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[TR] Dakobed Range - Solo Traverse around Tenpeak 5/12/2007


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Trip: Dakobed Range - Solo Ski Traverse around Tenpeak


Date: 5/12/2007


Trip Report:

Last week I spent 6 days, alone, working my around Tenpeak and skiing what I found along the way. I kept a journal. Here are some excerpts, some memories, and some photos:


Day 1:











I had a scare today when I came upon a bear. It was about 6:30 pm when I first saw him. I was down wind and saw him before he saw me. I was pretty freaked- wasn't expecting to encounter one so close. I took a few moments to gather myself before I alerted him to my presence. When he stood and looked me in the eye my heart about stopped. I tried not to stare, despite his beauty. Not surprisingly he couldn't care less about me and no sooner had he sized me up than he walked uphill and slowly made his way around to behind me. I quickly went on in the direction I was heading.





Now it's 9:45 pm. I'm sitting in my mega-light, the first night of my trip, and I'm pooped. Seeing the bear made me feel vulnerable. Now it's raining. My doubts and fear are on the verge of taking over my thoughts. I feel them just behind my attention to what I'm doing. I imagined that the first night would be the hardest. I hope the weather is good tomorrow. I didn't make it far today. 2 difficult stream crossings saw me straddling fallen trees, cowboy style, as I ferried first my pack then my skis across raging water underneath. I don't feel like writing. I'm tired, and a little too close to being scared. I don't want any problems with bears tonight....


Day 2


Hard to motivate this morning. It rained much of the night and into early morning. I awoke around 5:45. There were sounds of rain, but I didn't have the heart to look. I was cold and tired. I propped myself up to heat a liter of water. When it got hot, I poured it into my nalogene bottle and brought it into my bag with me. I fell asleep almost instantly and slept until 9. For the next half hour I fought my negativity. My clothes were wet. My skins were were soaked, as were my boots and socks. I didn't know exactly where I was within the valley. The storm had disrupted my altimeter the day before. I'd walked for 9 hours, but had only climbed 200 feet according to my watch. Not surprisingly, there had been more streams than what the map had shown.


I was packed and moving by 11. I decided to get out of the valley so that I could get my bearings. I also needed somed visual reminders/motivation for why I was here in the first place.






As I got higher, the weather got better and my spirits began to lift. I realized I was in Thunder Basin. I wanted to be in Lightning Creek Basin. I decided to make camp along the ridge between the two, with the hope of finding a way to cross over sometime tomorrow.








Day 3


Got up around 9:30 and was moving by 10:30. I climbed the ridge separating Thunder and Lightning creeks.




When I realized I couldn't descend into Lightning Creek I changed my intinerary. I'd drop down onto the east side of the ridge, then climb to the high point- marked 7652' on the map. Ski down to 6500', then climb back up to the col east of Tenpeak.











I remebered from a Scurlock Photo that there was pretty good looking line heading off the north side of the Col. But when I got to it I almost cried. It was much steeper than I had anticipated. The convex roll at the top of the 2000+' drop did nothing to ease my mind. I dropped my pack and spent a half hour with my crampons and ice axe trying to find the best entry point into the couloir. When I was able to visulize myself making turns I shouldered my pack and headed down.




I made camp at the bottom. I climbed 3600' feet today and descended 4400'. I'm tired, but I feel good about the way things turned out.










Day 4


I backed off something today that I had stated as a goal of the trip: the north couloir of Tenpeak. Andreas Schmidt skied it in 1993, and Scurlock has some wonderful photos of it. But on the way to its base, the snow was too hard for my liking. I was gripped, so I pulled my skins and skied down. Now, as I sit beneath it, sun shines beautifully overhead. It probably would have been perfect. I feel as though I failed in some way. I faced a moment of definition, and I defined myself in retreat. But my head wasn't in it. I was too psychologically spent from yesterday and the day before. A part of me checked out when I finished my descent yesterday from the col. I had felt a huge release to finally be on the north side. Up until then I'd had serious doubts about whether I'd be able to complete a traverse of anything interestring. It's immature to think in terms of failure. I just made a mistake. I thought skiing the couloir would be too risky. My mistake was in not realizing that it would get direct exposure during the middle third of the day. I had actually timed it perfectly. Oh well- i don't know why, but it's easier to live with a mistake than a failure.... I have a lot of respect for Andreas.




I spent the rest of the day making my way up Honeycomb Glacier, and enjoying the views of Glacier Peak.









Day 4 is coming to a close. I sit underneath a flapping mega-light, hoping it doesn't blow down during the night. A storm looks like it's coming in. I've decided not to attempt Glacier Peak.




Day 5


Looking out of my tent this morning, I find it hard to resist Glacier Peak's beauty. But I have to be back in Seattle early tomorrow evening so I know that it'll have to wait until another time. I still have 4000+' of valley to descend before I can find the trail home. Instead, I'll get the joy of the peak just off to my right.Map says it's at just over 8100'. Looks like it could be fun.....









It's 7:45 pm. Since this morning I've been looking forward to seeing the trailhead. I pushed up to 8100', had a great ski down, then battled my way to the valley bottom for 5 hours. I was determined to make it to my car this evening. But just after 6 I came upon a stretch of trail that overlooked the White River. I paused, looked around at the peaks surrounding me, felt sunlight wash over me, and noticed a piece of dry, grassy earth just to the side. The thought of sleeping on THAT apepaled way more to me than several post-midnight hours in a bed. So I made camp for one last time.





Now it's 10:00. I've been standing here, outside my tent for almost two hours. I've seen deer, a robin, mountains change from golden to rose to brilliant white against a black sky. I've moved occasionally, but I've been so captivated by the beauty of this place that I've had no inclincation other than to stand here looking. I feel like I've come down from some other world. And yet I still feel enveloped in wilderness. The combination of those two sentiments enriches something deep in my soul. I feel like a better person for being where I am right now. Thank you Dakobed Range, for a wonderful week.





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a fine narrative for sure, but would be a candidate for best tr-ever if you rewrite it to have the bear follow you over the course of the week until you eventually trap it, handcuff it to a downed spruce, and grudge-fudge it to death for it's links to neo-fascist-islamists :)


too bad i wasn't in on the trip - we could have had the script all worked out for the tv series by the time we hit the p-lot back home


maybe i should learn to ski?

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Way to get after it Ryan, I have been wanting to ski that same couloir for some time now. Congratulations on your whole trip and spending that time in solitude....not many folks are comfortable for that length of time.

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just fantastic, ryan. beautiful tr - i loved the photos and the narrative. for me, you were able to capture the magic of soloing and the multitude of feelings you go through - from the fear and the doubts ... to the personal growth and empowerment, and the quiet inner bliss. :-) excellent work.

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Inspiring trip, The White River Valley is the most buggy I know and gets very overgrown making the approach to Lightning not much fun. Great thought to go in summer, since the trail is not great beyond six miles in the summer. Good choice on not skiing couloir when alone. You pushed limits conservatively. Great evening shot of camp.

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