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Author Topic: July 1, 2006, Three Fingers Lookout  (Read 3418 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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July 1, 2006, Three Fingers Lookout
« on: 07/01/06, 11:54 PM »



Three Fingers from the trail below Saddle Lake.  The rightmost point is a subsidiary summit of the south peak and is not counted as one of the fingers.  Our ski descent followed the narrow glacial finger (with cracks) between the south peak and this subsidiary point.


Adam Clark and I skied Three Fingers from Goat Flats today.  I've seen a few entries over the years by skiers in the Three Fingers lookout register.  But it doesn't seem to be a popular destination for skiers because of the low ratio of skiing to hiking most of the time.  To make the trip really worthwhile for skis, you need to catch it after the road to Tupso Pass opens up but before Goat Flat melts out.  In most years, early to mid June is probably best.  This year, conditions were still good on July 1.

We left Seattle at 4:30 a.m. and started hiking the Goat Flat trail about two hours later.  We hit snow near timberline, around Columbine and Noble Lakes, and put on skis just before Goat Flat.  Beyond Goat Flat, the trail traverses a steep south facing slope.  I thought it would be poor for skis, so we took a north-side detour to the 5560+ foot saddle just SW of point 5788'.  From there we crossed to the south side of the ridge and followed the trail route to Tin Can Gap (with a few hundred feet of bare ground near the top).

We skied onto the Queest-Alb Glacier and skinned to its extreme SE corner.  From there we climbed talus and dry trail for a few hundred feet, then put on skis again for the last snowfield to the summit rocks.  Altogether, we were able to ski about 90% of the distance from Goat Flat to the summit rocks, remarkable for such a "ridgy" route.

After lunch at the lookout, we skied the appealing snow finger just SW of the summit.  The finger had several cracks opening up, and we couldn't see from above or below whether the descent would go.  Fortunately, by weaving back and forth we found a way through.  There were a few short steep bits, but nothing too sustained. Once down the finger we enjoyed wide-open skiing to the flats of the Queest-Alb Glacier.  We skinned back to Tin Can Gap, then retraced our route home.

With the right conditions, this is a surprisingly good ski trip.  Of the 14 miles round trip, we skied about 40% of it.  The route-finding is interesting and if the snow finger is not passable skiing down the standard route would still be fun.  Our trip took about 9-1/2 hours round trip (followed by two hours coping with a dead battery in Adam's jeep).



Upper-left: On the north side detour west of Tin Can Gap.  Upper-right: Climbing ladders to the summit lookout.  Lower-left: Skiing the Queest-Alb snow finger.  Lower-right: Climbing to Tin Can Gap from the Queest-Alb Glacier. 
« Last Edit: 10/06/06, 08:07 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
jd
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Re: July 1, 2006, Three Fingers Lookout
« Reply #1 on: 07/02/06, 08:41 AM »

Thanks for the beta Lowel, I've been planning to climb 3 Fingers this summer, but didn't think about taking skis - gotta get up there this week and repeat your trip!
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Zap
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Re: July 1, 2006, Three Fingers Lookout
« Reply #2 on: 07/02/06, 09:17 AM »

Nice adventure. Yesterday, Jill and I were returning from Camano Island with our grandsons and as we were driving south on I-5, I viewed Mt. Rainier and mentioned we would be skiing there.  He pointed to Three Fingers.  He must have seen you.  Wink

Zap
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a_clark
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Re: July 1, 2006, Three Fingers Lookout
« Reply #3 on: 07/05/06, 08:28 AM »

This was quite a hike/ski. A fair amount of walking for a brief bit of skiing. Even though the  the skiing portion was short, it was quite sporting. Just enough to make the walking worth it.
Lowell, thanks for putting out the invitation. It was good to ski with you. Next time I leave in the dark and arrive at the trailhead in daylight, I'll have to remember to turn off my headlights.
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