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pope

Tatoosh Sunday

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Sometimes you can tell what the conditions on a route will be like before you make the approach. I stepped out of my car at the Narada Falls parking area; having failed to notice the ice patch directly under my driver's door, my first move for the day was to fall on my ass. "Oh well, at least it's cold," thought I. One look around and I was pretty sure it would be cool to leave the snowshoes in the Honda.

 

Conditions were so nice, I almost got out the cramps on the first open slope, but with new boots, I could just nick my way up. I followed the road around and just before dropping into the woods, I met a couple of dudes who had apparently met with some less than ideal conditions on the Zipper (I assume on Saturday). Their story of swimming through sugar snow and falling into slide alder wells almost caused me to change plans. Yet, I've been on the route enough to know that when the approach is that solid, the route should be stellar.

 

In the marshy area below the route, I heard a "crack" and then observed a 30-ft diameter area of snow that had settled into the water, leaving concentric-circular cracking patterns in the sun crust. The avalanche debris at the base of the Zipper was flint-hard and flawless ice. It's condition took me by surpise. I was edging up crunchy snow with ski poles in hand when I tried to kick a boot into this icy debris. Jeesh! OK, time for crampons.

 

The gully's first bulge had a 50-60 degree ramp with easy sticks. Very secure. By now, I was climbing up into the warmer air of the inversion. Snow melting off the trees and rocks was funneling past. No time for horse cock or meditating on Big Lou.

 

Near the top, a large chockstone presented a real problem. It had none of that consolidated, snow/water ice on where it jams the right wall, where I've snuck around in the past (in heavy-snow years, this feature is hardly noticed). Sunday, the chockstone had some ice on it's left edge, but this would have required a pull-up. On the right, sugar snow formed a 70 degree bulge. Of course, trying to climb this resulted in just destroying it. Ultimately, a wide stem was required. Aboved, super nice ice/snow provided a nerve-calming exit. It would have been nice to have a rope, and I'm not ashamed to say I grabbed my second tool.

 

The south side of Lane peak had some great corn snow! I was wishing I had spent the day skiing up there instead. I scrambled up the steeper gully (closer to the Zipper notch) which was so warm, snow wouldn't adhere to the rock once things got steep. I had to escape to the rock on the right and scramble some 4-th.

 

In summary, very nice to get out yesterday. Two hours from the car to get up (due to the nice conditions, not my fitness!)

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Pope,

 

No reason to have brought the skis. We went up towards Unicorn and the descent sucked yesterday. Yes, the south slopes were nice but going back down the North side to the car was crap.

Once we were in the shade there was a typical 2" crust over soft snow. The final slope from the road to the parking lot was a mangled sheet of ice.

 

Nice day though. Nice inversion.

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