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| | |-+  Apr 7-8 Silverstar Glacier, N. Cascades
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Author Topic: Apr 7-8 Silverstar Glacier, N. Cascades  (Read 1721 times)
PeterC
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Apr 7-8 Silverstar Glacier, N. Cascades
« on: 04/09/07, 08:47 AM »

My friend Peter and I skied the Silverstar Glacier route this weekend.  I'd emailed the WSDOT person in charge of the E part of the N. Cascades Hwy clearing earlier in the week and found out that the road is now open to the Silverstar gate (right at the start of the Silverstar route).  There's also a large plowed parking area at this point.  After a 4.5 hr drive from Seattle, team Peter left the car.  I was surprised to see several cars full of other skiers leaving at the same time as us - I thought we were the only ones w/ the inside info.  We followed the other skiers down the road for a while until we realized they weren't going up Silverstar Creek - which leaves directly across from where we had parked!  I wonder where they were going?

Once on track we found the going quite reasonable if tiring.  There's about 3' of snow at the parking area, so we could skin the whole way.  We left the car at ~9am and got to camp at 6500' at ~3pm (taking it easy).  Views from the top were spectacular. 


I'd brought my new BD Firstlight tent and dug a nice deep hole/wall to set it in as a windbreak.  It got quite windy overnight and I'm glad I took the time.  I think that tent lies somewhere on the spectrum of work/weight between a 4-season tent and a snow cave:  less weight to carry but more work to set up securely. 

The other Peter had been working too much and not sleeping enough, so rousing him in the morning proved quite difficult.  Eventually I succeeded and we set off for the summit under midlevel clouds at around 9am.  We'd brought glacier gear but never felt we needed it.  I'm not saying skiing unroped on a known glacier is a smart idea (don't sue me if you fall in and die), but we saw no crevasses or droops on route and the snowpack seemed quite deep.  If I were to go again next week I'd go sans rope...

We reached the Silverstar Col at around 11am and bagged our summit plans because it was windy, foggy, and just downright unpleasant.  The top headwall was actually nice powder, but lower than that it was fairly variable w/ some slush, some ice and some crust.  It skied much better than I expected, though.  I wonder if my good feelings have something to do w/ the fact that this was my first trip on AT gear after teleing the last 8 yrs...  I have to say that AT is easier.

The snow (and our packs) were quite heavy as we skied out, making for a bit of an ordeal.  My splitboarder friend (jasong) was thinking of coming and I think it was better he didn't - the middle third of the deproach is quite flat and would be poor splitboarding.  The following picture is taken looking downvalley toward the road.  You can see that there's a large flat section that would be require switching back to split mode.  The densely treed sections were hard and bumpy, adding further challenge for our already tired legs.


I did learn a new trick for fast deproaches on flats, though.  The glue-side of one of the other Peter's skins got wet, causing the skin to fall off.  Instead of putting it back on, Peter went w/ one skin on, one off.  This proved to be very efficient on the rolling and traversing terrain and I soon followed suite.  By going skinless on the downhill ski of our general traverse direction, we were able to cruise at ~95% skinless speed, but still able to skin over rollers fairly easily.  I'd advise trying it next time you're slogging out a valley.
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