Washington state’s winter weather advisory has now been upped to a full on winter weather Warning by the National Weather Service. The western slopes of our central cascades are in for another foot or more at higher elevations. Think we’re joking? Crystal Mountain, WA has already received 22″ in places and they’re opening and running the gondola from 10-1pm tomorrow, Oct. 1st for only the first 75 ticket holders. Buy your ticket here and be prepared for early season conditions -i.e. you might have to hike a bit – here’s what Crystal has to say: “Consider this to be lift-assisted early season backcountry skiing with very early-season conditions. Once you’ve made your sweet glory turns in Green Valley or elsewhere, you’ll have to either hike or skin back to the top in order to download (no other lifts will be running), or hike down to the bottom. The cost is $15, bragging rights included. We’re not going to tell you what kind of equipment to bring as it should be obvious. This is Rocktoberfest. Ski with the weeds and early-season rockstars! …. This is limited to the first  people to purchase a ticket online, limit two tickets per purchaser.” We LOVE it. Live to ski another day – hooray Crystal!!
This past August 24th, kicked off the 15th running of the “Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run”. The runners started this massive test of endurance, just to the East of Snoqualmie Pass, down in the tiny town of Easton. The course started down the “flat” John Wayne trail for a bit, giving the legs a nice transition to the abuse waiting on the first climb up into the Cascades. The trail then leads the athletes towards Snoqualmie Pass (which is the halfway point), offering many nice views along the way. The runners approach Snoqualmie Pass via the Pacific Crest Trail, running by Mirror Lake, under Tinkham and Silver Peaks, through Ollie Meadow and the 2 mile long historic Milwaukee Railroad tunnel (spoooky). So, mentioning the tunnel, the runners don’t actually run through Snoqualmie Pass, they run under it. The light at the end of the tunnel is not tho old electric train coming, but the little village of Hyak, WA which puts the athletes at just over the 50 mile mark. I guess there is only light at the end of the tunnel for the first half of the pack, because shortly after the leaders rolled through Hyak the sun dropped. At this time, I was now back at the Hyak home base, and had a shower, dinner, and wine waiting just 500 yards away, so I called it a day.
The video below is the “teaser” version of the CCC 100
After a good night of rest, unlike the athletes, I was off the next morning for the Kachess Ridge zone to capture more video. I happen to like the second half of the run for the best views. One section that didn’t offer too many views, because it was run overnight, is located from Hyak heading over Keechelus Ride, around the North End of Kachess Lake (little Kachess) on the “Trail from Hell” (dubbed this because after running alongside the lake you gain and loose a crap load of vert, only to end up at the same elevation at the end of the lake- mentally and physically draining). As the sun rises so does the course, climbing out the Kachess Lake zone, up to and across the stunning Kachess Ridge (stopping at the Thorpe Mountain Fire Lookout on the way). Kachess Ridge is in the 80 mile zone and is a steep tough hike for day hikers, so probably no need to mention how amazed I was to see the ultra athletes moving and grooving through this epic zone. Halfway across Kachess Ridge is the French Cabin aid station, another beautiful area that sits in a saddle just under the shadows of the French Cabin Peaks, with Mt. Rainier to the South and Mt. Stuart to the North. From this point the trail winds down through some epic meadows, dropping into Silver Creek. After the Silver Creek aid station the runners have ONLY a few miles of flat back to Easton. 100 grueling miles later, the finish line and fans were waiting at the Easton Fire Department. HARD CORE!
The video below is the “Full Length” version of the CCC 100
It’s going to start looking a lot like winter this week. The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for the West slopes of Washington’s Central Cascades and mountain passes – the advisory is in effect until Tues. morning and is calling for up to 8″ of snow by Monday afternoon and a possible total of 22″ by Monday night when snow levels are expected to drop to 4500ft. Say it’s S(n)ooooo! Keep praying for September snow!
This past Thursday, the 26th of Sept., I wanted to get a little of the 5 or so inches we have been hearing so much about in recent days. Even the national news has been hyping all recent Western US snowfall, so I headed up to get a taste of the first fresh snow I have seen since late Spring. I was pumped for a few reasons on this September ski day (what was supposed to be a halfway sunny day) 1st – new snow, 2nd-meeting up with an awesome crew, and 3rd- linking up 120 months of skiing in the Cascade Mountains! The video below is a short recap of our mostly foggy, then snowy day, which yielded the best skiing since…. Maybe, June??? Thanks for an AWESOME day Tara, Carl, Jeff, Zack, Chris, Yo Yo, James, John, and David!!!
Just made it back from linking up 120 months of skiing in the Cascades. Today’s trip was up to Mt. Rainier’s Paradise Glacier, this is where we would seek out some fresh snow vs. the nasty sun cups we have dealt with this super sunny Summer. I am currently chopping up today’s video clips but in the mean time, I wanted to share the clip below of our bro, Zack Jessel, enjoying the goods..
It may be the first week of fall but in some parts of the nation, the wintry weather has already begun. Early season snow just fell on Squaw Valley, Steamboat and parts of the Northeast. So we’re hoping the Pacific NW isn’t far behind. In fact, snow levels in Washington’s Western Cascades are forecast to drop to 5000ft with possible accumulations this week. But looks like Montana’s got us beat with a winter storm watch for its Southwest & central regions above 5000ft: they could get 6-12″ in their mountain passes and 3-6″ in their valley locations. Hopefully, this cold weather sticks and we get another good one like past years – if you aren’t already, here’s a video from last season’s opening week to get you thinking and praying for snow.
