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| | |-+  June 11, 2006 Pilchuck (the last hoorah)
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Author Topic: June 11, 2006 Pilchuck (the last hoorah)  (Read 1601 times)
jt
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June 11, 2006 Pilchuck (the last hoorah)
« on: 06/13/06, 02:05 PM »

Not wanting to drive very far and not being in the mood for a big dose of suffering and adventure, Pilchuck was an obvious choice and with this trip, it was time to close the books on this mountain for the year. Plus I had been trying to coax a friend who is a developing skier and joins me often on the lifts into a backcountry ski trip and this was a good one to twist his arm with. It worked. The promise of rising above the fog blanketing the city, of a good workout in a wonderful alpine setting, and of terrain not beyond his skiing ability worked and we off from the trailhead at 9:20am.

It was nice to hike up the trail at a leisurely pace, enjoying the sunshine filtering through the trees, the babbling of streams swollen with spring melt, flowers blooming, and fragrant skunk cabbage. A little over a mile up the trail I reached for the camera around my neck only to suddenly realize that I had left it sitting on top of my car. So much for leisure. I dropped my pack while Mike continued, ran back down the trail, ran back up, then caught Mike shortly after reaching continuous snow after breaking out of the woods. Coverage was still impressive given the date and I was confident we'd find some fun turns on the way down. I pointed out the route we would ski off to the east of us, some other lines that are fun earlier in the season, and holes and rocks that we would want to avoid.

The boot track was well-kicked and at the last little rise to the notch near Little Pilchuck rose steeply, taking the straight line up rather than the normal switchback track of the trail then it was march, march, march to the summit. Mike stuck to the boot track while I chose to scramble the ridgeline since I always enjoy the fun boulders and exposure at the ridge crest. We met at the lookout, enjoyed the views and swirling clouds, then went over to the top of "The Gunsight". There we had a snack and enjoyed a cold Olympia (I chased mine with a shot or two of Hornitos and a fresh slice of lime), yummmy!

Standing at the top of Gunsight, I suggested that Mike follow my tracks since the pitch was anything but complete, broken by rocks poking out and ending in a field of boulders about midway down the gully. At least the snow was soft and carved easily. A few jump turns later skis came off and we booted down the rest of the gully then up a short ways to the notch leading to "Ice Cream Ridge" for the fun stuff.

Another shot of tequila, a squirt of lime, and we were on our way down the ridge. The shot down the fall line looked good, but I wasn't certain if it continued all the way so decided to traverse and angle high, staying near the ridge crest, not wanting to subject Mike to climbing back up or downclimbing if we got cliffed out nor wanting to make him ski sparse snow in dicey positions. We rolled over one knoll, skirted some rocks and avoided some holes, then rolled over another and another doing the same. The scenery was great with broken clouds and sunshine and the snow was great with a firm base and not-so-grabby melt layer. Soon enough we were down to the creek, crossed it easily, and booted back up to the top of the clear cut. We tried to ski more but soon enough gave up as connecting the dots of snow became more trouble than it was worth. We bushwhacked and postholed a short distance to the alternate trail then marched out to the car on the dry spots between 4x4 muddy ruts.

What a great day it was to give Pilchuck a last hoorah for the ski year.

A few pictures are posted at the following links:

where the snow runs out in "The Gunsight"

cruising the rollers

avoiding the rocks and holes
« Last Edit: 06/14/06, 09:24 AM by jonthomp » Logged

jt
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