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Author Topic: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass  (Read 8890 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« on: 05/30/07, 02:07 PM »



David Nicholson (left) and Tom Janisch pause above the White Chuck Glacier on Glacier Peak.


The high country from White Pass to Glacier Peak was the final segment of my effort to ski the Cascade Crest from Mount Baker to Mount Rainier.  On Memorial Day (5/28), Tom Janisch of Wenatchee and David Nicholson and I of Seattle met at the North Fork Sauk River road.  We parked at the Lost Creek bridge, where a road closure sign is posted.  The closure adds about 2.5 miles to the approach.  David and I brought mountain bikes for the road, but Tom had lent out his bike for the day, so he walked.

The morning was cloudy, drizzly and cool after rain the previous night.  We hiked the North Fork Sauk River trail, encountering several blowdowns, but not enough to slow us down significantly.  The crux of the approach was at Red Creek.  A log jam provides an easy creek crossing but the east bank is severely undercut.  We climbed a class-4 dirt pitch out of the creek channel.  Ice axes employed in the piolet duff style were key.  A short hand-line would be helpful here.

From Mackinaw Shelter we climbed to the snowline and traversed the mostly snow-covered trail to White Pass.  The clouds, which were supposed to clear in the afternoon, remained stubbornly in place.  We crossed the east ridge of White Mountain and navigated by altimeter to the White Chuck Glacier.  Around 3:30 p.m. the clouds finally broke and we had a glorious view of Glacier Peak above the mists.  We camped next to the northern lobe of the White Chuck Glacier a little below the Suiattle Glacier divide, a place we dubbed "Windy Rock."



Upper left: Tom returns from an evening ski run.  Upper right: Tom at Windy Rock camp, White Chuck Glacier.  Lower left: Lowell (left), David and Tom on the summit of Glacier Peak.  Lower right: Tom (front) and David ski below the summit of Glacier Peak.


On Tuesday (5/29) we left camp shortly after 6:30 a.m.  The snow was solidly frozen, since Monday night was clear and Sunday's low freezing level hadn't risen much yet. We climbed the Suiattle Glacier using boot or ski crampons to the saddle next to Disappointment Peak.  The final slope to the summit had an outstanding view of the wide-open country we had traveled through.  On top, I scanned the horizon and reflected on completing my Cascade Crest ski project.  Waxing sentimental, I took a 16-shot panorama of the Cascades from Mount Baker to Mount Rainier to commemorate the moment.

Around 10:30 a.m. we began our ski descent from the top.  The initial southwest-facing slope was crusty, but once we dropped onto the east-facing Cool Glacier and crossed to the southeast-facing Suiattle Glacier, we found excellent corn snow.  We admired the marvelous open country south of Glacier Peak and agreed we could happily spend many days skiing there.  Unfortunately we had just two days of provisions with us, so we returned to Windy Rock and packed up.  We savored the views along the traverse to White Pass, country that had been hidden by fog the previous day.  We were able to ski most of the traverse from White Pass to the trail switchbacks above Mackinaw Shelter.  Packing away my skis at timberline I found a sticky coating of pollen on the bases.

The sun was hot during our descent to the valley, very different from Monday's weather. Fortunately, the old forest provided comfortable temperatures on the hike out to the Sloan Creek campground.  After David and I pedaled back to the cars, I concluded that nothing along the closed road was impassible for my Subaru, so I drove back and picked up Tom, saving him time and energy for his long drive home.  We all agreed it had been an outstanding trip. 



David climbs the final slope to the summit of Glacier Peak.  On the upper-right horizon stands Mount Rainier, far, far away. 


This trip completes my 25-year project to ski the Cascade Crest from Mount Baker to Mount Rainier.  In recent weeks, I've written stories documenting this journey on my website.  They can be found here:

Skiing the Cascade Crest

Eventually, I'll add a webpage for this Glacier Peak trip.  In the meantime, here are a couple of links to connect this report into my 18-part story chain:

Previous (The Suiattle High Route) | Next (White Pass to Stevens Pass)
« Last Edit: 08/24/07, 10:03 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
skykilo
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #1 on: 05/30/07, 03:26 PM »

Nicely done, Lowell. 

