Forums Trip Reports A Year in Review, My 2013 season
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  • #579819
    Kyle Miller
    510 Posts

    It’s weird how time flies by. Each season seems to go by faster than the last and before you know it it’s become spring time and the snow has started melting away, the rivers are rising and the hikers are excited that all the snow is gone. I’ve been fortunate to see Splitboarding grow at such a rapid pace and some are calling this the Golden Age of ski touring. I have been fortunate to have my abilities, friendships and yearning for exploration expand through trip reports written on the internet and I feel very fortunate for that.

    Lately there has been a dilemma of sort that people within the industry understand. When doing a trip with hopes of it getting published in a magazine they want exclusivity and for you to wait to publish it on online forums. So you wait in hopes someone will pick it up and then it somewhat losses value/relevance on the TR forums. Simply put, no money= no rad trips

    I decided to put this TR together in a year in review format to not only highlight the trips but the stories in between that made them so memorable, funny and sketchy to me. I started to feel that if I didn’t actually write them down they would get lost in memory.

    Prelude to the 2013 Season

    Maude and Seven Fingered Jack

    So the story actually starts at the tail end of the 2012 season. For the past 4 seasons I had created projects or ticklists of sort and my plan for the season was to complete riding lines on each of the 9000 foot peaks in Washington. Out of 10 I had 4 left so in April 2012 I was off on a boat up to Holden and on my was towards a snowboard descent of the North face of Mt. Maude w/ Jason Hummel and Brennan Van Lou

    We decided to turn the trip into a three day loop so after we rode the north face of Maude we turned our attention to Seven Finger Jack before heading back to Holden.

    Our intended line was a couloir I had seen from above but had never seen from the bottom. Unsure if it went we chatted for a while and Brennan went to a vantage point and yelled “Yeah it goes” so we dropped in not realizing he meant he could see a ways down it. Well…it didn’t go so we climbed out and found another route to Holden. We Aptly named it the Jacked Couloir.


    Photo by Jason Hummel

    Jack Mountain

    With our mission in Holden done Jason Hummel, Hannah Carrigan and I went deep into the North Cascades to attempt the North Face of Jack Mountain which I had seen on a failed trip to the Pickets two year prior where I thought to myself “damn, I want to ski that someday” so we were off to ski it and on a heading heading to some random shoreline and bushwahcking up the mountains.

    That night we camped at the base of the glacier and got off to an alpine start the next morning hoping to climb on firm snow. A few hours later we made it into the light and were blown away by the scenery surrounding us.

    Our goal was to ride the Nohokomeen Glacier which is around 1,000 feet sustained upper 40 degree pitch so we were happy to find that the main headwall held both climbable and edgeable snow.

    It was a dream come true making it to Jacks summit. I had a few doubts of whether or not the route would even go but it went smoothly. Better yet it turned out to be descent riding conditions.

    When riding big lines there is a moment that you just have to commit and let gravity take over, trusting in your boards. This was one of those moments.


    Photo by Jason Hummel

    We made it back to camp hours earlier then expected so Jason and I decided to go on an afternoon skin to watch the sunset from a vantage point. From where we stopped we could look into the Picket Range, an area that I turned back on years before and has a reputation for its isolation and ruggedness. I looked at those mountains for what seemed like hours.

    Before making our descent back to camp and back down to our boat pick up mid afternoon the next day.

    Mt. Logan

    By then there was one last mountain on my tick list and that was Mt. Logan which just so happens to be the most isolated of the 9000er. Early June Jason Hummel and I Bushwhacked for a full day before making it to the base of Mt. Logan

    Scott McAllister and I had tried to climb the same route the previous October but we were caught dead in our tracks by slide alder but this time we leisurely made our way up the glacier making it to the summit around noon.

    Like that we had completed the 9000er project and we gave each other a celebratory high 5 and started making our way down the mountain.

    Halfway down we ran into this random hole that used to be glacier. To this day I can’t really explain what caused it.

    We got back to the car and as far as we knew it was pretty much the end of the season. I hadn’t really had any plans for missions that I wanted to go on and it was about to be July.

