Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mt. Hood - 11.29.08

Sometimes the weather does not cooperate.

This is my first non-trip report. Julie, Dan and I had planned to ski/board Mount Hood. For Julie and I it would be more of a ski learning experience. I'm pretty sure Dan would have no problems with the sliding part. The goal was to skin to the Hogsback, foot it up to the summit and ski down to the parking lot. Forecasts for Hood for Saturday started out fantastic. (0% chance of precip, "Sunny") By the time we were about to leave for Hood, the forecast had taken a bit of a turn, but not enough to discourage going. (It had been changed to partly cloudy with no precip.)

When we arrived in the parking lot for Timberline Lodge, it was 37° and raining. I assumed it would pass as it was supposed to rain/snow a bit Friday. However, as we woke up late on summit day, it was still 37° and cold rain was still falling. Dan and I packed up the tent and we all jumped in the car to leave.

This was an interesting attempt and it shows that weather forecasting is not an exact science. Best I can tell, the system that was supposed to pass through Friday, came late and was not done passing through when we left Saturday morning. The rain was definitely melting snow at the 6000' level, and may have been falling as heavy wet snow higher up. But, visibility was very low, and we would have had to mostly hike up to snow from the parking lot. Not ideal. When is the snow pack going to be good?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Heliotrope Ridge - 11.23.08

Dan and I decided to earn our turns at Heliotrope Ridge on Sunday. Trip Reports all week were coming back in decent favor of the Heliotrope Ridge area. Since the area received new snow since the trip reports, we figured it would be in great condition.

We arrived in the brisk 32° parking lot around 8:30am. The only issue we could complain about was the lack of coverage. There is not enough snow in the woods to skin. (Although it appears some people tried.) This involved hiking in my randonee boots and Dan in his board boots. Once above tree line, the snow coverage was not too great, but we started skinning anyway. Winds were high and we even considered turning around. I lobbied to see what was over the rise. After all, the seven people in front of us did not turn around. When we got up to the upper slopes, we were reminded why we came. Two skiers were making first tracks from a high point on the ridge as we followed the skin track up.

We got the the top, and went to the high point on the ridge. Then it time for turns. Dan went first off of two steeper lips and stopped to take pics of me skiing down. Off the second lip, I fell. Although mostly just laid down into the slope. Got up and made some nice turns to Dan's location. The snow was soft and my skis penetrated it by 3-5". We took turns riding down to take photos of each other. Once about halfway down the slope, we returned to the skin track to have lunch. It was about 12:30pm.

After lunch we skinned back up to a high point further east on the ridge and decided to take a line down a mostly untracked convex hill. We reached the top, and once again hiked to the summit of a small pinnacle before removing skins and riding down. This run was top notch and super fun. We skied to the bottom of the main hill and decided to make an attempt at riding out as far as possible.

Things went fairly well on the way out, but I hit a thin patch and after hearing three "clicks" I decided to stop. The snow got fat again immediately after I removed my skies, but the boot hiking I did afforded me the opportunity to stumble onto a gathering of ptarmigans in full Winter plumage. I finally reached Dan, and we hiked out. We arrived at the car at 3:30pm after leaving it at 9am in the morning.

Overall, the weather was great (except for the 30mph gusts at times.) Dan and I and the two dozen others up there were all in great spirits and you couldn't stop hearing people saying things like "you cannot ruin this day." It was a fantastic way to break into the ski season.

Dan's pics are here.

My pics are here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dry Tooling - 11.02.08

Went on a dry tooling field trip with the club on Sunday. We went to a small crag specifically used for dry tooling practice near the road side in Issaquah. There are 4-5 top roped variations on the wall ranging from 5.5 to 5.9. It was interesting climbing 5th class rock with crampons on. We started the day with just crampons and using hands instead of ice tools. After a brief hail shower, we started up the routes with tools which made me concentrate even more on my footwork. While sometimes the tools felt really great in their placements, other times they felt like they would pop if you moved up on them. I plan to go back and get some more practice in as it was enjoyable, and interesting. Due to the anticipated precip, I did not even bring a camera.