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| | |-+  July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face
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Author Topic: July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face  (Read 3602 times)
philfort
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July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face
« on: 07/08/07, 11:36 PM »

Last week, on the drive over highway 2, as we passed the 59'er Diner, I recall Jason and I talking about bailing on Abernathy and doing something up the Chiwawa river valley. My memory isn't great, but I'm pretty sure we were talking about Fernow.  Jason was trying to convince me, and I believe made some excuse about it being too late in the season, and not wanting to do a long approach (slightly injured knee and ankle).

For whatever reason, Fernow sounded like a great idea this past Friday afternoon on the bus ride home from work.  The idea provided the needed cure for the serious lack motivation I had.  Somewhat reluctantly I was planning to try this alone, but luckily when I go home Dave C. gave me a ring. By 9pm we were driving to the Phelps Creek trailhead.



The approach to the basin below the south side of Fernow went smoothly the next morning.  I'd been here once before in September, and the descent down the other side of the col west of 7-finger Jack was a mentally taxing two hour affair on black ice and recently-deglaciated layer of talus on slab.  Today, it was 200ft of loose boulders, followed by a relatively-pleasant-if-bumpy 1000ft ski run which was over in minutes.  Dave didn't seem to enjoy the loose rock at the top, but I tried to remind him that he should be appreciative of the snow cover on the rest of the descent.

We dropped our overnight gear in the basin and rested for an hour. Shortly past 1, we continued up to the next col.  On this ridgeline, two couloirs drop 600ft into the next basin.  Once there, we peered over the top and saw that out approach luck was continuing - continuous snow all the way down.  The skiing was good, and I was feeling pretty stoked to ski a 40 degree couloir on the approach!



Down in the third basin of the day, we hiked on heather, dirt and talus for a quarter mile around a rib until we reached the basin below the north side of Mt Fernow.  Elevation 6500ft.  From here we were able to piece together mostly continous snow to the moraine and skinny glacier below the north face.

The objective was still unseen, hidden behind rock ribs.  More walking brought us to the far east end of the basin where it came into view.  The left side was already in the shade.  I had assumed it would get late day sun.  But the sun seemed to be going down too much, instead of moving more north.  Darn sun. As we climbed, the shady region on the apron grew and grew.  Time to pick up the pace?

Originally I'd hoped to ski the chute which branches off left of the face and climbs an additional 200ft to the east ridge.  Getting into it looked marginal though (sliver of snow above a cliff), and the upper section was brown and mostly melted out.  It might have gone.  But a line straight down from the apex of the apron looked better to me.

Dave hung back at the last pile of rocks where the apron's angle increased to 40+.  Above me it arched ever steeper.  The snow conditions kept changing.  The surface was soft, but smooth glacier ice was not far below.  For much of the upper section, it was a foot of wet snow on top of rock hard ice.  My ice axe shaft would bounce off it.  Luckily the snow was enough to support my feet.  The last few hundred feet steepened to close to 50 degrees, but the footing became more secure where it had gotten less sun.

At the top (~8800ft) I stomped out a platform (no more glacier ice lurking below) and got ready.  My legs were starting to cramp.  I put my pack on and off 3 times being careful not to knock it into the moat (Once is obvious.  Twice because I left my ice axe in the snow.  Three times because as I was about to step into my skis I realized I was still wearing my crampons. A little nervous perhaps?)

The snow turned out to be great for turning.  Only once did I hit a thin section of snow and feel that glacier ice.  Otherwise it was wonderful steep fall line turns.



I met up with Dave, and we continued down the lower part of the glacier/ice apron with views of Bonanza and Dumbbell peaks in front of us.  A loud rockfall on Dumbbell generated a big plume of dust.

Back to our low point at 6500ft, we contoured back into the basin and reversed our route up the approach couloir.  On the other side, a short scree slide and 400ft of skiing brought us back to our camp for the night.

I was looking forward to relaxing and sleeping in on Sunday, but Dave had other plans which hopefully he'll post about.  Ok, well his plans didn't exactly require and early start - we still got to sleep in until 9  Wink.


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ron j
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Re: July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face
« Reply #1 on: 07/09/07, 07:49 AM »

Nice one, Phil.
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"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
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ovrthhills
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Re: July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face
« Reply #2 on: 07/09/07, 08:28 AM »

Great read.  I can relate to the three donning and doffing of the pack.

Michael
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Marcus
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Re: July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face
« Reply #3 on: 07/09/07, 09:07 AM »

Nice work.  I can relate to the pack shenanigans as well, though for me it's as often enthusiasm that's the culprit.  Over the course of a week at Sorcerer Lodge this winter I must have been zipped up, goggled and waiting for others to ski down 5 or 6 times, before realizing that my skins were still on.

Great TR!
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ryanl
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Re: July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face
« Reply #4 on: 07/10/07, 12:21 AM »

That's a great trip Phil- hat's off to you!
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highflyingpilot
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Re: July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face
« Reply #5 on: 07/10/07, 12:58 AM »

Crosspost at TGR do we???  Wink
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cascadianwarrior
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Re: July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face
« Reply #6 on: 07/10/07, 09:24 PM »

Way to nail it!  Like the TGR TR too Grin
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chrism
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Re: July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face
« Reply #7 on: 07/11/07, 07:39 AM »

Did you guys have views west towards Buck Mtn?  How was the snow looking over that way.  I was considering a trip in that area this weekend.   
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philfort
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Re: July 7, 2007, Mt Fernow - North Face
« Reply #8 on: 07/11/07, 08:58 AM »

We did at the trailhead at least, but didn't get any pics.  It seemed to be a lot whiter over there than in the Maude/7FJ/Fernow area.  The benches just above treeline seemed well-covered from what I recall.
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