    I got home and took a look at the forecast noticing a week of high pressure it was rare and an opportunity for something big. It was time to go back into the Pickets.

    The Pickets Traverse

    The last time I was in the Pickets I turned back while Jason Hummel and Forest Mcbrian succeeded and a comment was made that “Splitboards just weren’t right for the job” so it was decided that this time it would be an all Splitboard crew. I contacted Frankie Choltco-Devlin and before we knew it him, Seth Holton, Scott Mcallister and I were on a week long traverse.

    We had steeps, cruxes and numerous unplanned route finding issues but we worked together well and halfway through the traverse we decided to go for a bonus descent of the SE face of Fury. The views from the summit were unreal. Untouched mountains surround the area, some vertical faces but most near vertical it reminded me that the Cascades are a fortress of rock.

    The line started off with a steep pitch but quickly mellowed out. Starting off one at a time we rode the lower slopes together.


    Photo by Seth Holton


    Photo by Seth Holton

    The next few days we dealt with cruxes and managed the terrain the best we could passing by Luna and Fury’s North face before camping up on Whatcom peak.

    From here on out we were certain it would be a breeze. We had passed the halfway point and according to the map we would take Easy Ridge to Easy Creek before taking a maintained trail out, sounds easy right?


    Photo by Seth Holton


    Photo by Seth Holton


    Photo by Seth Holton

    It was pretty easy on the ridge so we decided to make our final camp on a flat dry spot right on top. It was perfect, all you had to do was open your eyes and the views were unreal. That night we watched a surreal sunset before getting some much needed sleep.

    Starting at midnight the next 20 hours were anything but easy. First we were awaken by a thunderstorm and had to ride down over a thousand feet via headlamp to hide in the trees and when we woke up we bushwhacked and forged Easy Creek bushwhacking again to the Chilliwack river and out to the Hannigan Pass trailhead.


    Photo by Seth Holton

    I was so happy to get that trip over with. It had lingered in my mind for years and it was awesome going through the trip with 3 totally solid individuals. It was a trip I would never forget.


    Photo by Seth Holton
    Scott, Me, Frankie and Seth

    #675886
    Kyle Miller
    510 Posts

    January

    So this is where things get interesting. I was on a high from pulling off the Pickets traverse and I just moved to the big city AKA Seattle. It was Summer time and I had just started picking up jogging. With little to do but keep myself in shape I was doing 20 mile runs daily for about three weeks before I rolled my ankle. Without health insurance I waited for things to improve which was a painfully slow process. Within that time I decided to give up a 100 month snowboarding streak and once the beginning of winter came around my ankle was still feeling pretty weak so I decided to take my time and get my WFR (Wilderness First Response) certs while friend boasted about amazing conditions up on the mountains. It wasn’t until after Christmas that I finally felt my ankle was strong enough to head into the backcountry.


    Photo by Ben Starkey

    One of the reason I moved to Seattle was so I had the option/opportunity to get out of the Crystal Valley which I love but thought it would be exciting to check out other places like

    Snoqulamie Pass with good friend and touring Partner Ben Starkey

    Photo by Ben Starkey

    and the Stevens Corridor with Ben, Saign and Scott Mcallister

    Photo by Ben Starkey

    It was rad getting my feet wet in these areas

    Photo by Ben Starkey

    and I still wasn’t too far from the local stashes up around Crystal with my friend John Cocci

    Photo by John Cocci

    My ankle felt good, the snow was good and all was well.

    Photo by John Cocci

    A few days before New Years Boot, John Hannah and I made our way out onto my favorite mountain…..RAINIER!!!

    Photo by John Cocci

    and broke trail all the way up to the Interglacier which we rode down at Sunset.

    Photo by John Cocci

    For New Years Ben and I decided instead of drinking and partying we would celebrate in the company of the North Cascades via Mt. Shuksan

    Photo by Ben Starkey

    A few days later I was fortunate to hitch a ride up to the Cannuck Splitfest w/ Jerrett Taylor and experience my first ride via Eagle Pass heli for a one up touring package with Jerrett and Stephen Connick which was an amazing experience and some of the worst bushwhacking I would experience all season.

