|Tutus, the self arrest device of professional alpinists everywhere! Photo by Frank|
Like all good decisions and trip plans, this one was made with the help of alcohol. Let me back up first though. Initially, Theresa wanted to go do the SW chutes of Adams and got Kristina and I on board. On Thursday it was clear the weather would be terrible for Sunday. I was interested in trying for the Sisters down in Oregon where the weather looked clear and made a post in the Splitboarders of WA facebook page about it, Frank said he was in. On Friday we all went to "pint night" at OR's Seattle store and discussed options. The ladies did not want to spend 12 hours of their lives in a car and get home at midnight on a Sunday. Understandable. I suggested we try for a go at a couloir on Mix Up peak in the North Cascades. "Think it'll rain?" Probably.
|Our route in red, photo taken a few weeks prior by Devin Monas on Sahale Arm|
We started the trip off at 5am at the 65th park and ride, where I promptly locked my keys in my car. Thankfully Kristina had practice avy probing for Subaru door locks and I was willing to accept the possibility of breaking my window prying on it with ice axes. We got the keys out with the only injury being to my dignity.
|The first time my avy probe has been used in a life or death situation, Photo by Frank|
Cascade River road is freshly graded and open all the way to the summer lot, hooray for toilets! Once we were geared up it started to rain a bit.
|Artificial stoke!, photo by Frank|
|Actual stoke from Frank......4 hours of sleep from me! Photo by Kristina|
To keep things in proper North Cascade fashion we decided to start the trip with a little jaunt through some slide alder and devils club. Note to self: the plastic part in the center of my snowboard boots does NOT grip on wet slide alder......
|All alder, all the time|
|Tutus in the mist|
While a bit morale degrading, the schwacking went quickly and we were on some dirty sun cup avy debris snow.
|Transition time! Photo by Frank|
Once up the valley we found the snow fingers at the steeper section still in, just barely, and decided to switch to crampons and boot packing for the remainder.
|Don't go chasing waterfalls|
|A quick little boot. Photo by Frank|
Yes. Up. We are going up.
|Visibility was ALL TIME, ALL OF THE TIME! Photo by Frank|
|Doing stupid things makes me happy. Photo by Frank|
|This place rocks, no seriously see the rocks!? Photo by Frank|
|What the hell is that bright orb? Photo by Frank|
As it got steeper further up I tried to move up to the right to get on a ridge and out of the exposure in the main face. I found the snow to the side wallowing glop, which happened to measure at 58 degrees. There was no way that self belay with an ice ax was going to hold you if the snow under your feet gave. This was sketch. I asked Kristina to continue breaking climbers left and up the main face while I waited for everyone to cross below me. I believe this section was still in the mid 50 degree pitch range, I had to switch to a high dagger hold on my axe instead of self belay for fear of falling over backwards, yup it's steep.
|It may actually still be steeper then it looks|
|Booty, booty, booty, booty, rocking everywhere.|
For the final pitch Theresa took over the kicking duties and got us up to a ledge below a rock where we had a rather tight transition.
|Getting to the final third. Photo by Frank|
|Me and a giant diving board booter rock for someone who has no common sense. Photo by Frank|
Once down and out to the side I radioed up for Frank, I could tell when he went as I heard the rumble of more slough (and some rocks) come down and out. After he had taken the same line to the right it was apparently all exposed rocks and cracks. Kristina took it left of the rocks and again slough management was key. Poor Theresa dropped last to find rocks and cracks in every direction. She pushed through having to step through one quite dicey section.
Below the couloir the lower flanks of mix up had some decent turns that soon became gloppy sticky junk. We went out skiers right below Cascade Pass and took the one remaining snow finger back to the valley (will be melted out quite soon). The valley was the expected firm avy debris and sun cups.
|Then it got sunny!?|
At the parking lot we ran in to a NOLS group who were about to set off for a 10 day traverse out to the Hidden Lakes area, that sounded like incredible fun in this wonderful weather. We also met another group of skiers who had camped out on Sahale waiting for nicer weather that never came. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who completely ignores weather reports. We were back to Seattle already by around 5:30, home in time to do laundry and sit on a couch for a minute or two. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday!