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| | |-+  May 17, 2006 Mt. Baker Watson Traverse
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Author Topic: May 17, 2006 Mt. Baker Watson Traverse  (Read 1774 times)

Posts: 58

May 17, 2006 Mt. Baker Watson Traverse
« on: 05/18/06, 12:34 PM »

My friend wrote this short version of our trip. If you'd like more details, I will be happy to PM any info you might like. Thankyou Lowell for your suggestion on taking the traverse from West to East. Conditions for our descent were slightly less than desirable.......but doable.

Three words can describe this all day ski event.......Summer Slush Fest.

Since I'd mentioned the idea to you before, I thought you'd like to know that Stacy and I completed the "Watson Traverse" over Mt. Baker yesterday, beginning on the Coleman side and then skiing down the Park Glacier to Ptarmigan Ridge and on to Artist Point. Starting up the trail at 6 a.m. we reached the summit in five and a half hours and in five more we arrived at my car at the ski area.

Navigating off the summit and down the Park Glacier was a serious (and
frightening) challenge. Looking at our route from below, it appeared we made all the right choices; I would not have wanted to backtrack underneath some of the nasty rocks above the steep slopes of the Park Headwall. And it was difficult to enjoy the turns knowing what a mine field that glacier is later in the season. The incredible August-like warm conditions and resulting slush along Ptarmigan Ridge made those endless undulations a real slog. We put our skins back on near the bottom of the Park Glacier and didn't get to take them off again until Artist Point.

I ended this exhausting ordeal by dozing off and ditching my car on our way back up the Glacier Creek Road to retrieve Stacy's vehicle. In addition to being lucky enough to find a relatively innocuous place to veer off the road, we were also fortunate to encounter a woman driving down shortly after the mishap and she turned around and drove Stacy back to get his car (otherwise we would have had to walk the remaining three miles - barefoot or in skiboots since we didn't think to leave extra footwear in my car). Then Stacy drove us down to Glacier where I called BJ's Towing to come yank me out.
Pete A

Posts: 844

Re: May 17, 2006 Mt. Baker Watson Traverse
« Reply #1 on: 05/18/06, 12:48 PM »

congrats on pulling off the traverse! sorry to hear about the car....and that the long traverse out needed skins...yuck.

when I talked my friends into doing 'watsons' two years ago we had to stop repeatedly for redbull and coffee on the way home and finally gave up, sleeping at a reststop for about three hours.  hard to do any kind of driving after an epic long day like that.

I'm hoping to do it again in a couple weeks, though my buddies and I already have plans for a second set of car camping gear to be left in the car at the ski area so we can drink beers and collapse immediately afterwards and skip the drive home till the next day.

Posts: 2061

Re: May 17, 2006 Mt. Baker Watson Traverse
« Reply #2 on: 05/18/06, 01:09 PM »

Congrats on completing the trip! You picked rather difficult conditions, but stuck it out.

This week has given us the first sustained bout of really high freezing levels of the spring. There was a good crust last Saturday, but everything has turned pretty slushy this week. I expect that conditions will be much better for traverses like this after the cooler weather comes through this weekend. Although it would extend the season, I'd just as soon not see much new snow at this point, because it would just prolong the slush season.

Conditions could be really good for you in a couple weeks, Pete.
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