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Author Topic: May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse  (Read 1931 times)

Posts: 124

May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse
« on: 06/09/18, 09:53 PM »

Dakobed Traverse, 5/24 - 5/28/2018

Summary: We spent 5 strenuous and full days doing the Dakobed Traverse from the White River trailhead via Boulder Creek and exiting via Indian Creek. We climbed Luahna, Kololo, Disappointment Peak, and Glacier Peak on the trip. The weather was a mixed bag of wind, whiteout, and sunshine. The pollen from Glacier Gap and beyond was horrendous.

Day 1: About 2 miles shy of the White River trailhead, we discovered the road was closed due to a 100-yard stretch of mud and deep ruts. The mud is about 1/3 mile from the closure at the last place where there would be a turn-around for trailers. Beyond the mud there are 2 or 3 other sections of moderately washed out road that would pose issues for low clearance. As such, I would expect this closure to remain for some time and suggest bringing mountain bikes.

There was still a bunch of snow on the trail, mostly in the last mile before the Boulder Creek junction. Having been up Clark already several years ago, we knew the switchbacks were coming. When the switchbacks finally reemerged in to the forest, we stopped to take a break. I soon spotted a tick crawling on Radka's pants. Then 3 more and finally 1 on me. In total, we picked up 5 ticks climbing those switchbacks, approximate elevations 2600'-3600'.

Soon we arrived at the Boulder Creek crossing. It was raging like I've never seen it before. We crossed the first 2 parts ok but once we saw the 3rd and final part, decided it was too risky, and backtracked. Then we went in search for another crossing downstream since upstream is nothing but a jungle of slide alder. About 10 minutes downstream, we found a spot that seemed adequate. There's actually a piece of orange flagging tied to a sapling here where a log runs the entire width of the creek. Unfortunately, the water was running so high, the log was completely submerged. Another 50' downstream of that is a wide spot where we crossed and the water here was still knee deep! Overall, the creek crossing took nearly 2 hours and really set us back. We hiked another mile up the valley and stopped in the first flat area where it was clear we had finally reached continuous snow. Nothing like carrying your skis the entire first day of a ski traverse.

Ski picture #1

Ski picture #2

considerable danger of avalanche lilies

Day 2: We basically followed the summer trail to Boulder Pass. One short carry was involved across a bare spot about halfway up. The temperatures were already boiling but once we reached Boulder Pass a nice breeze kept things cool for the rest of the day. On our way to the Walrus Glacier, 2 military jets zipped through the Napeequa Valley, which has occurred on my other 2 previous trips here to Clark. It's pretty weird that you see them before you hear them. The Walrus Glacier was well filled in and navigation was pretty straight-forward. Radka set a steep skin track up the middle section. Once we topped out on the flatter area, we took a break before starting the traverse over the Luahna under Clark's north face. Having already climbed Clark before (myself twice) we saw no reason to summit again. Pretty easy travel over to the Richardson and the rock outcropping between Clark and Luahna.

We knew we could go over it or under it. We decided to explore the over. The moat wasn't too bad here getting on to the rock, though you had to be careful where you chose to cross, as it was hidden by thin snow in various places and already very deep. I put my approach shoes on here and explored further now on the south side of the outcropping. It was clear we could drop into a very steep col here (one 50-degree turn) and on to the Richardson. There was also a gentler gully we could have scrambled down as well. We chose dropping down the col. 

The E slopes of Luahna look quite steep from the distance. But once we were on the Richardson and climbing up them, they totally changed character. We gained the E Ridge of Luahna around 7400' and transitioned back to our approach shoes. I have no idea what route we actually did, as some was directly on the East Ridge, but a lot was also on the south side well below the East Ridge. I was surprised to not find a single cairn and very little signs of any previous visitors. We were mostly able to avoid snow except for one patch. I would consider this route mostly class 2 but there was definitely some class 3 and a few moves of exposure. Likely our desire to avoid snow made the route a little harder than normal.

