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| |-+  Sept.-Oct. 2003 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascades
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Author Topic: September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascades  (Read 2168 times)
skip
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September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascades
« on: 09/30/03, 08:28 AM »

For our first TAY anniversary, Kam and I felt something beyond our typical Rainier trip was in order.  The question, however, was where.  We called upon the services of Chris Cass who, upon referencing his curiously large collection of North Cascades USGS quads, forwarded his recommendation: Goat Mountain, north couloir.

The north couloir is accessible via bushwhacking from the Twin Lakes campground, and, based upon maps and collective memory, seemed as though it held year-round snow.  All agreed upon this choice, and we made our way to Twin Lakes Saturday night to recon our Sunday ski. Upon arrival, we discovered a slight problem: no snow.  All that remained of the north couloir was two rotten, narrow shoots beneath a blue-ice headwall. (Note: this is a worthy candidate for late-June / early July 2004).

We considered alternatives in the area, deciding we would first climb Winchester Mountain to shoot sunrise photos and then drive to Ptarmigan Ridge for a short ski.  

During the deliberation process, Chris noted that he had heard of a stash in the Winchester area that held snow all year, but that he wasn't certain as to its whereabouts.  With much good fortune, and quite by accident, we came across it the next morning at 6100'.  After shooting photos of the sunrise (which was incredible) we hiked down to the trucks then back up to the stash, bailing our Ptarmigan Ridge plans.  Incredibly, we found ourselves to be the only skiers on the mountain and were able to lay down first tracks on beautiful, untouched corn:



Had it been my decision, we would have yo-yo'd this stretch all afternoon - it was that good.  We could have easily gotten 1000' out of it after 30, maybe 35 cycles.  But to appease the others, we moved to a much larger stash on the northern aspect of the saddle west of Winchester's peak.  In fact, there were two ski-able stretches on this WNW side of the mountain: one beginning at the saddle (6200') and a small, second patch above it (6350') - each reached by a short ramble north of the lookout trail.

We reached the top of the saddle at noon with all hopes the sun would have softened the snow from its condition at 8:00.  Presently, it became apparent the sun would be softening none of the 400' of the lower run.  We skied it anyway.

Were it not for the bullet-proof sun cups, the many rocks, and the heavy blanket of dirt, it would have been a brilliant run.  As it was, however, I say only that it served its purpose; September was in the bag.  (Chris additionally skied the upper stretch, alone, later telling Kam and I it was far, far better than the lower section we all had skied.  Chris' character being questionable at best, we simply nodded our heads and started down.)

All in all, it was a lovely day, skiing notwithstanding.  It was the group consensus this would be a good tour for early summer, offering much more vertical and better snow (it just has to be) than we found.  One may reconsider an October trip, however.



« Last Edit: 09/30/03, 12:12 PM by skip » Logged
ron j
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Re: September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascade
« Reply #1 on: 09/30/03, 03:19 PM »

Animals.
You guys are animals, Skipper.
So did ya get and pics of the other snow patches?
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"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
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Jim Oker
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Re: September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascade
« Reply #2 on: 09/30/03, 03:25 PM »

Incredible, truly. This is the best report I've read all summer! I can't wait for October now!
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skip
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Re: September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascade
« Reply #3 on: 10/01/03, 04:37 AM »

Ron,

I finally broke down and opened a webshots account, that I might post you some pics.  You can find the pick of the litter for this trip at:

http://community.webshots.com/album/92875382ETXYMn

Enjoy
-s
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Mad_Dog
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Re: September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascade
« Reply #4 on: 10/03/03, 06:20 AM »

Nice job you guys, thanks for sharing.  

And the desperation of where to ski for October continues  Huh
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There is nothing worse than refusing to learn: this is where old age begins.

Jeanette
Jim Oker
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Re: September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascade
« Reply #5 on: 10/04/03, 07:27 AM »

Indeed.

I have a question for you guys - I hear different things about the road above the Tomyhoi Lake trailhead - that it is truly 4WD only, and that reasonably high clearance 2WD vehicles also make it up there just fine. I've driven the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie road to the end multiple times - I'm wondering if this road is really any less passable than that for the trusty old minivan?

And another question - past years' reports indicate flowing water at the lookout cabin even this time of year - I'm guessing that's not true this year though - did you happen to notice?
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JW
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Re: September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascade
« Reply #6 on: 10/04/03, 02:28 PM »

Sounds like good adventure boys ! Think winter  Cool PS nice photography Skip.
« Last Edit: 10/04/03, 02:31 PM by JW » Logged

"You keep skiing, I'll keep filming"
ema
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Re: September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascade
« Reply #7 on: 10/06/03, 04:41 AM »

jim_oker, the road to twin lakes past tomyhoi TH is truly awful. what you need is not only 4wd, but pretty high clearance. i drove it in a subaru outback last year, but friends with a subaru legacy, whose clearance is just a wee bit less were not able to make it...it is only a couple of miles long though from what i remember.
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skip
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Re: September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascade
« Reply #8 on: 10/07/03, 03:20 AM »

jo-

To add to Ema's message, my thoughts are that clearance is the real boon, 4x4 less important - at least at this time of year (my tune may change were the conditions wet/snowy).

That said, we were up there with a couple of rather small cars, as in "compact" models.  I don't know how they did it, and I'm sure it was ugly, but they were able to make it.  Perhaps it comes down to comfort level.  If dry, with some crafty maneuvers and the willingness to scrape the frame now and again, I wouldn't think it would be too much a problem.

(full disclosure: I drive a Toyota 4x4 with 30" tires)

As to running water in the area, I didn't see any above the foot of the upper snowfield I mentioned; it's ~300' below the summit.
« Last Edit: 10/07/03, 03:45 AM by skip » Logged
Charles
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Re: September 28, 2003: Winchester Mt., N. Cascade
« Reply #9 on: 10/09/03, 06:36 PM »

I've been busy lately and so a bit absent from the TRs, but I want to add my congratulations on your bagging of September and discovery of a new stash. I also enjoyed the photos you posted - definitely looks like late September skiing!
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