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NWAC Avalanche
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2003 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  July-August 2003 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  July 18, 2003, Spray Park, Flett Gl, Mt. Rainier
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Author Topic: July 18, 2003, Spray Park, Flett Gl, Mt. Rainier  (Read 1985 times)

Posts: 1090

July 18, 2003, Spray Park, Flett Gl, Mt. Rainier
« on: 07/19/03, 10:25 AM »

With the discussion which followed my report from this area a week ago, I figured I needed to go back and try to see the snow from a new perspective. Besides, originally planning to do an overnight trip earlier this week, I had stashed my skis, poles, and boot shells in Spray Park, and I needed to get them. It was a magnificant day - cloudless, warm, but with enough cooling breeze to make it pleasant. I saw a black bear in lower Spray Park, where the avalanche lillies seem to have peaked but others like paintbrush and shooting star are starting.

I followed the trail to its high point, then traversed E over snow and rocks to the web of snowfields which lies between Seattle Park and Echo Rock. This snow looked, for some reason, better than what I'd seen last week, so I skied several ribbons of snow as far as I could - generally to ~6200' overlooking Seattle Park - nice, not runneled, small ripples for suncups. I then skied upward toward Echo Rock, thinking that maybe the snow had gotten better over the last week. Crossed some rocks and skied to the top of the eastern lobe of the Flett, right under Observation Rock. Unfortunately, the majority of the snow on this part of the Flett hadn't gotten any better, mainly due to runnels, but the steep top section was still pretty smooth and I did a run on it.

I then circumnavigated Observation Rock, clockwise, which involved crossing several rock gaps plus one longer scree slope on the south side of Observation, and very few turns. The scenery, however, is well worth the lack of turns, with views first of a barren volcanic landscape and then of the entire North Mowich Glacier and Mowich Face. As I came across the western and central parts of the Flett along the north side of Observation, I could see that most of the slopes were still fairly runneled, but I appreciated their quality more this week because of my new outlook on July snow. The steep Flett headwall still had nice looking snow, and was now sporting a few turns. I crossed to the eastern Flett, skied down along my morning's tracks, and, with two rock crossings, was able to ski to my shoes at the top of Spray Park. The hike out was mostly in shade and pleasant, and the glow of the setting sun filtering through the trees on the traverse back to Mowich Lake was beautiful.

My new view of the snow in this area is that, for July, it's really not that bad! I have come to expect better, but it could have been much worse. With all of the hot weather, the snow is melting fast and almost all of the connections between the various snowfields are gone. The steep slopes still have good snow, but are quite short for the effort to get to them. For those who don't mind multiple carries, however, the touring is still great and gives access to some incredible scenery.
Pete A

Posts: 845

Re: July 18, 2003, Spray Park, Flett Gl, Mt. Raini
« Reply #1 on: 07/21/03, 03:20 AM »

...I tried to get up there yesterday...had a flat tire at the Paul Peak trailhead...used my can of flat fixer, but the hole was big enough the flat-fixer didn't work, just oozed out of the tire. Changed to the mini-spare and limped back to civilization rather than take a chance going on up to the trailhead. lame....
hoping to get the boards on my feet next sunday, hopefully there will be something worthwhile to ski.
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