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[TR] Multiple Cascade Volcanos - 4/22/2015

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Trip: Multiple Cascade Volcanos -


Date: 4/22/2015


Trip Report:

April 22 - May 1 2015 Shasta, McLaughlin, South Sister, Hood, Adams, Rainier

After a winter in Tahoe filled with groomers and dirt patches, Patrick and I decided it was time for some real skiing. So we counted the days before summer work started farther north, packed our trucks and bought some Poptarts – it was time for some Cascade volcanoes. While we did ski some dirt patches, and even one very sticky groomer, it rejuvenated our skiing stoke and brought us to some amazing places.


Shasta: Day one was a warmup afternoon mission. Left the car a little after noon, headed past Horse Camp up to the top of Giddy Giddy Gulch. Smooth skinning and bright overcast were the name of the game as we got our legs under us. After pulling our skins, we were greeted with a few thousand feet of perfect fall line corn before picking our way through the bottom of Avalanche Gulch back to the car.


We had another smooth skin for the morning of day two, although ski crampons made things easier on frozen snow. Patrick proctored a “Shasta Landmarks 101” class for me, but by Camp Helen we were ready to put our heads down and climb. We switched to boot crampons by the bottom of the heart, and made our way through the Red Banks moving pretty slowly. I found Misery Hill not to be miserable in stature, but surely in snow conditions. What looked to me like melt-freeze sastrugi made for some interesting skinning. A jaunt across the summit plateau and boot up the final pitch put us on top for a smile and a picture in the sun. My first time, but Patrick has numerous under his belt.


The skiing up high required low expectations for a smile, but we sported them regardless. Around 12,000 ft the sun had done its magic and the smiles grew. We skied a little shot through the Red Banks and then opened up down Avi Gulch. A little above Helen the snow started to get rotten, and we cruised past other parties setting up camp. The moraines between Helen and Spring Hill were spectacular pitches of perfect depth corn. We got our boots dirty walking the twenty yards from snow to parking lot, and had some sun to dry our gear.


McLaughlin: With confidence and spirits high, we headed for the Rye Spring trailhead to ski the Southwest face of McLaughlin. We were early to sleep with the sound of rain on our trucks, but awoke to the silence of a little fresh snow. A thick cloud layer capped the old Douglas Firs, and made the lava flows and black and white desert. With no trail or visibility, this was strictly and GPS and compass route to treeline. Once on the flanks of the mountain, we had the decision between slippery boulder fields or thick bushwhacking. After pondering and some objective trial runs, we decided both sucked and kept slowly moving towards the cloud with our skis on our backs. After a few thousand more feet and no sign of the snow line, we put smiles on our faces and jokes in the air by turning and heading back for the truck. We made it to a warm, dry house in Bend without seeing the mountain.



South Sister: Our plan to ski the South Sister received a revision when we learned there is a closed gate six miles from the trailhead. But we are young and brimming with confidence, so we just tacked 12 miles to our day. The first mile of road was snowy, but it was dry from then on. We had our skis on our back for the first 1,000 ft above Devils Lake. Clouds started rolling in as we skinned the plateau above Moraine Lake and started up the South Ridge. We had a whiteout with sideways rain by the time we were on the ridge beside Lewis Glacier at around 9,000 ft. We had a few rocks on our left and a large cornice on our right as handrails up the ridge as it got skinnier. With no desire to experience the wind in full force on the summit plateau, we skied from 10,000 ft on the south ridge. We skied by feel, and flopped over when our brain's perception of motion did not match reality. We got a handful of worthwhile turns as we got below the clouds at around 8,000 ft, but it got sticky and gloppy quickly. Back to the shoes, and back to the pavement for a tired walk back to the trucks in the Mt. Bachelor parking lot.IMG_04194.JPGIMG_02374.JPGIMG_04322.JPG

Hood: Mount Hood was everything that McLaughlin and the South Sister were not. Hood was quick, sunny and straightforward, with plenty of good skiing. A morning drive from Bend had us on an alpine start time of 10:00am. The snow was already soft as we slogged up past Timberline ski lifts. Good skinning up to Hogsback, then we switched to boot crampons for Mazama Chute. Ice axes came out for the very top of Mazama, then we had a quick jaunt across the skinny ridge to the true summit. Mazama Chute provided some great soft turns on the way down. With strong sun and a late start, some wet slides were coming off of the Castle Crags, so we opted to follow our more mellow up route on the way down. It sure was sticky down low, rub on wax was a nice thing to have. Five hours car to car, and an afternoon to dry things in the parking lot were welcome on this trip.


Adams: We put our creaky trucks to the test and headed up to the Cold Springs trailhead of Mount Adams. After half and hour on foot we transitioned to skis and headed up to the Lunch Counter. There were three other parties within sight, and two were moving quite slowly up towards Pikers Peak. We decided to boot up towards the false summit and made good time on the frozen but not too hard snow. There was a pretty chilly wind moving up to the true summit, but the sun was out and we were feeling good. We spent some time in a sheltered spot just below the summit, chatting with another party and hoping the snow would soften. The skiing from the summit to the top of the Southwest Chutes was similar to Misery hill on Shasta, but a little better. Once in the SW Chutes, the snow was smooth but barely edgable for the first 800 ft or so. A small slip would have meant a long slide, and it would have been a shame to have all the beautiful scenery go by so quickly. To our delight, the majority of the SW Chutes were beautiful corn, which un-puckered certain body parts significanly. Hard traversing at about 8,600 ft got us close but no cigar to the trail we took up, so we found ourselves working across the some steep burned forest back to the trail.


Rainier: Tired bodies and vague reports of large crevasses scaled back our Rainier plans from an all day route finding summit quest to a pleasant jaunt up to Moon Rocks. We had smooth sailing in the breeze up the Muir Snowfield, and excellent corn down the Nisqually Chutes. The warm parking lot provided high-fives and some snowbank crevass rescue practice.


I can safely say we both had an excellent trip. We were constantly stoked to be on our skis in the mountains. Thank you so much to the friends we visited on our rest days - we loved the conversation, food, whitewater rafting and washing machines.


Gear Notes:



Approach Notes:

Varied, snow is going quickly

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