Forums Trip Reports snowboard season part 2–spring!
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  • #576751
    246 Posts

    a new thread for a new season!

    and this season starts at the same place as the last–the venerable mt baker! this time, our goal was quite literally a bit higher.

    sadly, i left my newly-repaired camera in the van, but fortunately my companions do not mind me stealing their pictures and posting them on the internet.

    we set up camp where the road became impassible to my 2wd van, about 4 miles from the trailhead. it was nearing 5am when we started hiking up the road. by lunchtime, the summit was looking a little bit closer.

    the weather was beautiful, the company good, and after a short 12 hours of hiking, skinning, and climbing, i got my first look at the baker summit!

    our total elevation gain was 8,900 feet from the van… maybe not that big by WA standards but my biggest continuous climb by a long shot! did i mention the views were awesome??

    long climbs mean long runs!

    thanks scott and leyland for the pictures.

    winter was great, but this day got me pretty stoked on spring…. i can’t wait to see what else the volcanos have in store for me!

    291 Posts

    Excellent effort. Looks like you hit it at a great time. How long did it take to get back to the van?

    4149 Posts

    Congrats bs!

    That’s a big day. Conditions look primo! :drool:

    700 Posts

    That stuff is pretty alluring!

    246 Posts

    the forecast was uncertain last weekend, so we opted for a less comitting objective.

    the approach was long and brutal, but at last we set up our camp deep in the north cascades.

    early the next morning, we set out on the challenging and technical ascent.

    sadly, the boardwalk did not reach the summit and we were forced to don skins.

    for a moment, we gained sight of our objective, before the cloud swallowed it again.

    getting above the clouds

    a touch of the alpine

    a most satisfying lunch on the summit.

    this way to the forest…

    watch out

    i’m so vain i included six shots of me hitting the same feature.

    does this count as gnar?

    already getting ideas for next season!

    864 Posts


    Looks like you got more vis then we firgured you did. From our vantage point, there weren’t too many mountains peaking out up north.

    Way to haul a table for lunch all the way up there!

    246 Posts

    highway 20 opens but once a year… and who am i to resist the call?

    thanks to a stop at the climbing gym and a rather irie grocery shopping trip that took way too long, i made it up to the pass by about midnight. still found a great camp spot, though!

    exploring a completely new area solo can be pretty fun. i was so impressed by the mountains coming into view as i crested the first ridge that i had to stop for this shot before climbing the last 5 feet.

    ever the numerologist, i started my morning a little too early at 4:20 and spent an hour waiting for my first run to corn up. fortunately the conditions could not have been more pleasant.

    i had been thinking of going for this line (stiletto couloir?) but the big cornice sitting in the sun changed my mind.

    while trying to decide where to go for my 2nd run, i spotted a lone figure climbing copper pass, who turned out to be my friend spencer out backpacking for the weekend. i was pretty humbled when he reached in his pack and offered me a cold beer.

    we passed by some sweet lines baking in the sun as we searched for a way out of the north fork twisp valley.

    then back over another pass we soon regained sight of the road.

    i couldn’t resist stopping at spencer’s camp for another brew.

    i also couldn’t resist getting up at my favorite time the next day.

    the line i’d seen from across the valley looked a little more chunky when i got close. ever the “optimist”, i climbed it anyway.

    but 3/4 of the way up, when i realized there was not one section of smooth snow in the entire line, i “bailed” into the next couloir over.

    i climbed most of the looker’s right line, then made the sketchy traverse over into the left one, which rode much better.

    have i mentioned that i love the cascades??!

    Kyle Miller
    510 Posts

    Nice work my friend on slaying some classics.

    To have sunshine like this in May is a very rare occurrence.

    709 Posts

    BS… Way to get after it your 1st year living in WA. Suprised that busted board beer brew master Ale didn’t join ya.

    246 Posts

    thanks, guys!

    scott was busy on rainier that weekend… possibly a better use of the excellent weather window. but now we are back to wind and rain so he’s been busy testing out his partially completed wood fired pizza oven. i gave it a try myself on the way over to leavenworth last weekend and must say i approve!

    709 Posts

    Ah does that bring back some sweet memories…..Scott busted out some steaks, chicken wings, and pizza in one sitting in that oven. Took a bit to work the kindling w/ the maul….while Tex smoked cheeb like it was straight from the vine. Top that with Scott’s 420 ale, and it’s a slice of heaven :thumpsup:

    keep up the Cascade stoke…1 trip out, and I’m hooked that’s for sure.

