Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:27 am Posts: 65 Location: Bham
Again, note that this trip was done in April, so if you don't want to think about powder until next season, turn back now. All photos by Dylan Hallett, but they aren't the edited final copies.
Ptarmigan Ridge is on the western side of Mt Baker, and is accessed from the Mount Baker Ski Area (parking lot). It's about 3 miles to the start of the ridge, then about another 2 miles along the ridge until you reach the Sholes(?) Glacier at the foot of Mt Baker. Our plans were to head out Friday early afternoon, make it to the bowl under Ptarmigan, and have almost two days of shredding before we headed out Sunday night.
Of course, we didn't leave the ski area parking lot until almost 4 (we had been hoping to get a bump from the lift, but we were too late), and pretty much as soon as we got to the base of Table Mountain, a dense fog rolled in and it started snowing. Considering the fact that it was later afternoon, and the route was about to cross the south face of Table Mountain, we just decided to set up camp and finish the approach in the morning.
Up until this point, we had 4 splitboarders and 1 token skier, but token skier had to bail that morning to go work at the ski area. This being our first time winter camping, and since we weren't on a strict schedule, we leisurely broke camp and skinned over to what had been our goal the night before, more than 18 hours later. The skies had been clear all day.
Our view looking up from camp
Amazingly, we were breaking trail all the way from Table. Nobody had been out this way since it had snowed almost a week earlier.
Some photos of the terrain in the bowl
We set camp and started breaking trail again but this time with much lighter (though still surprisingly heavy) packs.
My personal favorite, right as we reached the top.
Finally, after about 24 hours of (leisurely) approach, we were gonna get to ride some pow!
My buddy Charlie jumping off the cornice. Yes, that is a Dakine Helipro that he stuffed into his overnight pack so he wouldn't have to ride with it.
My buddy Jack ripping a turn with camp (not visible) down against the treeline below
Our lines from back at camp
The bottom few hundred feet back to camp was pretty sticky, but the whole upper face, which is a north aspect, had some great spring pow. We got back to camp, ate dinner, and prepared to go back up. It had been a full moon a few days before, so we were expecting it to be bright enough to ride. When we got back up the ridge though, we found a spectacular sight. The moon was rising over Point 7848, which is a smaller subpeak on Shuksan (and one that I have always dreamed of riding). The moon was wrapped in a light mist, and appeared to have an orangeish glow to it. Definitely one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen, a highlight of the season.
At this point, though, we had to make a decision. The moon wasn't providing much light, and we were going to have to wait another few hours for it to rise high enough to do so. Since it was past midnight, though, we were too tired to wait. We rode the same face as earlier, which again was just an awesome experience.
Some views from the backside of Table on the hike out
The point we skied from, the start of Ptarmigan Ridge, is on the very left side of this photo
All in all, we put in a shit ton of effort, and got pretty well rewarded for our first overnight splitboard mission.