    Jerrett was kind enough to give me a ride back to Vancouver where I took a train back home and had a great conversation with the border control guard that went something like this.

    Him: Occupation
    Me: Professional Snowboarder
    Him: And you are on a train?
    Me:Yep
    Him: Clearly you need a new job

    On my way back home I chatted with Jason Hummel via Gmail and he mentioned going up to Lake Garibaldi near Whistler and asked if I was interested. I got home, packed my gear and the next day I was back in Canada with Jason, Hannah, Adam Roberts and Holly Walker. We skinned 16 kms including 3 kms across Lake Garibaldi to get into a zone called the Sphinx Bay and made it our base for the next five days

    Photo by Jason Hummel

    Our accommodations were quaint and cozy

    Photo by Jason Hummel

    Conditions turned out to be pretty wind scoured so we just goofed around making the best of the situation.

    Photo by Jason Hummel

    And tried to make the occasional wind drift look like the most amazing conditions ever.
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    Photo by Jason Hummel

    #675887
    firstlight
    721 Posts

    More :bananas: More :drool: More :headbang: More :rock:

    Adam West

    www.firstlightsurfboards.com.au
    www.firstlightsnowboards.com.au
    www.splitfest.com.au
    www.snowsafety.com.au
    www.mrbc.com.au
    www.backcountryglobal.com
    www.alpinefirstaid.com.au

    #675885
    Kyle Miller
    510 Posts

    Be patient I have to get the green light to use certain photos for the months of Feb and March.

    Then I will be putting them up. Your excited for August/Sept I see.

    #675888
    Kyle Miller
    510 Posts

    February

    When February rolled around Scott Mcallister invited us to check out a zone he had been scoping. Forrest Thorniley was in town so we made our way up the Index Galena Road for a multiday adventure.

    The next morning we had a blast checking out the Monte Cristos with a group of 5 including Forrest, Scott, Jason, Ben and me. There were really no set plans so we decided to run around and check out the area.

    Spotting a col we made a group decision to boot pack up and check it out.

    It was big, steep and exposed. Definitely not a line for 5 people. Scott stepped up and went for it followed by Forrest. We decided to go around another col and found another shot down.

    In the end we circumnavigated Columbia Peak and had a blast showing Forrest some very unique and excited terrain. Thanks for the invite on this gem Scott.

    My next big adventure was later in Febuary when Bucky invited me to the Wasatch Splitboard Festival. Days after getting out of the Monte Cristos I was on a plane heading for SLC. Once arriving people were talking about how conditions were anything but good but it was the last day of forecasted sunshine for a while so we made our way up and down the South face of Superior.

    Throughout the week conditions steadly improved riding lines off Kessler, Twin Peaks, Raymond and Goblers Knob. I just followed as I firmly believe “Always Trust the Locals”

    Not 24 hours after landing back home in Seattle I was persuaded by my friend Elliot to head up to Canada and check out the amazing hut culture and meet some awesome people as well.

    While skinning around the first day we noticed a little zone that peaked our interest so we after a sunset descent we went back to the hut and set are alarms for an alpine start.

    The next day Louie Dawson and I put in a nice skin track and ran laps on it before heading back to the hut and proceeded to drink the finest of Canadian Fireball Whiskey. I love Canada!!!

    When we got home a very special thing happened. We had a solid rain event that ran up to 9000 feet in the on the volcanos followed by a foot of fresh snow right side up and……………….3 days of high pressure so Ben Starkey, Jason Hummel and I went on a trip that I had dreamt up many years before. A solid 3 days of mellow scenic skins followed by 4,000 vert fall line runs on the open glaciers on the north side of Rainier. We named it the Osceola Traverse.

    The rad thing about the North side of Rainier is that it is only open to visitors 3 months out of the year. Over the years I’ve always come out to here in spring and summer. There’s something quite humbling seeing these areas in winter.

    With no wind, stable snow, and boot deep pow we had a blast breaking in skin tracks.

    Then ripping our skins and riding down a few miles of epic NE facing glaciers.


    Riding onto the Carbon Glacier

    The next day it was the same story break in rad skin tracks.

    Then descend epic powder conditions.

