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NWAC Avalanche
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2008 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  January 2008 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  January 19 - 23, Washington Pass
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Author Topic: January 19 - 23, Washington Pass  (Read 2277 times)

Posts: 278

January 19 - 23, Washington Pass
« on: 01/24/08, 06:28 PM »

It had been a dream of mine for many years to re-explore the Washington Pass area in the winter.
This year, it finally came together as I met my friend Jim from Jackson in Twisp on Friday night. He had graciously dragged his two snow mobiles from Bozeman at 55 mph.
We embarked with overcast skies with a fully loaded sled towed behind the larger of the two snow machines with the idea of camping at the Overlook. That plan did not come together as the snow was deep and the last and largest avalanche path had covered the road with a 50 ft berm, of course some real sledheads punched through it in the subsequent days. We instead turned back after burying the sleds many times and set up camp at the Cutthroat lake TH, thereafter re-christened camp "frosty balls" and made another run for gas and supplies, sledding into Mazama for gas and coffee.
The 20th we skied up towards Cutthroat Pass in bad vis and poor snow, much wind effect and thick trees. That evening things got frosty with temps near zero by the morning of the 21st.
The 21st we parked the sleds at the hairpin and skied the road to Blue Lake and then up to the saddle below Blue Lake Peak. Had a nice run on the west side and then back out in time to see the heli folks drop people down the chute to the hairpin, it did not slide.
The 22nd, after another frosty night, we did a run down the west side of the EW group cirque and then a run down the wind packed chute to the hairpin, which was kind of wind effected snow. North slopes were wind affected and variable, south facing slopes looked scary with crust and sun warming.
Jan 23 was a rest day in town and the decision was made, based on very cold temps and only average snow conditions to bail on the last couple of days of the trip. A frosty trip back up to break camp and off we went.
Was amazing to have the Liberty bell/EW spires to ourselves (although the heli folks threatened to invade, they never did). The really good lines appear hard to get to without spending the whole day under hang fire and the days were short. The locals were mostly skiing closer to town and likely knew where the good goods were.  An amazing piece of real estate in the winter, a pain to get to, which I think is what has saved it so far. Felt more like AK then WA.

Posts: 213

Re: January 19 - 23, Washington Pass
« Reply #1 on: 01/24/08, 09:12 PM »

Thanks for that window into your travels. I have always wanted to get up in there in winter as well. I'd bet those slopes up by lib bell this winter have to be pretty loaded. Had the wind done its damage up that way as well?

Posts: 1717

Re: January 19 - 23, Washington Pass
« Reply #2 on: 01/24/08, 10:08 PM »

 Cool!  Rugged trip even on snomos.  Picture a winter ascent in there before sleds/roads....

There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
George Santayana
Kevin Steffa

Posts: 92

Re: January 19 - 23, Washington Pass
« Reply #3 on: 01/25/08, 11:04 AM »

Thanks for the report - I have had that dream myself, though unrealized, and have stuck to exploring the environs reachable by road end at mazama so far...


Cold nights for camping indeed! I have often dreamed of a modest backcountry hut, placed in the footprint of the summer overlook area, it would make a nice friendly base for exploring in winter, BC style...

- Kevin

- Mossman
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