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| |-+  July 2007 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  July 26, 2007: Flett, Obs Rock, a little Russell
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Author Topic: July 26, 2007: Flett, Obs Rock, a little Russell  (Read 2645 times)

Posts: 634

July 26, 2007: Flett, Obs Rock, a little Russell
« on: 07/28/07, 01:05 AM »

Third flanks-of-Rainier trip this July, hit every compass point except West (where lack of road discourages daytrip skiing anyhow to the best of my knowledge). Took Knapsack way in, great flowers just as soon as you emerge from forest. There and in Park proper, excellent Av lily, paintbrush, yellow louseworts, lupine, some shootingstar in wet spots, and heather at height of bloom. Trail and Spray Park delightfully quiet on this weekday.

Just a little snow for walking far side Knapsack, just enough in fact to cover the worst of the boulder field. Bugs started in earnest atop Knapsack. 20% DEET and brisk pace kept them partially at bay but over the day they took their toll. The worst psychologically were the deer flies that just would not go away. Bugs remained even to the rockwall camp / water source just under the Flett. And intrepid deerflies continued their pursuit onto the very glaciers. Sheesh.

Skins on at the rockwall camp, skinned East Flett on nice snow, then crossed rocks and moraine maybe 50yrds to the Russell (no all snow way remains). I was a little disappointed with the looks of the Russell from here. There was more bare ice than I would have thought. Most notably the two best steep pitches off the knolls at 9K and 8K were down to ice. Fair number of crevasses showing. Most were just thin leads, but there were a few that widened into galleries that I wouldn't have expected on a shallow and slow moving glacier like that. I decided not to bother with the full Russell trip, since the first portion is kinda sidehill anyways and the second portion looked to already be partially out. At least it did from there... Anyways I was sort of on a slackers pace this day and the full Russell might have been out of range. Instead I just took a 700' run right along the western edge where the snow was smooth and soft and there were no ice patches or cracks in the snow. Very nice. An interesting auditory phemon was heard here - lots of rushing water from within the glacier, and in one particular spot the sound was markedly filtered into a particular frequency band, the kind of sound you get from within a tunnel sometimes. Probably a particular mouline or crevasse opening? mighta been cool to snoop it out.

Lower Russell from ~6500 up

What to do next? Decided to go up and over Obs Rock and have a look at that headwall. Took advantage of a nice boottrack up the steeper snow above East Flett left by the only others I saw above snowline that day and spoke to earlier, two climbers headed for Mowich Face. Back into approach shoes for the extensive kitty litter action required to top out Obs Rock. Great view from up there.

Russell from Obs Rock .... actually, from here it looked pretty tasty! Why didn't I ski that again? Hmmm ...

More catbox stomping to get down the other ridge and onto the curiously flat snowpatch atop the headwall. Geared up with some trepidation here, as I'd not dropped the headwall before and here it was midweek, later in afternoon, the headwall snow itself untested, and me solo. Peeking over the side though it looked entirely possible. First few turns rather inelegant until I got the feel of the (nice!) snow and could stop jumping and start carving. Whee!

The headwall has one bare spot bout top middle but otherwise still snow covered. There was a rocky patch below headwall proper that'll require a brief dismount. Lower West Flett and Flett area in general was in some of the best shape I can remember. Very small cups/nubbins, but just fine when soft, and rocks/dirt/runnels pretty minimal. The great snow here was making up for the disappointment of the Russell. From thence, a classic magic carpet of connecting snow led past (still brown) Cateye (Catbutt?) Lake, taking me to within a few yards of the pretty meadows and ponds of outer Spray Park. And back of course to my winged tormentors, who wasted no time in feasting once more.

East Flett, headwall and tracks. Go get some!

Helpful post ski technique: one can cool a previously very warm can of beer very quickly by packing snow around it endwise, spinning it around in its snow-hole, pack snow again, repeat. Nicely chilled in under 2 minutes. mmmmm.

Hike out again via Knapsack. I think I'm sold on this route over the main trail permanently now. From the dismount it was easy to find way trails and easy wandering that led right to where that route branches off, without wasting any elevation. The two 200ish climbs go quick enough on way out and it is so much prettier to look unto mountains and Mist Park than is the other trail. The only downer is that you do catch your ski tails a lot on the steeper buckets coming down the lake side of Knapsack.

Posts: 479

Re: July 26, 2007: Flett, Obs Rock, a little Russell
« Reply #1 on: 07/28/07, 02:39 PM »

Nice report Wolfs - I enjoyed reading it.  I'd trade a few bugs done here in Oregon for some more snow - it's pretty thin right now.  I liked the 3rd picture with the turns - it's got me looking forward to getting my August turns!

There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty." - Theodore Roosevelt

Posts: 178

Re: July 26, 2007: Flett, Obs Rock, a little Russell
« Reply #2 on: 07/29/07, 10:51 AM »

Nice tracks ya made on the headwall, that thing's steep!  And I appreciate you passing along your beer cooling technique, I'll give that a shot!
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