Trip Report: On the 11th I booted and skied the NWC on Mt. Shuksan. Encountering mostly good but slightly wind affected snow. In a spot just above the first cliff band there was a questionable slab... I did some tests - finding that there indeed was a slab there but it did not propagate well with an extended column test, so I traversed a little to the left, and no more slab. The high traverse to the entrance chute was very icy, with a thick breakable ice crust and a bit of solid water ice here and there. Mostly good snow in the upper chute with maybe a 10' section of hard ice crust near the top. There was also a short section of rime ice above the couloir entrance that I made a point to remember for the ride down. I'm finding that I like to boot pack more thank skin, something about the movement speaks to me.
The next day, after some grocery shopping in kendall, I parked my rig a quarter mile or so past the DOT on Twin Lakes Road... Skinned in, then booted up the gully to the west of Winchester, I descended and set up a bivy at the headwaters of Tomyhoi creek, I fell asleep under a canopy of stars, Orion directly overhead. In the morning I ascended the west ridge of Larrabee which had me kinda skered because it was mostly hard rime ice with serious exposure -- my intended descent route. At the summit I questioned my original intention, after some thought I decided to descend the south face route instead of the west ridge. Cautious turns down hard rime ice off the summit led me to the entrance of the south face, but on a whim I dropped into the east face instead, thinking that I would just skin back up and ski the south face too... But instead, once at the base of the face, I traversed out to the Pleiades couloirs and climbed and skied both of them.
The first (the west one) was longer than the second, and held a hidden top portion, it held mostly good-variable conditions, the second held terribly crusty conditions necessitating jump turns to bust through the crust. On the way up the second I developed a painful leg cramp in my lower right quadricep, but being pretty close to the top, and having a hunch that the pain was just coming from a muscle cramp, I pushed on, I felt the pain during the skiing, but I had to ignore it because a fall was not an option. The angle mellowed once out of the rock walls, and I skied the phatty lower couloir/gully ALL the way to the valley floor(a long way down) it got dark. I massaged my painful leg a little, melted some water, ate some hot food, then began the long ascent up to the col between Winchester and Larrabee eying the way in twilight before dark. My leg started to feel a little better, but I was gimping it very slowly, staggering awkwardly to avoid stressing the muscle. I was booting up somewhere in some trees, and snow began to fall, it grew steadily heavier as did the wind. Reaching the col, I got lost for a bit before I dropped into Tomyhoi basin where I recovered my bivy gear, then ascended towards Winchester hut in heavy winds and snow, feeling stupid for forgetting my gps.
I was surprised to find the door of the hut locked, I knocked... no answer, then bellowed an awkward "hello" ... "hello" in return came from inside. It was apparently around one o'clock in the morning, limping up from the valley had taken me quite a while... The peoples inside were super cool and cooked me a hot meal, I told them that I had intended to descend after an hour or so rest in the hut, but I ended up spending the night. The storm pounded the hut all night. In the morning, I set out in the still stormy whiteout and proceeded to descend - ski cuuttin slabs left and right, flushing my intended descent route( a gully) occasionally ski cutting a slab off the side of the gully, deepest crown was probably around 2 1/2 feet... Amazing powder skiing lower down...
The ski on the road out was slow cause the deep damp snow stuck to my skis, and the leg cramp returned. After about six miles I found my motorhome and road-out under two feet of snow, shit... I am a dumbass for sure, for throwing away my rusted chains and not getting another pair, for not respecting the unpredictability of the weather, for parking up the hill instead of at Hannagen pulloff... To make the story short, I took some advice from a passerby, who said that I should coast down in first gear and to "lay off the brake" After digging out and turning around I ended up loosing control a couple hundred feet down, with my front driver side tire half hanging off the steep embankment, truck tilted, I remained calm as it went down, but I am really glad I didn't loose my transport and home in the rollover into trees below that would have resulted if I stopped a foot two later.
This morning, the BP pulled me off tha' cliff and I gingerly drove down with ebrake half applied/sometimes more, front brake applied accordingly, and clutch and first gear in necessary transition. Looking back on my time there on the road -- there was little hardship, I was well provisioned and warm enough - except some shivering at night that I am used to -- in hindsight, I see that my experience was a positive one, since I had some high quality times playing my guitar -- I think I finally broke out of that plateau that I've been stuck on.
Thanks for your comments and pictures. I've noticed that I have a quarter size bruise on my leg where my pain was/is, so I must've got pegged by some ice while climbing the couloir, there was stuff coming down and I remmember a few stings.
clarification, from Frankcd's Photo -- Frank I hope you don't mind that I had to load your pic onto my webshots to paint/post it.