The summit was pretty spectacular since we were right on the crest of the weather system moving through the region. It is always a real treat to watch the clouds spilling over the mountain tops and crests like a flowing river. While on the descent, brocken spectre made its appearance once again. Radka couldn't resist her cult's hunger and had to fill their appetite with more spectre photos.

We reached the saddle that divides the Pilz and Richardson after 8pm. The wind was really moving now. Unfortunately, we had to make camp on the middle of the Pilz with no protection from the elements and no running water. The wind blasted our tent all night. We got about 1 hour of sleep each and a significantly bent tent pole.

Onto Walrus Glacier

First views of Luahna

Tiny human looking towards Luahna

looking for Luahna's summit

clouds spilling over

Luahna's summit

Brocken Spectre

Clark and the Moon

sunset from camp

Day 3: We climbed up to the next saddle separating the Pilz and Butterfly Glaciers. There was still a pretty good breeze and it was difficult getting the temperature right because as soon as the breeze went away, we got too hot. The Butterfly Glacier was still pretty firm when we dropped on to it. Skiing down a glacier that we didn't ascend is always an interesting experience since we have no idea if a rollover is going to result in an icefall. We chattered our way down with a couple long traverses. We decided the skier's right edge of the Butterfly Glacier would definitely go and headed in that direction. We could spot several icefalls and steep slopes skier's left. About halfway down the glacier, we wound up more in the middle, and threaded some ramps between cliff bands. Fortunately, the snow was softer here.

Just beyond the toe of the glacier, we saw a few spots with running water off slabby rock poking out of the melting snow. We headed over and filled up on water here. Our water filter had completely clogged the night before, so running water from a safe source was now at a premium. Then we transitioned back to skinning and started heading up to Moth Lake. We took a break at the saddle above Moth Lake to let our skins dry and refuel. From the saddle, we chose to do a wide skier's left traverse instead of skiing down to the lake. This saved us a transition at the cost of missing some good turns on nicely corned snow. A short section of side-steeping was still required though to reach the bench just above and NW of Moth Lake. Then we started the traverse under the Moth Glacier and over to the north slopes of Tenpeak Mountain.

We quickly reached the crux of the day – a steep gully with a lot of water draining. We skied a little too low here, to ~5800'. We switched over to approach shoes to inspect options, and eventually decided it would be best to boot back up about 100' and cross the gully on snow from there. My advice to hit this section correctly is to traverse from Moth Lake as far as you can. Then look for the first opportunity that travel would continue west across Tenpeak. There are simply no other options above this spot – it's just cliffs and ribs. Fortunately, crossing the gully proved to be pretty easy as it was still bridged well enough and the other side, though it had a steep flank, was only a few steps to climb over. From here, it was an annoying traverse of the 6000'-6100' band over to the Honeycomb Glacier. We decided to continue booting instead of transitioning back to skinning, since there was a lot of avalanche debris, annoying side-hilling, and our skins were soaked (ie. Not really sticking). Some holes were forming and travel was precarious in places. We could see how this section would be pretty challenging with less snow.

Upon reaching the Honeycomb Glacier, we were in awe. This area is pretty amazing. We took a break and put the skis back on, then did a traverse, before switching back to skinning. Voile straps were necessary to keep the skins on. The skin up the Honeycomb Glacier was nice and gentle, if not long. We both were getting dizzy in the last bit due to exhaustion and hunger. We realized we would not be able to climb Kololo and reach Glacier Gap this evening and wanted something that was kind of sheltered any way, figuring Glacier Gap would not provide any. We found a wind scoop along the top of the Honeycomb where it joins with the Suiattle Glacier. Though no running water was found, we had a much more peaceful night and slept like dead.

Skiing down Butterfly Glacier

traverse under Tenpeak

solar halo

Onto Honeycomb Gl., Hive

Chateau Chapin


Day 4: We left camp ~9am, feeling rested, and headed for Kololo. I always looked at the Suiattle from previous trips up Glacier Peak and it was good to finally be over here. We nearly skinned to the entire top of Kololo, stopped short by rock scramble less than a minute from the summit. Our motivation to climb Kololo was simply to honor ale_capone's dog! While on the summit, Pete and Becky came cruising by. Though we've never met, they recognized us, and we exchanged introductions. Then they headed off to check out Tenpeak. Nice meeting you both!