    By then it was nearing the tail end of winter and the days were getting longer so we rode tell dusk before settling up at Sunrise a popular summer visitor center that’s once again only open 3 months a year.

    The genious thing about this trip was the exit. We knew that there was a chute that ran 3,000 vert directly down to White River Ranger station.

    At the bottom our friend Boot was waiting to give us a 16 mile hitch out to the Crystal Mountain snowpark.

    Hard to say what trip was my favorite last year but this one was a top contender.

    #675889
    Kyle Miller
    510 Posts

    March

    Then it was off to the Mt. Baker Splitfest.

    All I can say is I love the North Cascades.

    There we a lot of people there but when everyone went right we went left and were able to find untracked snow.


    Thanks to Ben and Seth Holton for an amazing day.

    The next morning Ben and I got up early and made our way up Shuksan riding down the NW Couloir and making it back to his car by noon.

    We met up with Jason Hummel who was on his way to Canada for a G3 shoot and I hitched my way up to the Duffy Lakes area with go touring with my friend Holly Walker.

    The first day it town we went up to Cayuse and rode the Million Dollar couloir w/Hummel

    Before he said goodby and we went up to the Jofre hut the next day. It was a full moon that night so Holly and I skinned up the Aniversery Glacier as the Coastal Mountains glowed. The 3,000 feet of moon lit pow turns were unreal and to make matters crazy as we were skinning to the hut we saw a meteor burn up in the atmosphere. I have never seen anything like it.

    Then the next day we rode Jofre and Slalok and we were back to Whistler.

    With Holly working ski patrol and me having nothing to do I decided to do the Spearhead Traverse from Blackcomb Whistler. I ran into WhistlerMavrick and skinned w/ him for the first third then finished it by myself at the summit of Whistler mountain in 7:30 minutes. My best run of the day was a top to bottom corduroy run.

    At this point I had a dilemma. Hummel was passing through Whistler on his way back to the states and he was kind enough to swoop me up. Another high pressure system had hit Washington and when I arrived home most my touring partners were off on missions so I did a solo mission up north skinning into Glacier Peak.

    I quickly figured out what I thought was the only reason that they shut down the Kennedy Hotsprings trail. It was littered in Old growth downfall. Being stubborn I skinned up under and over numerous trees at even using the roll technique once or twice.

    It wasn’t long before I ditched the
    trail and made my way up a creek. With a few good handholds and some veggie belays I made it work.

    Calling it a night on the north side of Glacier peak watching the sunset and Kennedy and Shimitar glaciers.

    The next morning I woke up and started skinning up the Kennedy Glacier. My thoughts were to skin up to the summit and make a lap but that’s when I saw the Ermie Glacier from the North Col.

    It looked to good to pass by so I ripped my skins and rode 2000 feet of boot deep pow before skinning back on my down track back up to the col.

    I followed the north ridge up to the summit proper in the early afternoon and took in the views for a while. Later I found out Scott Mcalister was crushing it up on Bonanza that day and here I was staring at it for hours on end.

    From the summit I descended the Schimitar Glacier 3,500 feet down to within a hundred foot bootpack of camp.

    From my vantage point I could see clouds heading up the valley so decided to head back up to the Ermie Glacier hoping to get cover from the storm on the northwest side by hiding on the northeast side.

    That night I made a mistake and dug a snow pit to sleep in not thinking that the snow was loose particle snow. When the winds picked up I got buried in my bag while I was sleeping. It sucked but I learned from the ordeal. The only thing I lost was my GPS.

    Without a GPS I decided the safest move was instead of bushwhacking in unfamiliar terrain head to the south side which I was familiar with. I rode down the east face of Glacier Peak down the Chocolate Glacier and skinning up to Dissapointment Col. I had been at the col numerous times before and from here I could make my decision of which way to exit.

    As I got there the clouds rose to the base of my camp. I was sitting on the shores of a sea of clouds and rested pondering my options. My hope was to descend the west face but if it didn’t soften up I would have to go south down the White Chuck glacier over Red Pass and out the North Fork of the Sauk hoping after 9 miles of road skinning someone would pick me up and bring me to my car.

