Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2008 7:38 pm Posts: 321 Location: Eugene, Oregon and Eden, Utah
I thought I would put up some summer stoke on my corn season here in the NW. I cannot compare with Snow Savage and Sufferfest's awesome TRs, but here you go. Sorry for the download but my busiest work season coincides perfectly with corn season. That creates two months of a mad dash to get it all done and no time for a TR.
I have ridden lots of lines on the volcanoes but many of them have been repeats. This year, I only wanted to ride lines that I have not ridden or, if I was with Rebecca, lines that she had not ridden. It turned out to be a great year. Unless I was with Rebecca, I was solo, so it is spare on riding photos.
This season’s weather was quite interesting. In May, it looked like it would be a really short season. Then it started snowing above 6000 feet, sometimes quite a bit. Climbing plans were in constant flux and often decided at the last minute or canceled altogether.
On May 12, the year started with a warm up peak that I had not visited, Three Fingered Jack. It is a smaller peak between Jefferson and Washington.
Rebecca and I headed out to Three Fingered Jack on a sunny day in May. I am not a rock climber so I am happy to leave summiting of Jack to those who are. Rebecca and I ended up riding the SE bowl. The peak is small enough that it is possible to ride a couple of different bowls, but unfortunately I had a new pair of liners that were causing me tremendous foot pain and we only ended up doing one lap. The latter part of the return is pretty flat and it was brutal getting out of there with my screaming feet.
I might go back eventually to explore it more thoroughly, but it is down the list a bit.
Silly picture of me above the SE bowl on Jack
Two days later, with my old trusty pair of liners, I went to Mt St Helens. I had never been on Helens before because I did not want to mess with the reservation permit system and the limited number of permits issued per day. On this Monday, there were only 12 people on the mountain, mostly climbers, and picking up the permit, even after hours, was easy.
I left from the Marble Mountain sno-park first thing in the morning. I have climbed a lot of peaks and even in July, the snow usually sets up overnight in the open areas. This May morning was mush from the beginning. One hiker I passed lamented that it was like climbing a slurpee.
The mountain is not steep so I pressed on making sure I noted any small steeper areas that could slide on the way down. Fortunately, the last 1000 feet had set up a little better. It was great to finally get to Helens and look into the crater. It was smaller than I expected, but I think my expectations were colored by mental images of vast Crater Lake which is obviously unfair to Helens. Judging from the tracks, loads of people had been up there the day before (Mother’s Day) so I stayed far right in the photo above and hardly crossed any tracks. I got to ride all the way to the car, which is always nice.
The best part of the view was looking across the crater, toward Spirit Lake and Rainier.
One cool thing about climbing on the volcanoes is that they can blow up. This one is the prime example in our lifetimes but many of them are considered active and have erupted in the not too distant past (Lassen in 1914).
On May 19, Rebecca and I headed to the NE bowl of North Sister, which is one of the steeper, meaner peaks in Oregon. Rockfall is a significant hazard on many lines. I was hoping to ride the Early Morning Couloir while she rode a line on the north side of the bowl. The EMC was pretty beat with rockfall so we both ended up climbing and riding a line just to the north of the Villard Glacier. It was the steepest thing Rebecca has climbed and ridden before and she did great. She stopped at a small rock outcropping just before it got really steep and I continued up to the ridge. I dropped into the northern side of the Villard and made the short traverse back around to Rebecca’s Rock. We then continued down the main face.
North Sister has great views both north and south. To the south are Broken Top, Bachelor and South Sister. If you were to summit, which I am unlikely to ever do, you could also see Middle Sister, Diamond, Bailey......
This one looking north is from later in the season a few years ago on a trip with Kyle Miller. That is Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Jefferson, and Hood.
Looking down the line after riding down from the ridge
This photo is from lower down where she was more comfortable riding (no pictures allowed if she is nervous).
We rode the face on the far right side of this photo. The EMC is the chute that drops from just below the summit. Three guys were slowly heading up it when we were done at 1PM
On May 29 I headed to Shasta / Shastina for a couple of days of climbing and riding. Anyone who has driven past Shasta from the north knows the big, gorgeous snowfield on the north side of Shastina.
It is hard to get to and only gets a little traffic. There are a few ways to it, but all of them are slogs. Despite TRs detailing the horrors of the route from the Bolam TH, that is the one I chose. I would travel though the shrub, forest, and lava fields then climb the face directly. It was definitely a slog, but fortunately I mostly avoided the main pitfalls of washouts, dense Manzanita, and large lava fields.
Looking up the Whitney Glacier
BGnight was on the summit of Shasta on the same day and saw me sitting on the rim of Shastina. This is the line I rode on Shastina from the top of my line on the Bolam route on Shasta the next day.
