12/18/17, 08:49 PM »

Lowell, it's actually not my policy, it's the policy of the Washington State Department of Transportation and it's designed for Public Safety.

That's an extremely dangerous stretch of road in the winter and way safer to be on a snowmobile. Are you saying that a public safety policy that has been in place for decades is no longer valid because now skiers desire automobile access?

Your reply ignored the context of my statement. I was responding to what you wrote:

Quote
In addition every time the cry goes out for more plowed road  access for automobiles so skiers can have their lattes to go right up to the skiing, it takes access away from people who have a have had historical use of that road for snowmobiling.

You were complaining about a proposal from the highway department to plow the road. Are you saying that the highway department doesn't know when the road is safe in winter?

The gist of your original statement, it seems to me, was that the highway department shouldn't plow the road because there has, for several years, been regular use by snowmobiles. I don't see that as much of an argument.

As I said (and still believe) people are snowmobiling up the road to Silver Star not because they like snowmobiling that section of road. They're snowmobiling there in order to go farther, either on skis from that point or continuing beyond toward the pass.

How many snowmobilers drive to Silver Star and just turn around? Very many?

So the idea that the highway department should put a lot of weight on the historical use of snowmobiles there as an argument for not plowing the road (assuming they think it can be done safely) seems like a very weak argument.
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Good2Go
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #9 on: 12/18/17, 09:52 PM »

Forget Silverstar, lets plow all the way to Cutthroat!  That would be a game changer for Washington skiers who don't own sleds or helis.  I can also confirm the sledders don't care about that stretch of road. There is plenty of road riding all the way to Marblemount, if that trips your trigger. 
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Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #10 on: 12/18/17, 11:38 PM »

Your reply ignored the context of my statement. I was responding to what you wrote:

You were complaining about a proposal from the highway department to plow the road. Are you saying that the highway department doesn't know when the road is safe in winter?

The gist of your original statement, it seems to me, was that the highway department shouldn't plow the road because there has, for several years, been regular use by snowmobiles. I don't see that as much of an argument.

As I said (and still believe) people are snowmobiling up the road to Silver Star not because they like snowmobiling that section of road. They're snowmobiling there in order to go farther, either on skis from that point or continuing beyond toward the pass.

How many snowmobilers drive to Silver Star and just turn around? Very many?

So the idea that the highway department should put a lot of weight on the historical use of snowmobiles there as an argument for not plowing the road (assuming they think it can be done safely) seems like a very weak argument.
Quote
"You were complaining about a proposal from the highway department to plow the road. Are you saying that the highway department doesn't know when the road is safe in winter?"

Where'd you get that from? There was no proposal by the highway department to plow the Road full time to Silver Star Gate.

There was however a widely circulated rumor that there was going to be a new Forest Service trailhead at the Silver Star Gate.
I would think if that were the case the forest service would have asked for comments on such a proposal.

When i heard the rumor I wrote to the WSDOT Regional communications director and asked about the rumor. I posted his response above. Note where he says that the highway department will close that section of road as safety dictates.

From the DOT email quote "hope you understand that WSDOT is obliged to keep the highway open for all users as long as it can be used safely"

Quote "As I said (and still believe) people are snowmobiling up the road to Silver Star not because they like snowmobiling that section of road. They're snowmobiling there in order to go farther, either on skis from that point or continuing beyond toward the pass.

How many snowmobilers drive to Silver Star and just turn around? Very many?"

You can believe what you want to believe but the reality is not always consistent with that belief. The road is used by more than just skiers and sometimes we skiers don't even make it as far as the Silver Star Gate due to very deep snow.

 The road is actually also used by snowmobilers who are there only to snowmobile. I'm guessing that they enjoy it or they wouldn't snowmobile.

There are times when it's not wise to venture through the Avalanche paths that line the highway past Silver Star.


But I couldn't give you a count on the number of the snowmobilers who turn around at the gate. How is that number even knowable?

I would also have to say many, if not the majority of skiers also enjoy the snowmobiling aspect of the sport. Personally I like going fast on a snowmobile when the road is smooth. Sorry I just do.