    246 Posts

    i was too frustrated when i posted those last pics to show the outcome of that trip. we were on our way over to leavenworth for an attempt on mt stuart’s sherpa glacier…

    but i was trying to “ski” part of the approach trail without skins on the way in that night, slipped and cut my knuckle kind of badly. so we camped there, and hiked out the next day, never even making it to the base of the glacier.

    this was the next afternoon… if the cut had been somewhere else it would have been no big deal, but i couldn’t really use that hand without it popping open and starting to bleed everwhere. maybe i should have gotten stitches.

    fast forward another week. i managed to not use that hand for a few days and it healed up while i finished my prototype dynafit setup.

    not wanting to slow anyone else down as i tinkered with my new setup, i headed out alone for the newly opened white river entrance to rainier.

    yep, that’s a bear. perhaps it was not so wise for my first day in hard boots to start with a 3 mile hike. i only made it 2000 feet up the glacier before i had to turn back due to terrible foot pain. to make the day even more memorable, as i limped down the trail wishing i’d brought some shoes, i encountered this friendly guy. i say friendly because he meandered off slowly when i started blowing my wistle instead of mauling and eating me.

    terrible picture, i know, but i was rather scared for my life and didn’t feel like adjusting the ISO to get a shorter exposure.

    i had a fun night of camping and the next day took my aching feet to a more accessible location across from the crystal mt ski resort.

    not exactly a “big line” but a fun second hardboot outing on which i met a few friendly folks (and got rained on).

    i got back to my van, thinking it was time to head home and relax, only to find a text from kyle wanting to ride the inter glacier. i decided i’d better go home anyway and get my soft boots!

    kyle showed me a cool route up the emmons glacier.

    the visibility became variable as we climbed.

    but things were pretty clear when we reached steamboat prow.

    the cloud looms closer as we begin the descent of the inter glacier…

    until we found ourselves in a surreal world of grey, with no visible distinction between the glacier, the air, and the sky.

    we waited awhile, hoping for a break in the cloud. when it didn’t come, we transitioned and carefully traversed to our uptrack on the emmons. for the first time in my life, i was really, really glad to have a gps reciever. we found our skintrack and followed it down for a few thousand feet until we finally exited the cloud.

    that’s when it started to rain. our tribulations were not over!

    a master of many things, bushwacking among them.

    and at last! back home with one day of the long weekend left to throw some ribs and sausage in the smoker!

    for a weekend beset by rain, low viz, horrible foot pain, and close bear encounters, it sure was fun!

    700 Posts

    This thread is terrific man. Keep it up!

    27 Posts

    Excellent to hear the White River is open!

    Way to get after it and thanks for the entertaining thread.

    53 Posts

    Nice. You got any plans for this sunday. Weather may ease up around sat night early sunday.

    864 Posts

    Cool Ben, way to branch out this spring..

    Too bad on the stuart trip. Looks like it was in good condition! I can’t imagine going either direction on that roller coaster of a summer trail without skins.

    Yeah, good times with the oven. Works better with dry wood.

    246 Posts

    last week scott emailed me, asking if i was interested in riding a line out by the columbia glacier. when i asked how early we ought to leave, i thought he was kidding when he said midnight. ale capone never jokes about departure times though.

    courtesy of john scurlock, here is a photo of the line we were searching for.

    a good tour starts with a good bbq, and i knew that to prepare for this mission, i better do some eating!

    by 2am we had finished the whiskey and loaded our packs. time to hit the trail.


    4:20am, time for a break!

    5:15am, a new record for earliest first turns of the day!

    after a bit of traversing through a steep obstacle course of tree wells, we made it to blanca lake. bits and pieces of the surrounding peaks sporadically appeared through small windows in the clouds as we crossed the lake.

    scott was having too much fun climbing to stop and put on crampons. someday i’ll get my hard boots dialed in and maybe i can be a badass, too.

    when the going got a little easier, i took a turn breaking trail.

    a mere 8 hours after our departure, we dropped into our first line.

    it was a bit foggy, but the snow was nicely edgable and though the deep runnels presented a bit of a hazard, they made for easy sluff management.

    after a break on the pride glacier, we started climbing again, hoping to exit through the trail-less goblin valley to the south.

    looking back at our line…

    we climbed a little more to get some bonus turns in steeper snow, and after a winter of denial, scott finally admits to enjoying corn snow.

    visibilty was variable

    exiting the goblin couloir

    the goblin creek exit started out deceptively easy. but we soon found ourselves traversing the sides of a steep chasm, kicking footsteps into wet ferns and clinging desperately to alder branches above cliffs that dropped into the raging water below. we would struggle and fight to advance a few feet, only to find our path blocked again and again by deep washed out gullys full of loose rocks. some we climbed around, struggling uphill on one side and carefully “belaying” ourselves down the other with branches. others we climbed down into and scrambled across, each step sending a torrent of loose rocks cascading into the water below. scott made steady progress while i spent a lot of time clinging desperately to my whippet buried in the soil and swearing.

    the 2 miles of “hiking” took us 4 hours to complete, but they became a distant memory the moment my boots touched the gravel road. damn those beers tasted good!

    on the way home, i celebrated my new freedom…. to buy whiskey at safeway!!!!!

    thanks, scott, for the great tour idea (and photos!) and for putting up with my grumbling during the last hour. next time you tell me to stay on the right side of the river, i’m going to listen!

    christoph benells
    717 Posts

    dont give up on the hard boots yet…it always hurts when you first stick it in…remember high school? 🙂

    too bad there is that extra 27% tax on booze up there now though.

    246 Posts

    haha good metaphor. i’m not giving up; i just need to get out of work early one of these days and go see a bootfitter.

    and though i enjoyed the novelty of buying my booze at the grocery store, i will stick to my original plan of stocking up every time i visit CA.

    i don’t believe in paying taxes when it can be avoided.

    620 Posts

    Good work Ben!!! Shasta over Fathers day weekend…Just sayin….

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