    Sadly by noon the next day the west face didn’t soften so I was off towards Red Pass.

    While amazing the south side felt more like nordic splitting

    It was a trip looking back up at Glacier peak knowing I was on the south col just a few hours earlier.

    At Red Pass I decended down towards the North Fork trail but by the time I hit the creek I was a bit upstream from the trial. I decided to skin up 100 feet and ride all the time heading downward. Finally hitting the trail by my 3rd transition.

    In the end I covered more than 70 miles. I called it the Abandoned Traverse because every trail leading to Glacier Peak is Abandoned.

    #675890
    wjb
    163 Posts

    Amazing pics and write up Kyle! Thanks for sharing.

    #675891
    saign
    330 Posts

    Awesome Kyle! You’ve been killing it. I can’t wait to see the stuff from NZ.

    I wish I could have been along for more of your adventures, hopefully sometime in the future.

    #675892
    C balke
    74 Posts

    Soo Good! I love hearing about your travels! I’m sure it’s not always a glamorous lifestyle but keep it up, such an inspiration to all of us.

    #675893
    nickstayner
    700 Posts

    This thread is the best.

    #675894
    HikeforTurns
    1113 Posts

    Thats a hell of a season Kyle! The stories are inspiring. The Glacier traverse must have been an experience. I haven’t done anything 1/3 that length! I look forward to riding with you guys again.

    #675895
    BGnight
    1382 Posts

    Sweet! Nice Kyle

    Question for you PNW’ers: Why are no splitters going after the N Face of Mt Fury??? That is the sickest, proudest, most aesthetic line I’ve laid my eyes on in the PNW (well, photos at least)
    Get on that shit you pussies!!! 😉

    #675896
    aliasptr
    282 Posts

    You truly are an inspiration.

    Beautiful photos, amazing experiences. Thank you for sharing!

    #675897
    Kyle Miller
    510 Posts

    @bgnight wrote:

    Sweet! Nice Kyle

    Question for you PNW’ers: Why are no splitters going after the N Face of Mt Fury??? That is the sickest, proudest, most aesthetic line I’ve laid my eyes on in the PNW (well, photos at least)
    Get on that shit you pussies!!! 😉

    3 day approach through insanely complicated terrain and that is just to get to the base of it. To say it is sketch is an understatement.

    Thanks for the kind words everyone. I truly feel fortunate to follow my passion

    and with that………..

    April

    In the beginning of April we had another break in weather so I met up with Scott and we hatched up a plan. Back to North Fork Bridge Creek and more importantly Goode. With the opening of Highway 20 we went up and over the southern shoulder of Black Peak.

    After a few hours of bushwhacking there he was the north face of Goode.

    We went to bed in the valley and got up early with plans to just check out conditions.

    The crazy thing about Goode is that it is about 5,500 feet of fall line.

    With crazy Cascadian fluting.

    We made it to the base of the NE col couloir. A few years prior we had climbed it and were unhappy with conditions, dropping the backside and skinning around 30 miles so we had a history. We decided we would check conditions and turn back when we became uncomfortable.

    It turned out it was soft easily climbable conditions and what had taken me 8 hours a few years back took us 2 hours this time. It felt awesome finally riding this line.

    The next day we set our sights on the source of the North Fork, Mt. Fremont.

    It was cool being back up on Logans Douglas glacier but this time from a different drainage.

    At the top we ripped the skins and rode another 5,000 vert run nearly back to camp.

    I epiced pretty hard on this trip first by getting myself caught in a wetslide and second by burning my boot liners that night in the fire. Needless to say my up and over 4,000 vert ascent/descent back to the car wasn’t the funnest of times.

    That night I made my way home dried out my gear and was back on the trail with Scott Rinckenberger and Ben Starkey this time off on a 3 day trip up the Napeequa River to Ten Peak.

    We skinned until sunset arriving at a high col right as the full moon came out. Yet again another surreal experience.

    The next day we rode the lower slopes of Mt. Clark to the Napeequa and started heading up valley.

    We skinned for a few hours making our way to the Butterfly Glacier which is the source of the river setting up camp at Butterfly col.

    With camp set up we were within striking distance of the NE slopes of Ten peak so we made a late afternoon skin up the mellow ridge.

