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NWAC Avalanche
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2002 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  Trip Reports - December 2002
| | |-+  Dec 28-31 oops to Jan 3, 2003, Crystal-White Pass
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Author Topic: Dec 28-31 oops to Jan 3, 2003, Crystal-White Pass  (Read 39155 times)

Posts: 266

Dec 28-31 oops to Jan 3, 2003, Crystal-White Pass
« on: 01/05/03, 04:20 PM »

Abstract:  Trip Dates Dec 28 to Dec 31 oops to Jan 3
It was slow going S of Chinook Pass w/ the unconsolidated new snow
and add'l daily storms.  This was lots of work for just two people to
break trail along the PCT.

Despite the tremendous amount of snow and high avalanche terrain, we
saw no avalanche activity except for some day old tracks (class 1,
single pt releases) on the leeward side of Naches Pk on day 2 (Dec
29) and similar class 2 runs on the windward side of pks 6350 and
6388 just S of American Lk.

The area between Crystal Mtn and Bumping R  along the PCT contains
many avalanche prone slopes, most of which we were able to avoid.

Navigating from Bumping R. to White Pass in white-out was no cake

TR by date
Dec 28      Got a late start, not getting to Crystal until 9:30a.m.  We
checked in w/ Crystal Ski Patrol for excellent local reports on avy
conditions and control work.   We talked to the patroller who bombed
Three-Way Pk and decided on heading up the slope they bombed.  We had
a great ski  into Crystal Lk basin, and another down from Sheep Gap.
Camp 1 above hwy 410 (Deadwood Lk?).

Dec 29 We avoided the worst of the avy slopes above hwy 410 by
climbing up into a basin N of the hwy then skiing down to the Chinook
Pass.  Anchors were still visible on the PCT S of Chinook Pass, so we
risked the slopes and skied over to Dewey Lk for water, crossed 3
small steep open slopes then up to Anderson Lk to camp.

Dec 30      We awoke to 6-8" new snow and continued along the PCT to
One Lk drainage.  We lost the PCT at the pass near American Lk.  This
is the same pass where, a month previous, I had stopped for lunch on
my day ski S from Chinook Pass. Along the route we crossed a long
steep slope that had many pt releases w/in the last 48 hrs.  Travel
began to become very strenuous w/ the new snow on the unconsolidated
Visibility was poor.  Taking note of our slow progress, we began
conserving food and fuel (no desert tonight).      Camp above One Lk.

Dec 31      With poor visibility and add'l new snow we missed our
intended route along benches near Two Lk and we traversed steep
slopes to a pt above a pass N of pt 5941.  We thrashed down 80 ft
through cliffs and trees to gain the pass. We then headed over and
around pt 5941 to a pass just E of it.      We managed to find a route
around cliffs and thick trees down to Fish Lk (1800 ft descent).
snow" conditions made this tricky descent a real treat.  To
conserve fuel we camped near Fish Lk and used the remaining daylight
to pre-set a track through deep snow to our next land-mark.

Jan 1  We get worried that we are overdue and still have lots of
miles to go.  The snowpack refuses to consolidate although no new
snow falls until noon.      We make our way S up a gentle drainage
(Bumping R.) using the stream as a hand rail and find the pt where
the PCT (invisible under snow these last days) crosses the stream.
In this area, despite heavy snow and open meadows, we were able to
follow the PCT (mostly
following straight lines and tree blazes) all the way to confusing tr
junctions near Snow Lk.  We camped at dark, still looking for Snow
Lk, but finding water.

Jan 2
The snow was deep, the blazes were confusing, and the terrain
difficult to read.  We finally just followed a SSE bearing towards
other large landmarks which we also managed to miss in the fog.
Finally we came out at a high pt above Buesch Lk.  During a brief
lifting of the clouds, we could see White Pass Ski area strait S of
us (magnetic).      Camp at Buesch Lk just as it starts to rain hard.

Jan 3 Despite the rain, the only skiable crust is in the trees.
Fortunately there are lots of trees. We missed our intended landmark
above Buesch Lk, took a
bearing, and ended up in Dog Lk drainage (N fk Clear Cr?)  instead of
the Sandy Lk flats.  We skied down, and down, and down to Dog Lk
where we met the HWY, walked up to some yelling noises (kids on
sleds) and were met by Yakima Co. SAR.

