Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cascade Mountains

Last Thursday I left Missoula and headed for Mount Rainer. The plan was to meet up with my good friends Brandon and his wife Katie to climb and then ski Rainer. After a little confusion trying to rendezvous, we ended up camping on the south side of the mountain.

A creek in the campground

Colcchuck Lake and glacier
Friday morning brought rain and with it, a bad forecast. Brandon, Katie, and I drove to the White river ranger station to meet a few others from Kalispel and to figure out a game plan. The forecast was for more precipitation and cold temps. After about an hour of himming and hawing, we decided just to go for a day ski on Rainer. Once at the trail head though, the rain was worse and Brandon, Katie, and I decided to tuck tail and head for better weather. The others stayed to ski.


Boot packing

The three of us drove to Leavenworth where we knew the skies would be blue and temps warm. We planned on climbing the Snow creek wall, but when we got to the trail head, there were closure signs due to peregrine falcon nesting. Skunked again! So we headed into town and waited for another climb to be in the shade before returning to the canyon. We finished the day climbing a nice short four pitch route followed with a great dinner.

Brandon and Katie

Colchuck summit

The next day we decided to hike into Colchuck lake and ski the Colchuck glacier. It is a nice 2,000 foot couloir between Dragon's Tail and Colchuck peak. The temps were great and travel went fast. Brandon is on the US Worlds ski mountaineering team and Katie is in incredible shape herself, so I did my best to keep up. It took us about 4 and a half hours car to summit (5 miles and 6,000ft vertical).
Representing Montana (western flare)

Brandon descending

Katie skiing to Brandon

The ski descent was a blast. The snow was firm and sun-cupped, but still very fun. We took turns leap-frogging our way down taking pictures and enjoying our position. We finished the ski and headed down the trail making it back to town in time for dinner!

The local at Colchuck

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