    I love these two perspectives.

    Ben’s

    and Scott’s

    From the top of Ten we could see that clouds were moving in. What was sunshine today was going to be rain the next day.

    Then it was back to camp

    The next morning we packed our stuff up in the rain and were off.

    It’s not an official Cascadian trip report until you put in a creek crossing.

    Witht he weather looking good I felt guilty at the thought of sitting on a couch so I was off to Rainier with my friend Boot.

    It was planned that we would skin up to Whitman Crest together and he dropped south back towards the car while I dropped north towards a solo 5 day traverse of Rainier.

    Making camp up on the Emmons Glacier.

    The next day was calm and quiet so I packed up my gear and made it our of the shadows and up the Emmons

    Climbing to the top of the Interglacier.

    From there I dropped 4,000 feet to the first creek hole that usually opens for water. Then I took a break and climbed up the 3rd Burrough and rested of the summit waiting for corn thirty.

    Around 1 P.M. I made my decent down the West face of the 3rd Burrough on to the Winthrop Glacier and making my way over to Mystic Lake.

    The next day I skinned into one of my favorite zones in the area, Moraine Park. For the next three days I camped w/ the Willis Wall in full display and rode awesome lines.

    It was rad but the one thing that stood out was the backwards sunset. It was surreal watching the alpenglow head up the mountain.

    The next morning I woke up to find that my skin had blown away in a wind storm so I pulled out some Voile straps and made my descent onto the Carbon Glacier.

    Turns out Voile straps are good for anything. 😉

    In all honesty I gave up on naming this one.

    I wasn’t home for long before I was back in the Park but this time via hanging out in Fryingpan Creek.

    We decided to go directly up a creek and work on our veggie belay skills.

    We’ve pretty much got this zone dialed so from Frying Pan we rode the NE Banshee Couloir, The Cowlitz Chimney, The Tamanos Chute and Tamanos swath pretty much back to the road.

    I was content with a rad season!!!

    #675898
    Kyle Miller
    510 Posts

    May

    I got an email in May asking what I was up to for the month of June and if I was wanting/willing to put in a huge traverse of the North Cascades. At first I wanted nothing to do with it but after a day of thinking about it decided that it would be better than sitting at home. I was game to Attempt the American Alps Traverse. Long, long, long story short it was the brainchild of PNW pioneer and ski historian Lowell Skoog to do a continous traverse from Highway 20 to Glacier Peak. Logistacally it was pretty intense, following the North Cascade crest over 100 miles a 4 seperate traverses ( Isolation,Ptarmagin, Extended and the Suattle high Route) The thought of it was overwhelming so I just broke it down into surviving mini missions. So for the rest of May I just relaxed and prepared for June.

    June

    Isolation Traverse

    June came fast and although May had been a wet month in the Cascades the 7 day forecast was calling for clear days, we had hoped for the best and we got it. I was nervous packing my bag for the first leg but I was excited to get into a zone I had never seen from the alpine. So we packed our bags and started off at the Pyramid Lake trail head @ 2,000 feet on the North Cascade highway. It took about 4,000 feet and multiple hours before we hit snow and were able to start skinning but from then on we hoped we would be skinning for the next few days.

    It wasn’t until the second day that the clouds broke and we were able to see what we were up against, but it was awesome.

    For the most part it was snow but occasionally we would get onto these massive open platforms made all the more amazing because undernealth them was almost vertical rock faces dropping into the Mcallister valley.

    It was by the third day that the weather got really warm and we came upon an area called the Devils Backbone. Now we were pretty deep into the Cascades and the valleys that surrounded us were the stuff of bushwhacking legend.

    We expected corn but what we got was avi prone slush. Ski cuts would cause wet slides that ran down thousands of vertical feet. We had hoped to run accross the 3 mile ridge had to slow things down. Cut the slope, watch it slide than repeat. We hoped for an hour but it took us about 7.

    We had planned goals of camping spots but that fell apart with a quickness. We had made it half the distance of what we were hoping but our campsite for the night would turn out to be our favorite of the trip. That night we watched the sunset over the North Cascades and went to sleep hoping that travel would go smoother from here on out.

