[TR] Icicle Ridge/Tumwater Canyon - Steep Creek descent 3/5/2008
Erok replied to Erok's topic in the *freshiezone*I'm not a big postee, you can have your Avatar homie, I probably wouldn't want to be confused with you anyway.
[TR] Mt. Cashmere Summit and Ski - NE Couloir 3/5/2008
Erok replied to telemarker's topic in Alpine LakesThat's what I'm talkin' 'bout!.
Trip: Icicle Ridge/Tumwater Canyon - Steep Creek descent Date: 3/5/2008 Trip Report: I've been eying the lines in Tumwater Canyon quite a bit this winter. Actually I've been looking at them since I moved here four years ago. I'd imagine any backcountry enthusiast around here with half a pulse has had ambitions for these lines visible from just about anywhere in downtown Leavenworth. With the recent clear weather combined with intense thaws and nightly hard freezes I decided the time might be right to go investigate. I personally prefer solid hardpack and icy conditions to loose snow that may be likely to slide, especially in a gully/terrain trap such as STEEP CREEK. Wednesday morning I was out the door by 5am and booting up the Icicle Ridge trail at 5:30am under clear skies 23F. The first half-hour illuminated by headlamp. Sunshine was pouring over the eastern foothills just as I reached the saddle where most people turn-around. Also continuous snowpack began just below the first saddle @3000ft. about a half hour later I began encountering hints of fresh snow from Monday's weather system. On the way up several times I scrambled to the ridgecrest to scope the lines in Tumwater. The main drain, POWER CREEK, I believe, did not look promising, halfway between ridge and river was a nasty, vertical choke-point wall with a landing strewn with rocks, mud and avy debris, followed by thousands of more feet of distance of run out bathed in intense full sunshine covered by a very thin snowpack on the verge of melting alltogether. Thoughts of getting rim-rocked in Tumwater Canyon and having to explain to my wife what took all damn day raced through my head. Further up the ridge I scouted another possible descent route, STEEP CREEK. This was a very shady, very sheltered, north facing gully. It had good coverage, and it looked like it would "go" all the way to a steep tree section close to the Wenatchee riverbank. I continued hiking up the ridge in the vicinity of the summer trail. The fresh snow got deeper and more widespread until it ranged from 3-9 inches of dry, wind-affected powder hiding various mostly supportable crusts. I never wore my snowshoes on this trip. I reached my highpoint for the day at 10am at an elevation of approx. 5300' in the low-angle burn area way up on the ridge and found a gorgeous break spot on a knoll with a great view looking down on the Snow Creek Wall and over to MT Stuart across the Icicle canyon. After drinking a barley-wine (Old Foghorn) and taking a short break it was time to strap-in and get my ass home. I'll admit I had a good case of "the willies" going so I consciously made myself focus on alertness and good decision-making. As I snowboarded away from my break-spot I was delighted by excellent tree-skiing in boottop pow through the mature '94 forestfire burn area. Low angle, but very enjoyable and laced with snow mushrooms and other fun terrain obstacles. After approx 800ft of vert over 3/4ths of a mile I reached the corridor that led to the entrance slope for the gully. I stopped momentarily and peered into the abyss. Looking in I became confident that this descent was possible. I saw no major barriers between where I was (est.4500-4700ft el.) and the river far, far below. However it was still a looonnggg way down and I couldn't see everything. Dropping into the top of the funnel the first dozen turns were nice enough, then dust-on-crust, finally deteriorating to frozen hard pack and finally a warzone/minefield of rock-hard deep ruts filled with large chunks of frozen avy debris. No one would look good skiing or riding this shit. The steep (55degree) hardpack was rough on the foot muscles and I stopped twice to loosen my straps. I rode through the bottom of the impressive gully funnel and entered the steep trees and finished my ride where it flattens a couple hundred feet from the riverbank. At this point I was rather euphoric and called up my buddy Rhys to have him pick me up at the rusty old Pipeline bridge that spans the Wenatchee river near the bottom of Tumwater Canyon. It had taken an hour to reach the bridge from my high point on the knoll. I was back home with the family by 12:30pm approx. 4000ft of vert, 6miles r/t(?) 6-1/2hrs truck-to-truck . p.s. If anyone else has any experiences descending Tumwater Canyon they'd like to share, I'd be interested. Approach Notes: Hiking, no need for snowshoes.