Quote "The gist of your original statement, it seems to me, was that the highway department shouldn't plow the road because there has, for several years, been regular use by snowmobiles. I don't see that as much of an argument."

That's not the gist of my argument  at all, however to correct your statement, snowmobilers have been using that section of Road for decades not several years.

However, I would not expect the WSDOT to consider any factors other than public safety when deciding road closures.

Right now that section of road is plowed, however it does not receive the same standard of care as a the rest of the road system in our area. It is not sanded or salted, and therefore very icy at the moment.

 
My argument has to do with not only road safety, but with overcrowding a relatively small area with automobile access Backcountry skiers who don't know how to act safely towards other groups. Think Seattle skin track mentality.

It's a false assumption that creating more automobile access Trail heads will reduce skier overcrowding. That's the CBA agenda which is commercially driven, same as the Silver Star Trailhead idea.

The way it stands now with skiers using snowmobiles, as if they were automobiles to access skiing from the road, tends to spread people out. That is until the helicopter starts its operating season and dropping Avalanche triggers above us, so many of us tend to avoid that supposedly shared  terrain.

I've learned from experience that I don't want to be anywhere near that helicopter when I'm ski touring.

Heli-free North Cascades.



« Last Edit: 12/19/17, 12:11 AM by freeski » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #11 on: 12/24/17, 12:04 PM »

Hey Lowell, One avid off road snowmobiler Source tells me that they would prefer to see that road plowed to the Silver Star Gate year round because in the springtime ice builds up on the road down lower.

Often the snow machines capable off-road travel and reaching up into the Alpine have increased horsepower by removing some of the muffler systems and replacing them with through pipes.

Also the drive tracks on those machines have extended lugs on them that make for a very uncomfortable ride on ice. The tracks kinda resemble paddle Wheels.

In addition, those machines have such a high horsepower that the demands on the cooling system requires a constant supply of melted snow to keep the track lubricated and the machine running cool as snow is kicked up by the track on to the cooling system radiator.

That radiator is located behind the seat, and snow that hits the radiator melts and provides lubrication for the track.

Increased friction due to lack of lubrication, because of  road ice rather than snow, on the track will result in damage to the track guide system and places more demands on the engine which increases the need for cooling capacity.

My 4 stroke machine, which doesn't leave the road doesn't have problems with the ice as long as I use ice scrapers which causes ice to be sprayed up onto the radiator.

The reality is the road is icy after the Silver Stargate that time of year also, just less of it when you don't have to deal with the Lower Road. Of course a later start will often result in soft spring snow and not ice

WSDOT recently dumped fill above right alongside Early Winters Creek in order to increase the area where snow can be pushed off the road making it possible to extend plowing into the winter, and provide a turnaround for the plow.

I'm guessing there's some environmental assessment statement on file somewhere that allowed that work to be done as sediment in our creeks and rivers is an environmental and fish habitat concern.

We had an extended plowing season last year ( until the near Miss head-on collision occurred) and the result was the road closed anyway but because the road was plowed down below longer, it melted off down to Pavement earlier,which basically shut down all snowmobile and skier access for that short time of the year.

But mostly, having the road plowed to the Silver Star Gate results in a increased use off-road snowmobile use.

Ultimately we all justify our positions because of self-interest.

When the road closes down lower, the Wilderness up there feels bigger and more remote, unless the helicopter is up there working that day.

Then it's just another rat ass commercial area. May as well be in downtown Seattle.

No disrespect intended to the rat population.

« Last Edit: 12/24/17, 12:12 PM by freeski » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #12 on: 12/24/17, 01:16 PM »

Hey Lowell, One avid off road snowmobiler Source tells me that they would prefer to see that road plowed to the Silver Star Gate year round because in the springtime ice builds up on the road down lower.
...etc...

Interesting to hear that.

I don't really have a stake in the matter. If I ever built in the Methow, I'd probably buy a snowmobile. But for now, I just try to hook up with friends who own them.