Tara and Carl Simpson just made it back from their annual backpacking adventures to catch the first filling of the sun cups… That’s the first filling of fresh snow into the nasty dirty sun cups. This past month, for our August turns, was the worst I can remember since the Summer of 2009. However, I was very happy to hear from Carl last night that the new dusting of snow made a HUGE difference in the ski. Check out their day from this past Thursday the 19th. I’m in hopes that the current system rolling thru will squeeze out a little more snow up high for some turns early next week.
Not much to say about this one, except CLICK PLAY! If this one doesn’t give you the itch, then you must not be a snowrider. If you aren’t a snowrider, well after seeing this vid there’s a good chance you will become an addict too, this upcoming Winter!
This past Sunday, Sept. 8th, I was trail running the Pacific Crest Trail, North of Snoqualmie Pass. On my way out, I heard a helicopter come up the Pass, then sounded to come up the Alpental Valley. Right away, I heard the heli make some kind of pass then back to an idle, I then knew something was not right. However, in less than 10 mins or so, the Heli flew away. I finished my run out, went home, then the next morning I checked out the amazing King Co. Sheriff’s Search and Rescue POV video (that is attached below). The video is just over 5 minutes long, but for the crew it must have seemed like hours… Check it out, but FIRST you need to read our bro’s eye witness story. I had no idea the story continued after the heli flew away, but it did and doing so long into the night/morning. I’m very thankful for all of the first responders out there that are truly skilled and risk their lives every time they are called to duty.
The first hand write up below is from our friend and Alpental loc, Adam Cooper. (photos courtesy Seattle Mountain Rescue)
September 8th, a beautiful day threatened to become a nightmare. We witnessed the stunning possibilities of what happens when smart, dedicated, and brave people cooperate. Shortly after 11:30, 1300′ up the sheer face of Guye Peak, the lead climber in a party of six fell and shattered both his ankles and injured his back. The party was fortunate to be close to a long, cave-like ledge cut into the tall and sheer face of the cliff. After taking refuge there, they contacted King County Search and Rescue. KCSAR showed up and began to assemble an incredible team in the field to cover all kinds of contingencies and rescue routes. Their professionalism and numbers were impressive. Meanwhile, four of the six climbers began their descent down the mountain. The injured climber and one friend stayed behind to await rescue, no longer in the sun but in the lengthening shadows. Six hours after their distress call, a Sheriff’s helicopter came into the valley and surveyed the situation up close. After several circles, the pilot brought the helicopter dangerously close to the sheer cliff wall and a rescuer began descending on a line to the stranded climbers. For what seemed an eternity, the hanging rescuer, the helicopter pilot and the rescuer controlling the rope in the helicopter engaged in a subtle and deadly dance bring the dangling rescuer in closer and closer, swinging painfully slow circles towards the climbers. One near miss occurred as everyone on the ground gasped, but they could not hold on. The next circle brought them close enough to take hold of each other, and the rescuer was pulled onto the recessed ledge. A minute later, the rescuer swung off the cliff with the injured man, and the helicopter slowly pulled away and began to retract the two back up to the chopper as the pilot flew back out of the valley. (Will post link to video from helicopter) This was absolutely stunning to witness, especially as we and a few neighbors were the only ones anywhere close to the KCSAR operations. The media was wonderfully absent, and so the bravery of every person there was not bravado, their determined looks and focus was not for show. They were the A-Team, exactly who you would want to show up if you were ever in deep trouble in the deep woods. I feel privileged to have been given a glimpse of their mettle and their ability, and I feel proud knowing we have citizens and law professionals like them in our midst. But this was only the beginning, as many more heroic efforts were yet to be made. One climber was now stranded on the cliff face alone, as we heard the pilot deemed it too dangerous to try again.
photo above and below courtesy Seattle Mountain Rescue
Now they needed to send in rescuers from above to rappel down 900 feet to him, and then together the final 1300′ down to the bottom. And sunset was minutes away. Six hours later in the darkness, we watched the stranded climber’s headlamp look upwards as another headlamp descended towards him. They connected, and he finally at least had company in his ordeal. (Certainly, he is a true friend and lives the good mountain code and I would buy him a beer if I meet him.) But it was another six hours until everyone was off the mountain. I understand over 45 people from KCSAR took part and dedicated their Sunday, their sleep, probably a vacation day, and risked their lives when the call came in. Would I answer that call? Yesterday made me want to find out… I send a big thank you to all the good people from KCSAR we met and watched at work out there. Thank you for being gracious to my kids and I hope we stayed out of your way. That was an eventful day and night at our firepit, to say the least.
POV video below
This past labor day weekend, we met up with Jackson Blackburn in Glacier, WA for a relaxing walk along the Nooksack River to decide on our target for the morning of 8/31. Knowing we had great success with Hadley Peak last Summer-Fall, we decided to shoot for Cougar Divide and make the epic walk to Hadley Glacier. We left our campsite around 7AM and started the super long 16 mile fs road drive to Cougar Divide in Jackson’s low profile car (not recommended). As we made our way walking along Cougar divide, our ski line finally came into view, we clearly could see the main chute had melted out about half way down (forcing a nasty, rocky down climb for a couple hundred feet to link the ski). The lack of rain (and cloud cover) in the month of July and a good part of August, has put a serious beating on our late season “easier access” glaciers/snowfields. I’m hoping for a good dose of snow on the volcanos to cover up the nasty sun cups seen in the vid below.