February 07, 2010

Tatoosh Skiing

Anxious for an overnight trip, Ava and I randomly decided on a ski trip to the Tatoosh Range, which lies just south of Mt. Rainier. Our ultimate objective was to summit Unicorn Peak, the highest point in the range.

Best View we had in 2 Days of Mt. Rainier (Saturday)

The weather forecast called for partly cloudy skies on Saturday, and improving conditions on Sunday. Based on the weather as we skied in on Saturday afternoon, we thought we'd have adequate conditions on Sunday for the climb. After skiing about 7 miles, we set up camp near the base of Unicorn Peak.

I had recently bought a new tent, and this was the first opportunity to use it. I'll take this opportunity to praise this new tent, the Black Diamond Eldorado (formerly made by Bibler). This is a single-wall, 4-season tent made with ToddTex fabric. The fabric is downright magical! Not only is it waterproof, but the inside of the fabric is slightly fuzzy and somehow prevents moisture buildup. I cannot describe how nice this feature is, as it aids dramatically in one's ability to keep everything in the tent dry.

The New Tent's Maiden Voyage

It snowed lightly all night, accumulating only about an inch or two. The next morning we awoke to patchy clouds, fog, and snow. We decided we would start toward the peak, prepared to climb to the top, realizing that we would probably get turned around by the weather and have a wonderful ski down.

At the top of the first major pass, we got a view of Unicorn Peak. It remained in view about long enough for me to take a picture, then promptly disappeared for the remainder of the day.

Unicorn Peak (shortly before disappearing into the clouds for the remainder of the trip)

We hiked up into the fog a bit further before skiing amazing powder for almost 2000 vertical feet back to the tent. The nearly flat ski out for six miles along the closed road was necessary, but unenjoyable.

February 05, 2010

Red Mountain

I finally managed to meet up with another jobless climber/ski bum through the UW Climbing Club, so Craig and I promptly headed for the hills. With a questionable weather forecast but stable avy conditions, we opted for a trip that was relatively close to home and more ski oriented than climb oriented.

The Approach

Booting up the south side of Red Mountain

From the top of Snowqualmie Pass, we skied northwest to Red Mountain. We bootpacked up the last 1,000 vertical feet or so before arriving at the top in more or less of a whiteout. The wind dictated a hasty retreat from the top, so as soon as we could get our skis back on our feet we were off. I was told that a ski descent from the summit proper would be dicey, but it turned out to be pretty straight forward (40 ish degrees at the steepest).

Craig's GPS provided this image of our route

Craig and I both had a great time and I'm sure we'll be engaging in more mid-week tomfoolery in the near future.