We returned to our skis and did a long, skiers left traverse to Glacier Gap, managing to squeeze in only a couple turns. A few short sections of side-stepping were required due to the soft snow. Under firmer conditions it wouldn't be too hard to ski the entire way there from the top of the Suiattle. Then we found a partially melted out camp-rock-wall and dropped all our overnight gear before another ascent of Glacier Peak. After not seeing anybody for 3 days, we were a little shocked by the number of people with Glacier Peak as their goal for the holiday weekend, but good to see so many people taking advantage of the weather.

The Gerdine and Cool Glaciers were in great shape. After reaching the Cool, we watched a party ski the Cool Glacier headwall and also the slope looker's right of it. We decided we would ski the slope looker's right this time. We quickly went to the top of Disappointment Peak, a short 10-minute detour, the cairn on top already melted out. Then headed over to Glacier, skinning half of the final ascent and booting the other. Another GP summit in the bag! My 5th, Radka's 3rd. Getting down to the slope we wanted to ski is definitely not without risk. It's pretty steep and a lot of it is north facing. It was already re-frozen and very firm so we booted over, though it seems everyone previous had skied over. The run instead was really nice – pitch and snow conditions – definitely the best turns on the trip.

Back at Glacier Gap, we repacked, and I went in search for water. A group was pumping at a stream just below and graciously gave us a couple liters – enough to get us to White Pass. We tried to ski down to the White Chuck but we literally we not able to move on a downward traverse. The pollen was absolutely terrible and we've never experience like this. We took a 20-minute break to remove it with base cleaner and apply new wax. Then we put our skins on and were actually able to slide downhill. The slog from here to White Pass was long. We made a slight mistake here that is better for climbers but worse for skiers, resulting in an extra traverse on the south slopes. Before White Pass, our skis were completely coated in pollen once and our skins were no longer sticking. It's a sad day when you arrive at White Pass carrying your skis!

A party was camped there and I asked them where they got their water from. The pointed to a creek a foot away (the summer trail). I asked for another favor to borrow their pump and they not only let us use their filter but pumped all our water for us. Thanks Nick! The evening was calm enough though definitely breezy at times.

Kololo summit

Becky and Pete

solar halo

Cool Glacier

victory splat

Day 5: We woke up in a cloud. All the ridge tops were in rolling white-outs but further east was clear sky. Groups of people camped in the White Chuck basin steadily arrived. We finally pulled out of camp ~9am and headed for Indian Creek Pass. I did silently consider just going back to the North Fork Sauk trailhead and trying to get a ride home, with the plan to return the following day with my neighbor to get our car along the White River. In hindsight, I wish we had. All I can say about the Indian Creek exit is that I don't recommend it. It would be much easier to go through the logistical hassle of setting up a car shuttle. 
Or consider the Lightning Creek exit.

From White Pass, we followed the ridge exactly to Reflection Pond, since we could not see anything. It's bad – skis were taken off multiple times and steep snow was booted. If you have visibility, the PCT is probably better, but likely annoying side-hilling. Once we got to Reflection Pond, we just gave up on skinning altogether and walked the rest of the way to Indian Pass. The terrain from Reflection Pond to Indian Pass is all side-hilling and I don't like skinning that for miles. Additionally, the moisture of the cloud was preventing use of our GPS but Gaia on the cel phone still worked. The moisture also brought Radka's camera to its final day. Her camera stopped working and we learned later in the week it had sustained critical water damage over the past 5-6 years. RIP Camera.

