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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2003 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  July-August 2003 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  July 18, 2003, Mt. Buckner's South Face
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Author Topic: July 18, 2003, Mt. Buckner's South Face  (Read 4523 times)
Bill f

Posts: 17

July 18, 2003, Mt. Buckner's South Face
« on: 07/23/03, 03:11 PM »

╩ + Climbed NF Buckner
╩ + Skied SF Buckner - nice corn and excellent slope.
╩ + No skiing on Sahale Arm- the snow is already gone below the glacier.
╩ + One long day car-to-car at Cascade Pass TH.
╩ + Would love to do this again, but early season when I could ski all (or at least most) of the way out.

The Long Version:

Inspired by re-read of Lowell Skoog's 1999 account of his one-day climb the NF of Buckner, ski of ╩Buckner's SF and Sahale Arm, and armed with recent information from a Jimmy-O post, my friend Jeromy Waddell (JW) and I set off to climb Buckner's NF and ski its SF as a one day effort. ╩We knew the weather would be good and hoped the snow pack would cooperate with our late July attempt.

On Lowell's trip, he accessed the Boston Glacier via Sharkfin col. ╩The only information that I had on accessing Boston via Sharkfin mentioned a short 5.7 rock move and a double length rappel is required (Nelson - Selected Climbs). ╩JW and I decided it would be faster to go over the top of Sahale and traverse to the Boston Glacier than to rappel onto it, though the traverse below Boston would eliminate one element of the tour, the loop effect of the up Boston Basin and out Sahale Arm. ╩We had planned on simul-soloing up the NF of Buckner and brought two tools to give both arms something to do on the climb. ╩We also each carried a 25mx9mm glacier rope for travel on the Boston.

We started from the car under already warm temperatures somewhat later than hoped, at 6am on Friday from Sahale trail head. ╩On our way up the arm, we were dismayed to find no continuous snow lines below the permanent snow pack at 7200ft. ╩The snow had receded dramatically from what Jimmy had described it two weeks ago. We tennis-shoed our way up to the top of Sahale and tagged its summit by 10am.

We then traversed over to the Boston-Sahale col and began traversing the crumbly rock below Boston Peak. ╩We were a bit too eager to begin the traverse, beginning the traverse lower on the col than necessary and causing the traverse to be unnecessarily long. ╩ We arrived at the Boston glacier 250ft or so below the highest reaching snow of the Boston glacier. ╩

Once on the glacier, we put our boots and skis on to ski over to the base of the NF Buckner. ╩The first few turns were nice corn on a very firm surface below. ╩Just a few hundred feet lower, the slopes had hideous melting-snow runnels. ╩These disappeared as we reached the low point and began traversing. ╩For the few small sections of uphill, we able to climb using the skinless-skinning technique. ╩With the generally flat traverse and the obvious crevasses, we opted not to rope up, and scooted to the base of the NF with relative ease and speed. ╩Jeromy, realitively new to ski-mountaineering, commented that skiing across glaciers is the only travel. ╩It certainly beats walking across them, but I'm preaching to the choir here.

After arriving just below the route, we stopped for a small lunch, cramponed up, and headed up the face at about 12:30. ╩Jeromy, preferring the direct path, charged straight up the face, just climber`s left of center. ╩The shade of the north face was a welcome change from the mid-day sun. ╩When we got to the massive center bergschrund, we passed it easily on the far left side and continued straight up. ╩The slope was in perfect condition for cramponing and made our climb on the lower section easy. ╩Above the schrund, however, the snow became progressively softer. ╩ Though never too soft, it was soft enough that we took turns punching steps on the upper slope. ╩We summitted at 2:00pm to clear, warm, sunny skies to the south, and massive smoke clouds to the east. ╩

The ski down the south face was a big payoff for all the day's work. ╩The south face had the perfect corn and a nice continuous slope to keep the fun going. ╩The slope was long enough that we felt like having our skis was a good payoff. ╩And unlike my previous climb of the NF (when I didn't have skis), I was able to hoot and holler with joy rather than cry with want. ╩The unbelievable view of the Cascades to the south added to the ski.

Near the bottom of the face, we began traversing over to Horshoe Basin. ╩The traverse covered a much greater distance than I had anticipated. ╩Additionally, the snow patches to get us to and across the basin were not continuous. ╩We stopped skiing at around 6000ft and were maybe just 1/3 of the way across the basin towards the climb back to Sahale. ╩We took of our skis and boots and packed them up. ╩This was the last bit of skiing we did for the day. ╩We began our long, unskiable treck back to the car across the scree slopes toward Sahale Arm in the oppressive heat. ╩

When we had finally regained Sahale Arm, we considered for a moment climbing to the top of Sahale and skiing out the Quien Sabe glacier. ╩But exhaustion and Jeromy,s impending tardiness dinner commitment killed off that idea. ╩So, we grudingly hiked down to Cascade Pass,skis and boots again on our backs, and out the long, way-too-switchbacked Cascade Pass trail, arriving back at the cars at around 8:30pm. ╩

This trip would have been spectacular if we'd done it maybe just two weeks earlier, and better yet earlier season when one could ski down to Cascade pass. ╩I was surprised by the lack of snow on Sahale. ╩I seem to remember more snow being there in August in years past (not just 1999), where there was considerable and continuously skiable snow patches on the arm and almost back to Cascade Pass. ╩Still, the trip was a fantastic day trip, where our skis were able to speed us along (if only mentally) for a few turns of fun.

Bill f

« Last Edit: 08/01/03, 05:21 PM by admin » Logged

Posts: 2065

Re: July 18th, 2003 - Mt. Buckner's South Face
« Reply #1 on: 07/25/03, 07:56 AM »

Nice report Bill. Sorry I missed your message before you left. I went on a climbing trip out of town over the weekend, and I haven't visited T-A-Y as often as I might recently.

As you mentioned, doing the Buckner trip a bit earlier would be best. In my old rec.skiing.backcountry post:

I suggested mid-June in most years. If you do it around that time, chances are you can ski all the way down Sahale Arm and the headwall above the parking lot, virtually eliminating any hiking at the end of the trip.

It sounds like you had a good time anyway.
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