The End.


I picked this rt at this time of yr because of its low elevation, the
low snow pack w/ visible anchors and the fact that the terrain gets
safer the farther S you go.  The area is also below tree-line, and
therefore sheltered from the weather.  I love exploring, and I had
never been to the center of this area.      I knew the navigation on the
S end would be fun and challenging.

Brian, Chris, and I left my car at White Pass after Christmas when we
went to ski the Hogs Back.
Despite arm twisting, I could not get these two to come on the
traverse.  Brian said something about a wedding.  I attempted a
little 11th hr recruiting as well, to no avail.  It was left to NV
and me to break all the trail.      I expected the snow to consolidate as
it usually does after a day or so, but the temps remained cold and
the snow kept building up.

We each carried 2 to 2.5 lbs of food per day for the expected 4 days.
Our packs, fully loaded, started out weighing about 25 lbs.  We
brought 44oz of fuel total and melted snow 3 nights (and had 11 oz
left over at the end.)      Generally I allow for 11 oz per person per
day Ė which gives you enough fuel to melt 6qts of water, cook two
meals, have hot drinks, and boil up a hot water bottle for your feet.

My feet get cold at night, so I brought along a pocket warmer that
burns naphtha or white gas.  I found it would burn all night in my
bag, warm up my feet, and dry out my fleece glove and still be hot
for a few hrs in the morning.  I kept it handy in the a.m. to warm up
my boot liners and heat my hands after fine work w/ naked fingers in
the snow.

Our shelter was a 2.5 lb Mega-Mid w/ skis to anchor the corners and
an avy ski-pole for the center-pole.  Each night we would stomp out a
platform for the Mega-Mid and usually dig a kitchen.  The snow was so
unconsolidated that even after a good stomping the platform would not
hold your weight w/o skis.  Thus, by morning we were each sleeping in
small bath-tub like depressions.  After a night or two we perfected
the system of stomping out a trench around the Mega-Mid for use as a
place to dump the accumulated snow during the night.

Other than my gloves, I stayed dry until after day 4.  NV, however,
will break into a sweat just standing still, so I passed the pocket
warmer off to him at night to help him dry out.  My Feathered Friends
Gore-Tex over bag lost maybe 30% of its loft at its wettest.  NVís FF
20 degree bag lost up to 60% due to sweating.  He is all for getting
another NF Catís Meow (synthetic).

I wore mostly just med wt under-wear under my Gore-Tex shell and
expedition wt equivalent while in camp.  I would ski out wearing camp
clothing, then reach in and zip off my exp wt pants and shirt when
things warmed up.

Skiing to dark was not an issue, but it was really hard to get
started before we had an hr of light in the morning.  It sometimes
took us 3 hrs to get moving, and getting up earlier in the dark did
not help much.      It seems things take twice as long to organize in the
dark, even w/ headlamps and a candle lantern lighting the way.

NV was on randonee gear, and so had to wear skins most of the time. I
was on bc gear w/ fish-scales and had more flexibility Ė but due to
the very light snow, I had my skins on almost as often as NV.

This is the first trip where Iíve actually lost some weight.  Usually
I gain it.  My thighs are now strong enough to win a kicking contest
w/ a mule.
We found Maxi-Glide worked great for everything from frozen tight ski
poles, to sticky snow on skis and bindings, to frozen skins.

Help me perfect the Hamaker temperature scale.

1.      Power Bars are chewy (70 deg F)
2.      Naked is cold (50 deg F)
3.      Snow is cement (40 deg F)
4.      Chocolate brittle and hard to chew (35 deg F)
5.      Cheese and caramel is rock-hard (30 deg F)
6.      Bagels break your teeth(25 deg F)
7.      Water bladder tubes freeze, even after blow-back (20 deg F)
8.      The water in your Nalgene forms ice crusts even as you
travel, breath freezes to all surfaces, damp clothing freezes into
abstract shapes (15 deg F)
9.      You can entertain yourself by watching ice crystals grow in
your water bottle, spilled spit and hot chocolate freeze as you
watch. (10 deg F)
10.      Breathing cold air freezes in your lungs and is exhaled as
tiny snow crystals.  Snot freezes before you can wipe it away. (5 deg