Beyond Indian Pass, we tried to ski, but didn't get far before the pollen once again coated our skis and the snow just wasn't conducive to skiing (creek on one side and a large avalanche debris field on the other). So less than ½ mile from the pass, we started walking and never stopped. Shortly after the part of the trail that has the shape of the hairpin, we hit dirt, and put the approach shoes back on. The hairpin is to avoid a very large swath of slide alder by the way. From here, it took another 7-8 hours to exit. 1 tick was encountered halfway. We took our shoes off many times to cross drainages and swampy areas, easily adding an hour to the hike out. Then finally, less than a ½ mile from the trailhead, a raging creek had to be crossed (this is the one that drains the east slopes of Mt David), with headlamp. I don't believe this one would have been safe to cross barefoot. We left our shoes on for it since we were less than an hour from the car. I will say the scenery in Indian Creek is very appealing but ultimately a character building and very strenuous trail.

Though exhausted, we were glad to tick this traverse off the list and get Luahna at the same time.

where are we?

the end

TR: Chris
Photos: Radka

Many more photos on NWHikers:
« Last Edit: 06/09/18, 09:58 PM by radka » Logged

Posts: 33

Re: May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse
« Reply #1 on: 06/09/18, 10:42 PM »

Dang, I think that camera has lived more than most people in a lifetime. Very entertaining read. I think I made a cameo as a headwall skier- did you possibly get any photos of our descent?

Posts: 124

Re: May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse
« Reply #2 on: 06/09/18, 11:17 PM »

Wow, that was a gnarly descent! I think I had to look away at some point because it was too nerve-racking. We only saw you from a distance so the slope looked super steep. As we got closer, it laid back somewhat and looked more doable. With that said, I only have one photo that I shot from a distance with a wide angle lens.


Even smaller crop:

Congrats on such a rad line!
Pete A

Posts: 849

Re: May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse
« Reply #3 on: 06/10/18, 12:34 PM »

great TR!   congrats on getting the traverse.  Been looking forward to reading how the whole thing went for you two.   Good call skiing Glacier on the 27th...Becky and I saw all the weekend crowds and since we had the extra time we chose to wait and try Glacier on the 28th and wow did the wind kick up that day...kept us from topping out...we shoulda joined the hundred other skiers on the 27th Smiley 

little video of just how breezy it was on Monday.

Posts: 322

Re: May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse
« Reply #4 on: 06/10/18, 01:35 PM »

Wow! That's some serious wind! Pretty cool to see you were above the clouds - we wondered how the visibility would be higher up for you. Those dogs behind you are great!

Posts: 124

Re: May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse
« Reply #5 on: 06/10/18, 05:39 PM »

Such a treat to be floating (flying) above the clouds, but too bad about the wind. We need to replace our tent poles after the traverse because they're seriously bent from the night on the Pilz.

Love the puppies!

How did it go for you and Becky on Tenpeak?

Posts: 584

Re: May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse
« Reply #6 on: 06/10/18, 06:02 PM »

What a journey and an accomplishment with great photos(rest in peace your camera...)...way to get it done; pollen really sucks..

Posts: 950

Re: May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse
« Reply #7 on: 06/10/18, 06:03 PM »

What a trip! Really enjoyed reading it. That first day sounded longer than I would have enjoyed. Probably the last also. I've walked on dry trail up Indian Creek to Glacier Gap in a day. That indian creek valley goes forever! (I think it's only 9 miles, but it could be 20). You two are really getting in great trips this spring! I hope Radka's birthday is coming up. We'll all miss that camera.

Posts: 124

Re: May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse
« Reply #8 on: 06/10/18, 07:50 PM »

Thank you all! Hopefully all that endless carrying of skis and ski boots pays off as we switch to alpine climbing.

The camera lived a good life and has been to some cool places, such as the Pickets. Not knowing what to do with myself without a camera, I went and bought the exact same used camera a few days later (which has already been to the top of Sherpa since purchasing it because, well, cameras need to get out).

Posts: 813

Re: May 24-28, 2018, Dakobed Traverse
« Reply #9 on: 06/11/18, 02:55 PM »

Awesome! Such a great trip. Thanks for sharing! Way to get GP along the way.

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