I get the desire to keep the upper valley less crowded. I just think if that's your goal, you need to have solid arguments for it. The "traditional use by snowmobiles" argument fell short, in my view.
« Last Edit: 12/24/17, 07:05 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #13 on: 12/27/17, 12:59 PM »

Interesting to hear that.

I don't really have a stake in the matter. If I ever built in the Methow, I'd probably buy a snowmobile. But for now, I just try to hook up with friends who own them.

I get the desire to keep the upper valley less crowded. I just think if that's your goal, you need to have solid arguments for it. The "traditional use by snowmobiles" argument fell short, in my view.

I only used that argument of historical use to point out to the 'commercial backcountry access' folks (CBA) that when they seek to plow roads that have previously been recreational opportunities for snowmobilers, the result will be conflict.

In my area it was a pretty simple solution to actually talk to the avid snowmobilers and snow bikers in our area to work out our human-powered safety concerns in our own historical ski areas.

Turns All Year played a big part in that discussion and Gentlemen's Agreement solution. That's the way it should be, it's a community solution not one individual's solution.

I said a long time ago that I don't have the answers but 'we' do.

Currently in my area we are having discussions between Backcountry skiers concerning 'attitude' and how we treat others who we encounter on our skin tracks.

 Conflict is something that I am growing very weary of in my area.

The backcountry serves as a place where I try to escape from the idiocy of the world, mostly driven by commercial self-interest greed and power seeking control, but also the idiocy in that whole 'no friends on a powder day' and 'powder to the highest bidder' mentality derived at commercial ski areas and invading our Backcountry areas.

I want friends on a powder day. I Revel in their Joy. You can have my line, I can find another, but let's do it safely together.

But  conflict flies over my head every year and  destroys the safe peaceful enjoyment of those historical  and sacred places that I, my friends and loved ones seek.

 I'm supposed to be protected by law from the conflict that motorized heli use access brings to the mountains, but the forest service has yet to come up with a workable solution as recent events have demonstrated.

That conflict will be here soon flying over my head,  dropping Avalanche triggers above me and harassing me if I speak out and intimidating me  in order to interfere with my right to seek Solutions with the managing governmental agencies.

Heli-free North Cascades
« Last Edit: 12/27/17, 01:30 PM by freeski » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #14 on: 01/08/18, 05:54 PM »

Because of the low snow cover this year the WSDOT has done a good job keeping the roads plowed to the Silver Star Gate.

However I have a message;

Dude don't light any more standing trees on fire up there please.

We know it's just High School prankster stuff but you may be potentially committing a crime and you may be placed on a suspect list for arson should one of your fires smolder into this summer and start a serious fire with the potential for loss of life and destruction of property.

I know it's low probability but it has a potential for high consequence.

It ain't worth it. That's not what Backcountry skiing is all about.

Feel free to talk to me at the trailhead about this issue.
« Last Edit: 01/08/18, 06:01 PM by Heli-Free North Cascades » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
flowing alpy
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #15 on: 01/08/18, 06:00 PM »

The prankster is probably a newschooler, also,
thanks for the snowmobile track lube tutorial.
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silaswild
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #16 on: 01/08/18, 09:08 PM »

I want friends on a powder day. I Revel in their Joy. You can have my line, I can find another, but let's do it safely together.
Thanks Chris for welcoming me and sharing one of your favorite zones on a great North Cascades New Year's Day last week!  Thanks too for all your efforts to make sure everyone tries to play fair and obey the rules in the Highway 20 corridor.  I hope to enjoy another day with you in the back yard soon.
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Heli-Free North Cascades
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Re: WSDOT plowing policy Early Winters to Silver Star
« Reply #17 on: 01/09/18, 07:48 PM »

Thanks Chris for welcoming me and sharing one of your favorite zones on a great North Cascades New Year's Day last week!  Thanks too for all your efforts to make sure everyone tries to play fair and obey the rules in the Highway 20 corridor.  I hope to enjoy another day with you in the back yard soon.
your welcome, totally my pleasure Silas.just wish I could keep up with Ed. Cheesy

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two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
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