« Last Edit: 01/06/03, 05:11 AM by admin » Logged

Posts: 1090

Re: Dec 28-31 oops to Jan 3, 2003, Crystal to Whit
« Reply #1 on: 01/06/03, 05:10 AM »

Congratulations not only on making it, but also for deftly avoiding getting sucked very far into the media circus! Thanks for the detailed TR, and the extra details in the Logistics section. I've been to the Tumac Mountain shield area in winter and know that the navigation there is very difficult because of the gentleness of the terrain and the lack of views due to the forest. But it is a great place to go exploring on skis and use navigation skills.

I'm curious about Maxiglide and frozen skins - how did you use them together? I have assumed that Maxiglide could interfere with the adhesion of skins to the skis and so have been cautious about using it when I will be skinning.

Posts: 266

Re: Dec 28-31 oops to Jan 3, 2003, Crystal-White P
« Reply #2 on: 01/06/03, 05:52 AM »

>>? I have assumed that Maxiglide could interfere with the adhesion of skins <<

We used the Maxiglide on the fuzzy side to displace water.

Posts: 130

Re: Dec 28-31 oops to Jan 3, 2003, Crystal-White P
« Reply #3 on: 01/06/03, 11:58 AM »

still sounds better than going to work . thank you for recounting it for us . thank you very much .

Posts: 16

Re: Dec 28-31 oops to Jan 3, 2003, Crystal-White P
« Reply #4 on: 01/06/03, 02:18 PM »

Thanks for the TR, James. †We were beginning to get worried about you. †Especially after Nick and group's accident. †I think you had lots of folks from this forum, the CC forum and the Mountaineers saying some prayers. †It was a real pleasure to hear the news reports that you'd arrived safely. †BTW, don't Maxiglide bases and expect skins to stick; it don't work! †I too have a FF 20į bag (with the Goretex shell). †But I nearly always take a VBL both for the extra warmth in really cold conditions and for the sweat/moisture containment in warmer times. †You still have to wear underwear even when it's warm to avoid that wet, clammy sensation (keep the neck open to vent as much as possible) but at least the VBL and undies are easy to dry out and the bag will stay dry and lofted! †Good on ya, guys! †Smiley
« Last Edit: 01/06/03, 02:19 PM by Tim » Logged

Posts: 22

Re: Dec 28-31 oops to Jan 3, 2003, Crystal-White P
« Reply #5 on: 01/06/03, 02:50 PM »


Would you elaborate on that 25lb. packs contents?  That's an amazing # for a trip like that.  If I was doing that trip in the spring, i'd probably have 35 or 40lbs.  I must be doing something wrong, eh?

Posts: 266

Re: Dec 28-31 oops to Jan 3, 2003, Crystal-White P
« Reply #6 on: 01/08/03, 04:43 PM »

Pack weight:  Start w/ 40lbs, take out one lb for every yr of experience.

We knew we would be mostly below tree-line so we knew emergency heat and shelter would not be a problem.

2lb down Feathered Friends overbag w/ Goretex shell (4" of loft)
Ridge-rest deluxe- full lenth.
Underwear: med wt, exp wt, fleece jkt, down vest, light Gortex shell, gloves, mittens, overmits, 1x spare socks (sleeping)  Its almost an art to keep all this dry.
8oz. siltarp to sleep on.
Body recovery tranciever, shovel, skins, plastic boots and over-gators (x-gators).

We split the wt of the repair kit.  I carried the pole and ski splints and the Maxi-glide.  NV carried the vise-grips, epoxy, screws etc.

Having no climbing eqpt reduces weight by a *lot*.

Extras:  Candle lantern and 1 pr booties for the party.

I dunno, sometimes I go through my stuff and weigh everything out and pick the lightest one that will do the job.  For example, if you have 6 med wt shirts - weight them all and bring the lightest.

One half lb butter to add callories to flimsy dehydrated meals.

When I first became weight consious, I started bringing smaller packs and stuffing stuff in.  Stuff that did not fit did not come.  Now I bring a bigger pack (easier to dig around in), but put the same stuff in as when I had a smaller pack.  Your balance is generaly better when the pack is small and loaded correctly.
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