Mt Deception - Northeast ChuteDate:
4/15/2007Trip Report:Mt Deception: We skied the obvious chute that joins the summit ridge on looker's right. Phil stands in the distance next to the trees.
As our newfound interest in the Olympic Mountains blooms across the Puget Sound in the metropoles, it is nice for little worker bees to harvest some nectar now and then. Instead of crabbing about previous misfortunes, I clawed for my next opportunity to explore above the Dungeness River. "Olympic Peninsula" may trigger images of lush rainforests and terrible weather in the minds of most, but the peninsula hosts enough mountains to create a rainshadow, too. Sequim's paltry annual average of 16.1 inches of rain is signifantly less than Leavenworth's 25. Phil and I left Seattle in the wee hours of the morning for a circuitous drive over Tacoma Narrows, north to Sequim, then south above the Dungeness.
The weather was beautiful. We donned our packs with glee, ecstatic for the eight-mile hike to Royal Basin. The gorgeous moss-carpeted old-growth forest along the Dungeness reminds me of similar sylvan scenery along Fisher Creek in the North Cascades.
Royal Basin had a consistent snowpack. Navigation to the head of the basin took a few redirects due to a gauntlet of benches, moraines, and minidrainages. Our first views of Deception were delightful; its snowpack was fat. We were also delighted to ogle myriad magnificent terrain with all aspects available at the head of the basin.Looking down the valley from just below Royal BasinPhil boots toward the head of the basin.
Dust over crust in the basin became boot-top blower on our route, the northeast chute. What is this? Light, fluffy powder on the Olympic Peninsula in the middle of April!?
As giddy as school boys we booted up the route as quickly as our approach-taxed legs could kick. There was an icy spot where the route became more steep and exposed, then a steep section at the top of the chute. The ridge to the summit held copious snow.Phil dons crampons.Phil climbs to the top. He measured the slope where he is at 50 degrees with one of those little LifeLink gadgets.
The views were fleeting. Clouds were building from the west. Any disappointment was amply stifled by a successful summit and lovely line to ski. I've been expending big efforts with little success lately. Phil was expressing similar sentiments that prompted me to respond, "Let's get the descent under our belts before we celebrate too much."Ready to ski
A quick schuss down the ridge put us at the notch. Phil peered over it first. I joined him, noting that I didn't like the way the powdery inch on top uniformly slid from under the skis. I took a turn and my feelings about it didn't change. I wasn't concerned so much about avalanches as the slightly unpredictable snow suface. I sidestepped the first bit until I felt better about the snow, then made some steep turns on lovely edge-holding chalky snow. Phil followed.
And on my first ski descent from a summit in the Olympics, Zeus said, "Let there be powder!"Phil likes powder......and I do, too. (Last photo by Phil)
We returned on the ferry, but my mind is still floating in the clouds, tangled in a web of Deceit. Saltwater-rainforests-sunshine-April-POWDER??? Gear Notes:
Just crampons and an ice ax. Didn't use the skins.Approach Notes:
Boat/Bridge->Highway->Dirt road->Trail->Royal Basin