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
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.
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.
Post subject: Re: A Year in Review, My 2013 season
Posted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 4:18 pm
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:40 pm Posts: 531
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. [url=http://s565.photobucket.com/user/Kylemiller411/media/2013%20Trip%20Report/015_zpsd3a707b4.jpg.html][/url Photo by Jason Hummel
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.
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.
Post subject: Re: A Year in Review, My 2013 season
Posted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:08 am
Joined: Fri May 13, 2005 8:05 am Posts: 1499 Location: 395
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!!!