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ClimbUp/SkiDown

[TR] Mount Washington Oregon Cascades Ski - North Ridge 2/18/2009

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Trip: Mount Washington Oregon Cascades Ski - North Ridge

 

Date: 2/18/2009

 

Trip Report:

I've never posted on a trip report before, but being a backcountry skier and one who is frustrated by the lack of Oregon beta when it comes to winter routes (seriously, doesn't anyone get out WITHOUT a sled?) I felt I should share for those like minded powder hounds. My partner Aaron and our friend Jason (I AT, Aaron teles, Jason split boards. What a lovely threesome we make) parked at the Ray Benson snowpark for the first night of organizing gear, making grand plans for the two days and drinking too much beer. We camped over night in our cars and left the snow park about 7:30am. Our start was delayed slightly because Jason had tried to take a sled with him for his gear only to realize in the morning it just wasn't going to work out with his split board. He had to repack and shlep it all on his back like rest of us.

The trip in was under initially overcast skies with mid 30's temps and a gorgeous view of the mountain. The first 3 miles breezed by as it's essentially down hill on a groomed Nordic trail. Things got a little more dicey once on the PCT. The trail disappears at this point and it's straight route finding through at times tight trees. But, if you keep going up, eventually you top out at tree line with a great place to set camp and a magnificent view of the mountain! (see my approach notes for a more detailed route)

After setting camp and reorganizing our packs for ski duty, it was up and at them! Our first goal was the West Bowl starting from the base of the summit pinnacle. The approach was skinable to within 500 ft of the summit pinnacle. At this point we switched to boot packing and traversed bellow the rock band hanging over the West Bowl. Going up and over the band instead of under and around it may be doable with crampons, but we had none so we opted for the softer, deeper snow of the bowl

The first run down dropped us approximately 1200ft to the runout at the base of the bowl in PERFECT snow conditions! Highly stable, yet still light and puffy! After setting a skin track back up to the north ridge, we followed our track back towards the summit and dropped the East Bowl at about 6600 ft for a fun little chute with some cliff drops.

Climbing back onto the north ridge, we headed back to camp to catch the sunset.

Day two started at our camp in the trees at 6400 ft with a spectacular sunrise and full on alpenglow of the surrounding peaks. After breakfast, it was back up the ridge to our boot pack from the day before. We opted to leave out the rock badn traverse and do laps on both the East and West bowls. We broke camp around 1:30 and were back to our cars by 3:30.

Amazing weather, a perfect camp, phenomenal snow, and a great group dynamic all highlighted this trip. This is a completely doable two day adventure for relatively fit BC skiers with little technical mountaineering experience. If stable, the bowls are very safe (no major cliff bands or hazards) and high enough angle (40 to 45 degrees) to make for some hoot inducing turns! Let me know if you need more technical beta, and if anyone else has any two to three day Oregon Cascade trip plans, I'd love to hear them.

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Gear Notes:

Crampons and an ice axe make the boot pack safer and more accessible. If summiting, the pinnacle appears to be heavily iced. Screws, tools, and a harness should be added to a summit list.

 

Approach Notes:

Take the Ray Benson Nordic trail on the Brandenberg loop for about 3 miles. When the trail turns sharply west, cut across to the snowmobile road and look for the Pacific Crest Trail sign (which in our case was burried.) If you get to the shelter before cutting over to find the PCT, you've gone too far West. There are usually tracks that follow the PCT south, but make sure to stay on a south easterly bearing toward the foot of the north ridge of Mt Washington. You will be able to see the peak sporadically so keep it as your target.

Once the uphill starts, just keep following the fall line up until you crest out above treeline hopefully on the north ridge. Skin across the north ridge to your desired decent point. You will need to switch to boot packing approximately 500 ft bellow the pinnacle summit.

 

approximately 4.5 hr approach with 2000ft elevation gain.

3 hours on the return following our skin track in.

Edited by ClimbUp/SkiDown

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Sounds like a great trip.

The pics made it into your gallery, so they're on the site - now you just need to link them in your TR using the img function: [ img ] url.ending.with.jpg [ /img ] (no spaces)

 

If you need to find your gallery, just click on your name and choose View Photos, and then go to the picture (so it shows up medium sized), and right-click on it to get the URL.

 

like so:

IMG_13801.JPG

by the way - snow looked a little firm - how was the landing?

 

 

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The NE bowl below Washington is a really cool spot, eh? There's a cool satellite pinnacle on the ridge east of the summit pinnacle that I remember from years past, and in summer some very beautiful boulders in a nice meadow. Unfortunately, you can hear the highway from there but otherwise I remember it feeling very remote.

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I'm continually amazed with the sense of total wilderness that the Oregon Cascades provides. Honestly, other than the top of the chair lift on Hoodoo Butte, the only time I could see signs of civilization were at night when the lights of Redmond and the cars on highway 20 were barley visible. The same is true of Mt. Jefferson as well. Total immersion

Edited by ClimbUp/SkiDown

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I think the N. Cascades offer more sense of "immersion" but I'm with you in that the OR Cascades are an under-recognized gem. The wild cinder cone area north of North Sister, for example: a very special place that NOBODY ever writes about. And those lava flows south of Mt. Washington are another gem. The McKenzie Pass road is amazing! The obsidian lava flow up on Newberry Crater, another AMAZING roadside attraction. The Oregon Cascades rock!

 

I have not been up Jefferson but I'm sure it wouldn't disappoint!

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And the picture doesn't do it justice, the snow was surprisingly soft... which I needed in spades
Nice, I'm glad to hear that. I haven't been getting on the snow this season due to various reasons, but it's good to hear that the B/C conditions have been better recently. It helps one to live vicariously...

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Back in 2009 this approach would usually take 4.5 hrs but with all the spandex and featherweight first aid kits available these days folks are getting it done much quicker.

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  • That's funny! 1

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