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St. Helens, Solo Ski Circumnavigation


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Left Cougar Sno-Park Saturday April 18. Skiied up the 81 Rd. to Redock pass. Tried to find Butte Camp trail but all the mmarkers must have been buried. Oh well, upwards and onward, made Butte Camp at noon. Skinned up a steep narrow gully to avoid exposed soft snow on a rock slab. Passed Butte dome then headed West along Loowit trail. Still no markers. When I did this same route 15 years ago we were able to navigate by markers sometimes. Many gullys and canyons to cross. Every 45 minutes pose a new chalenge.

Much head scratching and route finding. Had to drop 900 feet to get arround huge canyon the back up again. Made camp at 6 PM along the impact zone. Made 12 miles today.

Skiied over to Sheeps Canyon on hard icy surface then headed down. Looks quite intimidating! It is a 1600 ft drop to cross the South Fork of the Toutle River, snow getting softer all the time. After much consternation I spent 1 hour moving rocks to make a crossing. Lunch then up a wicked 900 ft climb up the other side. Time for another break and take some pics of the fabulous scenery except the friging camera would not work! Was on the edge of the "restricted" zone. Decided to continue another mile or two. Three hours later got to camp two. Always one obstacle or another. Made camp 6 Pm. 6 Miles Sunday.

Day 3 was skiing across the north side. Lesser angle but still lots of canyons and gullys to cross. I could make out traces of the loowit trail occasionally, some low cairns. No skins today. Skiing Karhu Guides so kicking and gliding! Sow depth on the S side was 10 + feet, on the N side was 13 inches. Had to navigate a maze of small snow fields and pumice fields all usually heading the wrong direction. Crossed Loowit Creek at noon, keep heading eastward. Awsome scenery! Way to hot! Start turning the corner and ascending folowing rock cairns to Windy Pass. Up over Windy Pass, out of the "restricted area" down to the Plains Of Abraham. Skiied down the Lahar to the 83 Rd. then 6 miles to Marble Mountain Sno-Park. Arrived at 7:30 PM. 18 miles Monday. Got a ride the remaining 4 miles back to my truck. Headed home for a beer! Great trip, nice weather, (way to nice), My pack was 59 pounds. Could have got by way lighter. Very hard mentaly and physically!

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I tried the sled thing years ago. They do not sidehill worth a crap. You need a flap brake to stop it from pulling you back on the uphill. I do encourage you to experiment with it. I have read some reports from skiiers who are sold on them. Good Luck!

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