Edit: Lowell, how did you determine your TOPO mileage correction factor?  TOPO does underestimate mileages in my experience.
« Last Edit: 05/30/07, 03:39 PM by skykilo » Logged
Pete A
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #2 on: 05/30/07, 03:35 PM »

congrats Lowell!
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n_webb
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #3 on: 05/30/07, 03:46 PM »

Congratulations Lowell, thats a magnificent accomplishment. I bet it felt great to stand atop Glacier peak.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #4 on: 05/30/07, 03:50 PM »

Edit: Lowell, how did you determine your TOPO mileage correction factor?

I plotted the route of the Devils loop trail near Jack Mountain and compared the TOPO statistics against the guidebook mileage. I also compared against other routes that I no longer recall, licked a finger and stuck it in the air, and chose +13%. The nice thing is that I've got all the raw and corrected statistics in a spreadsheet and if I decide the correction factor is wrong, I can easily change them.

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Joedabaker
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #5 on: 05/30/07, 04:56 PM »

Wow..Congratulations Lowell on finishing your goal! Also great job, Tom and David!
That is quite an accomplishment and a test of endurance and navigating skills.
How light did you guys pack?
Seems like there would have been more creek crossing than just the one using the ice ax.
Great job!
Joe
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Marcus
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #6 on: 05/30/07, 05:20 PM »

Awesome Lowell -- that's some beautiful terrain.

What's your system with the Megamid (if anything special) -- seems like a great way to get decent spring shelter at light weight.  What kind of pads/tarps do you use underneath?
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #7 on: 05/30/07, 06:55 PM »

What's your system with the Megamid (if anything special) -- seems like a great way to get decent spring shelter at light weight.  What kind of pads/tarps do you use underneath?

Marcus:

This was my first trip using the Beta-light tarp. The tarp is very light and I was happy with the way it performed. I set it up on my ski poles and staked it out using rocks. I shoveled snow onto the edge of the tent on three out of four sides (except the door) to keep the wind out. Inside I put down a homemade ground tarp and slept on a 3/4 length thermarest pad with my pack under my legs. No bivi sack. The tent had some condensation inside in the morning, which occasionally caused a bit of spray when a gust of wind hit. Next time I would bring a wash cloth to swab it dry inside.

Joe:

I don't know how much Tom and David were carrying but they had pretty normal looking overnight packs. I got fanatical and squeezed into my day touring pack. We all tried to go pretty light. According to the statistics on my website, the trip is 35 miles round trip with about 10,000 feet of climbing. That doesn't count the extra 2.5 miles of road each way. It's a long overnight trip, but not outrageously so.
« Last Edit: 05/30/07, 06:58 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Charles
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #8 on: 05/30/07, 09:38 PM »

Another congratulations, Lowell! The map and especially the spreadsheet really show what a huge undertaking this has been. Looking at the last photo, it appears that David decided to take his waxless skis after all. Were there stretches where the fishscales were put to good use?
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ski_photomatt
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #9 on: 05/31/07, 08:02 AM »

Congratulations Lowell, that's quite an accomplishment!  Kudos on the website documenting the trips too.  It reads wonderfully, is well designed and the photos are great.
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summitseeker
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #10 on: 05/31/07, 08:24 AM »


Amazing Lowell! Smiley   Congratulations.  Oh the places you've been. Grin  You've definitely got me motivated to keep on moving.  --Scott
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www.summitroutes.com : Guidebook to the 100 highest peaks in Washington
Paul_Russell
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #11 on: 05/31/07, 08:32 PM »

Congrats Lowell!  Was thinking of you while we were over near Logan hoping your trip worked out. 
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: May 28-29, 2007, Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Reply #12 on: 05/31/07, 09:31 PM »

Eventually, I'll add a webpage for this Glacier Peak trip. 

Done. 

My website documentation, which has been a major project by itself, is finished. For the Glacier Peak segment, see:

Skiing the Cascade Crest - Glacier Peak via White Pass
« Last Edit: 05/31/07, 09:37 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
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