    We had hoped for a total of 5 days doing the Isolation but it had actually taken us 4. Once arriving at the Dorado Needles I was back in a familiar place. Knowing we were just a few hours from the Eldorado trailhead and where are food resupply was waiting we just put our heads down, skinned and made our way almost 6,000 feet to the valley below.

    Ptarmigan Traverse

    I had mixed feeling about the next section of mountains. I was excited because I had never been into the region before but not so excited because the terrain was many miles of sidehilling. I was feeling good so far so we packed our bags to full capacity and started off up the mountains. We decided instead of rushing the section we would take our time and do it in multiple days so we climbed up the Cascade River valley and camped on Cache Col just above Cascades Pass.

    That night clouds came in and it started raining. The next morning we made the decision to call it a weather day and took to repairing gear and keeping log of how much food we had and looking at the topo maps for the millionth time.

    That night we came up with plans and since we had lost a day because of weather we would have to make it up. We watched the sun set over Sahale and Buckner and set the alarm for 5 a.m.

    We started really early in the morning and what we hoped would be corn hadn’t softened up yet. While Jason had it pretty easy doing a mellow ski traverse I was on my heelside edge. At some points when exposure was a real concern I would put on my crampons and walk across the section.

    The next 12 hours was monotonous. Side hill, climb up a few hundred feet and ride a quarter of a mile. This went on and on forever and with visibility pretty low it was by far the most painful day of the traverse.

    We got to camp which was a melted out spot near White Rocks lake just as the sun set and threw the tent up. The day was long and we were exhausted to we decided to set our alarm for around 8:00 and laze around for a bit before moving on.

    Extended Ptarmigan Traverse

    We had completed the Ptarmigan traverse and were now getting into the extended Ptarmigan which there was no official route for. What we knew was that we had to make it up and over Gunsight col so we started across valley and started coming up with a plan.

    Extended Ptarmigan

    Only a few groups had done this trip before and they had all started it at Dome peak which meant we would be sidehilling for a few hours, which I was over with. Jason and I made the decision that instead of traversing we would drop low and skin up the Chikaman.

    The route up onto the glacier went smooth and we were stoked. From here on everything was up in the air and this was the first moment that I actually felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. The glacier was stunning with crevasses littering it and was an easy ramp until we arrived at the crux which was an ice cliff.

    There was no way that the actually glacier would go but we had spotted a ramp running up the side to the upper ice plateau. We didn’t know what to expect but at that moment we couldn’t ask for things to go more smoothly.

    That night we camped up at Gunsight col and took in the views. In every direction was a stunning vista of mountains that never see any human contact. In the distance we could see Glacier peak our final destination. Though it looked like we could touch it we were still at least a week away.

    Coming up with a route we looked upon an area called Bannock Mountain. We had hoped there was a smooth ramped that we could ride onto the mellower slopes below but from topos in looked like 95% of it cliffed out. I stressed about this section for a long time and from our vantage point the potential ramp was blocked from view. We decided to go for it and hope for the best.

    Once we got there we found a ramp down to Bannock Lakes. It was almost melted out but luckily it was still in. In my case a lot of stress went away the moment we started making turns down the slope.

    With the crux of the trip over with we set up camp near one of the lakes and found a warm rock to rest on.

    The theme of the Extended Ptarmagan was that everything was unknown so the next day we decided to drop down to the PCT which was dirt then go climb up and over Bullstooth mountain before descending into the Agnes valley, up and over Cloudy Pass and set up camp at Lyman Lake. We skinned from 9A.M. until past sunset but it was a huge relief being at the familiar shores of Lyman.

    The next day we woke up and dried out our gear before heading down to Holden Village where our food was stashed.

    We made our way to snowline and stashed all our snow related gear before hitting the trail down valley. Down towards Holden it felt like Summer.

    Once in town they fed us, offered showers and gave us our packages of food that had been mailed a few days prio. I stuffed my face full of food enjoying the all you can eat desert trays.