It had snowed quite a few inches a few days previous to my trip and I was not sure what to expect on the slope. Turns out, I got 500 feet of wind blasted, bumpy, nearly bullet proof snow at the top then 1200 feet of powder, then mush at the bottom. Pure joy is the only description of getting great packed powder turns on a corn trip.
There was loads of evidence of bears. This track was very recent.
Overall, it was a beautiful, if long, hike and great riding.
The next day, I headed up the Hotlum / Bolam route on Shasta. I was really beat from the Shastina slog and was not sure how far I would make it but just kept putting one foot in front of the other. At one point, the only thing that kept me from turning around was the thought of explaining it to a few people coming up behind me. Amazingly, I ended up at the top of the rideable snow at 13,700 feet. I have ridden some really nasty stuff off the tops of these peaks, but the snow higher than my stopping point was just a mess. Not wanting to down climb it and not able to ride it, I stopped there and started my descent.
I rode the line that starts from almost directly under the summit and heads diagonally to the right passing through the rock bands. The snow was a mixture of dense wind buff, packed powder, a stretch of mush and then great corn on the lower slopes.
On June 14, Rebecca and I headed to McLoughlin to ride the NE face. She rode the south face last year and wanted to try the NE face which is quite a bit steeper. We parked a mile or so from Four Mile Lake and headed cross country to gain the east ridge. I expected her to be a bit nervous but she just killed it! It was perfect corn too!
A shot of the NE bowl from across Klamath Lake on Highway 97
The line from the east ridge
The next day I headed solo to the SW face of Jefferson.
SW face from Three Fingered Jack earlier in the year.
I slept at the Pamelia Lake TH and got an early start at 5 AM. The trail into Pamelia Lake is awesome old growth with the constant sound of Pamelia creek roaring downhill. Much of the time, I just head crosscountry straight at the peak I am climbing since most of our volcanoes are concave in profile, relatively flat at the bottom and steepest at the top. The lower slopes of Jefferson in the Pamelia Lake area are really steep so I followed the Pacific Crest Trail up pretty far before starting my direct ascent of the mountain. It was steep, dry forest climbing at first, giving way to fairly steep snow before climbing out of the lower SW bowl and onto the SW ridge.
Lower bowl. It reminds me a bit of Diamond Peak. The summit just happens to be 2500 feet above the top of it though.
Looking up the SW ridge from the top of the lower bowl. The pinnacle just to the right of the summit pinnacle was my high point. It is farther than it looks but that just means more riding.
I continued up the SW ridge, then wrapped around to the south face at the top of the Waldo Glacier and then up a pinnacle a couple of hundred feet below and to the south of the proper summit pinnacle.
Summit. A week later I would actually drop onto this face as my route down from the West Rib.
Looking down the line
The first couple hundred feet of turns off the top were pretty steep but had softened nicely in the sun. I then wrapped back around onto the SW face and continued my long descent back to the lower bowl. More turns in the lower bowl and then into trees that were too thick and steep to ride. By that point I was only a few hundred feet above the bottom of the snow and the PCT. After a five mile hike out through beautiful old growth I was back at the car at 2:30.
Rebecca and I had been planning a trip into Green Lakes to climb and ride S. Sister and Broken Top, but Jefferson was so much fun, I convinced her to go back with me the following week.
On June 20, I headed out again from the car at 5 AM at the Pamelia Lake TH. My plan was to drop my camping gear and meet Rebecca that afternoon at the PCT trail. In the mean time I would climb and ride the West Rib of Jefferson.
West face of Jefferson from Cone Peak taken a few years ago. The West Rib is the prominent one in the middle dropping from the summit. The SW Ridge is to the right of it.
West face of Jefferson from the PCT. Flattened by the camera angle.
It had snowed a bit the day before and with the east winds, there was quite a bit of backlit spendrift coming off the SW ridge. It was a good show for the 20th of June.
The snow was firm and the higher I got, the windier it got. There was a very strong east wind that was wrapping around the summit and hitting me hard with erratic gusts. It is not fun climbing steep firm snow with a board on your pack and the wind trying to knock you off. It was also going to keep the snow from softening on the upper slopes. There were some steep pitches, but not too steep that I could not ride them if the snow was firm so I kept climbing. I made it to the base of the summit pinnacle at noon.
Looking down the West Rib from close to the top
Summit from the top of the West Rib.
Jefferson has some of the best views of any of the volcanoes. To the north are Helens, Hood, Adams, and Rainier
To the south are Three Fingered Jack, Washington, North, Middle, and South Sister, Broken Top, Bachelor, and Diamond.