    Suiattle High Route

    Our time in Holden was limited we were 2/3rds done with the traverse and according to the weather forecast a huge front was going to hit the Cascades in 4 days. After one night in town we had all of our stuff packed up and we were back up at Lyman Lakes camping in the rain and getting ready for an early start.

    When we woke up there were clouds in the sky but it seemed as thought the weather was improving so we packed our gear and started heading for the summit of Chiwawa Mountain.

    After a hour or two the clouds rolled in and we were climbing with visibility only limited to a few feet in front of us. We were fortunate that the terrain wasn’t that complex and we had a GPS that we kept checking. Once on the summit we dropped down the west slopes riding by braille.

    Our next climb of the day was to do another up and over but this time via Fortress Mountain. We hadn’t heard of anyone climbing/riding the East ridge but we decided to check it out. We quickly found out why we hadn’t heard of many people doing it before.

    It was challenging but we kept pushing up the exposed ridge before finally getting on mellower slopes. It was then that we found ourselves breaking out of the clouds.

    From the summit of Fortress the only mountain that was above the clouds was Glacier Peak which we had hoped was only two days away. This was the first time in the trip that I actually thought there was a chance that we were actually going to pull it off.

    We ripped our skins and rode down the west face of Fortress riding down to a flat dry spot and put up camp. The next day we would be back in the Napeequa which I had been in a few months prior.

    We woke up and started following a dry trail up to Buck Creek Pass and over to High Pass but the slopes quickly got covered in snow. We were hoping that the ridge was climbable but we were forced to sidehill on steep slopes until arriving at High Pass. From there we would be heading down to the Napeequa River at the base of the Dakobed Range.

    We found an animal trail down valley and were on the shores within a few hours. It was amazing to see how much snowpack had melted out but luckily it was pretty straight foreword travel.

    We decided to put camp up at Ten Peak which we both knew was striking distance from Glacier Peak as we had gone this way twice before. From our camp we could see our final summit so we went to bed excited that we had almost pulled off our goal.

    My whole body ached when I woke up. A part of me wanted to turn around but there was no place to turn around too so I put down my head and just started moving.

    It felt awesome skinning by areas that we had camped at on previous trips. I found it rather obvious why this is one of my favorite places in the Cascades.

    We could see a nasty front pushing in from the east as we climbed, hearing the crashes of thunder in the distance. It was a race with the weather and we had no choice but to push on.

    Our final thousand feet on Glacier Peak were surreal. The front was close and we could hear the buzzing of electricity on our gear. Once cresting the top we knew we had little time to celebrate so we hooted and hollered took a photo and were off.

    As we descended the from slammed into the mountain and immediately it started pouring rain. A part of me wanted to ditch my board but I put it on my pack and we started bushwhacking down the heavily vegetated slopes finally running into the old PCT trail that was damaged by a flood almost a decade ago.

    That night we camped at the devastation that once was the Kennedy Hot Springs which is now covered in 5 feet of dirt. We were stoked that all the mountain climbing was done and all that was left was some washout trail. I had been on it when doing the solo trip of Glacier Peak and I knew it had a lot of downfall but it was much worse than I expected.

    The trail was in the river and the washouts were unstable and just plain dangerous. Falls simply were not allowed.

    In the end those 3 miles took us almost 5. When we got to the trailhead we found a note on the sign and walked the final 7 miles out to the road. We were proud and stoked but wanted to get out of the mountains ASAP. Hummel was able to hitch a few rides up to the North Cascades to grab his car and picked me up at around 9 p.m. and within minutes the storm hit the Cascades hard.

    It was an honor to pull of the Traverse and to be the first group to do so. We had planned on it being around a month but only turned out to be 16 days, 120 miles and 60 thousand vert,

    For the next month in a half my board was put in the closet and tickets were booked to spend 4 months in NZ and Australia. Stoke level was on high.

    #675899
    waltzingmatilda
    74 Posts

    Absolutely amazing journeys Kyle! thanks for posting all the inspiring words and photos.

    #675900
    Jefe009
    675 Posts

    Great, another day at work wasted reading Kyle’s awesome TRs… 😆

    Thanks for the never ending stoke!

    www.splitlife.net

    #675901
    buell
    534 Posts

    Hell yeah Kyle!

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