The summit was dropping big chunks of rime so I decided to find a safer place to wait for the snow to soften. I went down the ridge a bit and figured the rime would fall to one side or the other before getting to me. Fifteen minutes later, I was proven wrong when a fist-sized piece hit me in the back. My safe spot was not safe, time to go. The snow was still bullet proof on my expected down route but seemed to be a bit softer in the south gully off the summit that was getting more sun and was a bit sheltered from the wind. Unfortunately, the gully was quite steep and went around a rock band a hundred feet below me, so I was not sure it did not cliff out. I figured I could climb back out if I needed to and dropped in. Fortunately it went and was perfect corn.
Looking down the gully after I made it around the first turn and knew it went
Also fortunately, after I got through the steepest part, I traversed over a bit onto the side of the gully as a decent sized rock came flying down the middle. These gullies are serious funnels for anything coming off the mountain.
More epic turns and I traversed back up onto the ridge I climbed for the rest of the descent.
I made it down to the PCT and had just enough time to wash off in the creek, eat some food and take a short nap before Rebecca showed up. We went up the PCT to the snow line and set up camp.
The next morning we woke and climbed up the SW face to 9200 feet. It was amazing how much snow had melted out in the previous week but we were still able to get thousands of feet of great turns from our high point.
Rebecca at our high point
Climbing up a knoll to access a better line in the lower bowl
On July 5, Rebecca and I went to climb Adams and ride the SW Chutes. It would be the longest climb and the highest she had gone to date. It would also be the longest line she had ridden. I have taken too many photos of Adams over the last few years and I neglected to take any on this trip.
Here are the SW Chutes in the sun the morning after we rode them.
I was expecting to park at Morrison Camp and head cross country to meet up with the main south route. When we got there, the gate to Cold Springs was open so I decided to drive up and have a look. A short distance up, there were a number of cars so I thought we were done. Luckily we brought the big truck because someone mentioned that big trucks could make it all the way up almost to Cold Springs. Sure enough, three miles later, we were parked just shy of the Cold Springs TH with several other 4 x 4 trucks (the cars busted though the next day and it became a mob scene the day after that).
We left the truck at 4:30 in the morning. Rebecca made great time and we were on top of Pikers at just 10:30 with a couple of hours to spare. I went to the summit while Rebecca sat in the sun. At the summit I met Matt (MEJ on here) who had come from SLC with a couple of buddies and actually climbed straight up the chutes instead of taking the much easier south route.
At about 1 PM we all dropped into the chutes. The top was a bit firm and chunky but that gave way to thousands of feet of perfect corn. I hate round the mountain traverses so, as I have done in the past, at the bottom of the chutes we climbed the left slope 1400 feet back up to the Lunch Counter and then rode down the main south route to the end of the snow (almost the car). That put Rebecca’s total for the day at about 7450 vertical feet and mine at over 8000.
The next morning I drove around to the north side of Adams to have a look at the conditions. The north side of Adams is serious. NFNWR on right, Adams Glacier in the middle, North Ridge (Cleaver) behind the trees
Unfortunately, the route I figured I would ride, Lava Ridge, on the north side of Adams was too melted out in a couple of sections to even attempt so I went to the ocean.
North Ridge on the right and Lava Ridge on the left of Lava Glacier
I was planning to head to Glacier Peak for my final trip but due to construction, the 7 mile access road only opened a couple of days ago (I had been told the end of July). Glacier Peak is way in there so I did not feel like adding 14 miles to an already 36 mile round trip. I should get there next year.
Instead on the 13th, I headed back to Adams to ride the Avalanche Glacier Headwall, which is the steeper and much less ridden cousin of the SW Chutes.
Same deal, no photos. It is in the shade in the center of this photo. The top, lower angled part of the run is in the sun. Summit is to the upper left and Piker's Peak is to the right.
I left the car at 6:30 from Cold Springs and was on the summit at 11:15. Dropped the firm and bumpy summit down to the top of the Headwall. Made a short steeper drop though some rocks and onto a big less steep snowfield. A few hundred feet lower, the slope rolls at the next set of rocks. I expected it would roll steeper and let up a bit, but it doesn’t. Rockfall is a definite concern and there were a lot of checks over the shoulder to see if anything was coming. After the roll, it is a quite steep constant pitch 2000+ feet to the bottom. After a little traversing, I was back at the car by 1:30.
I am already dreaming of next year. Riding new lines only show you there are so many lines you have not ridden. Fortunately, there is a lot of surfing to do until then!!!
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2006 8:29 am Posts: 568 Location: Oregon
Awesome season as usual Buell - way to get after it! And Rebecca killed it this year, so stoked for her! I'm bummed we couldn't make plans work out to ride this season...seems like the scheduling just didn't work out for one reason or another, but I'm really looking forward to exploring a few new areas with you next year....especially on Jefferson! Enjoy the off season surfing!
_________________ "There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty." - Theodore Roosevelt