Climbing and skiing volcanoes every day might sound like a lot fun but it’s also a lot of work. We’re not just talking about the physical challenges: if you’re a pro like Chris Davenport, there’s planning, marketing, promotion and PR and Chris managed to get it all done. This week, he talked to Freeskier Magazine about his Ring of Fire tour and the Pacific NW. In the article, The Things I’ve Learned: Chris Davenport explains how to execute the best trip of your life, Chris said “Something that came as a surprise was how stoked people were on what we were doing. The outpouring of support from the NW ski community was awesome and we were blessed to have so many skiers come join us on the volcanoes. Along the way, I couldn’t get over how awesome the forests were. Every morning at dawn we seemed to be walking or skinning up through an amazing old-growth forest approaching the mountain. For someone who is not from the PNW the sheer immensity and beauty of the trees is really breathtaking.” Be sure to check out the rest of the article and the video along with it that includes mention of our own young Andrew Eckels as a member of Chris and Jess’ Mt. Baker summit team. Awesome Andrew! And thank you Chris and Jess for sharing the experience.
After watching the video below many times over with my morning coffee and then not needing the coffee once I was 30 seconds into this video, I felt it a MUST to share Ingrid Backstrom’s edit by Matchstick Productions that she just recently shared. You may already know, Ingrid grew up West of the Cascade Crest in Normandy Park, which is just South of the Seattle area. Ingrid gained her amazingly smooth style (in any condition) by racing for Crystal mountain as a youth and even hitting our slopes under the lights up here at the Summit at Snoqualmie sometimes. Go Ingrid… I mean come on up to Alpental next season, Ingrid!!!
The video below is an athlete extra from the 2010/2011 “Attack of La Nina” movie.
On May 18th I rolled up to the Mt. Baker ski area parking lot to hook up with Davenport and McMillan’s Ring of Fire team & catch them on their last summit, which I was hoping would happen on the 19th. I didn’t get up to the Baker lot until late in the day thinking the crew might be taking a rest day with the weather not being that nice (plus Chris was fighting a cold that was peaking the day prior on his 11 hour round trip tour to Rainier’s summit via the Fuher Finger). When I arrived, the team was out on Ptarmigan Ridge (yep that’s what they call a down day- ha ha ha), keeping it easy only climbing the vert of half a volcano and getting a nice look at the super long approach to the Park Headwall. Once back at the Heather Meadows lot, the team decided to head back down SR542 for Glacier Creek to see how far up the road towards the Heliotrope TH they could get the Spyder land yacht. Turns out it wouldn’t have been far, too steep. However, Just before the Glacier Creek turn off, Chris noticed the old defunct RV lot, which was best know for the old Chando restaurant. The owner just happened to be on site and is in the process of selling the R.V. lot , so he told Chris they could plug in for 10 bucks. Super cool. We later were told by a local, who stopped in when he noticed the Spyder rig, the wild antics that were a common occurrence at the old “Porky’s” style roadhouse. All that ended when the Chando mysteriously burnt down in 2000. We had a nice sunny dinner on the grass, hit the sack early. I headed up Glacier Creek to sleep in the Snow Trooper mini rig – plan was to leave the vehicles a mile before the TH between 6-6:30AM. We hit Grouse Creek in the morning shade with a nice steep, not to mention long, frozen granular pitch up to the Coleman Glacier, so I opted to go with boot crampons the entire way up the deviator. Once to the Coleman it was to skinning w/ ski crampons. As I was half way across the long Coleman traverse, I noticed a large group heading up the Roman Wall and sure enough it was the entire crew along with our very own Andrew Eckels getting some summit video clips and his first summit. The Ring of Fire team took a short lunch and dropped down the frozen Roman Wall, then hit hard skiers’ right at the bottom of the wall for some steep skiing. I could hear the roar of their skis as the steel edges blasted over every grain of frozen granular snow, by far the loudest conditions I have ever heard before. They skied down to me hitting all the steeps and fun safe drops possible, then it was off to harvest some great corn back down towards the Shark’s fin. The video below is just a rough cut, we have a bunch of clips yet to drop which also includes the Mt. Rainier day from May 17th.
rough cut below of team Ring of Fire hitting Mt. Baker perfectly!
looking back down the Coleman Glacier. I took some of the clips from the spot I was sitting in this pic (marked w/ red arrow, on the high res shot you can see me) photo by Chris Davenport
Christy Mahon on the summit of Mt. Baker – photo by Chris Davenport
We’re truly sad to see Chris Davenport and Jess McMillan go. Thank you for choosing to spend 14 days ski touring 15 of the Pacific NW’s Ring of Fire volcanoes. Being locals, we’re proud of the terrain the PNW offers and we were delighted that these world champion freeskiers chose to spend so much time exploring it and sharing their experiences with the world. Chris, Jess and their crew have inspired the imagination of many young freeskiers and backcountry enthusiasts with this tour and entertained and informed countless more with continuous tweets, blogs, pix and videos – super hard to do when you’re trying to climb, ski on a schedule with assorted gear in hand, have to deal with limited network access, etc. by the way. Definitely check out their final stats (>78,000 vert feet) and funny anecdotes -yes, that’s our own Andrew Eckels in the Mt. Baker summit photo along with Chris, Jess, Ted and Christy Mahon. Watch as Andrew’s name gets added to the team summit log for Mt. Baker in this latest video. Congratulations again to Chris and Jess for a successful tour and heartfelt thanks for sharing, entertaining and inspiring us all. Us Snow Troopers are going to miss you here. We hope you’ll visit us again soon.
North Face of Roman Nose
I wanted to share this excellent video of a Northern Idaho playground which isn’t to far out of Sandpoint, ID. If you have ever been to Sandpoint in the Winter, you may have noticed (when looking to the North) a 7,260′ stand out, totally snow covered peak, know as Roman Nose. Our friend Bob Legasa and his solid crew headed up for a couple days of great Spring skiing on May 6th & 7th and in doing so kicked out this fun video. Also on a side note, take a look at the topo below and notice the chute just up the ridge line from Roman Nose (blue circle) off of Bottleneck Peak (read circle) that yields almost 2,400′ (we spotted this chute last year as we were in the Beehive Lakes TH parking lot, a rare find in the Selkirks of Idaho, especially with such easy June car access – We were a week or two late last year at the end of June so it is on the hit list in the next two weeks!).
I shot the clip below this past Friday at Heather Meadows and did a small ski there yesterday where I noticed he made it only another 10 feet after I took the video.. It’s deep up there and the skiing is fantastic!
WSDOT is planning to reopen the road to Artist Point this year. Located at the very end of Mount Baker Highway SR 542 at >5,000ft elevation, only part of this 2.7mi long road was cleared last year due to deep snow and cold weather. This past week, the WSDOT snow-scouting team headed up and discovered snow pack reaching 30ft deep along the road up to the upper parking lot and about 50ft deep just before reaching that lot. Sounds like we should have no problem finding good backcountry skiing and riding in that zone this summer. WSDOT will begin clearing in June and hopes to have the road open in July.
Congratulations to Chris Davenport and Jess McMillan on finishing their Ring of Fire tour during which they summited and skied 15 volcanoes in the Pacific NW in 14 days. Chris reports they ascended 77,000 vertical feet! After doing Mt. Rainier in 11hrs., the world champion freeskiers, Chris and Jess headed up to Mt. Baker where the Snow Troopers’ TNT and Andrew Eckels met up with them. Come and meet ski legends Chris and Jess in person as they celebrate the conclusion of their historic reign over the Pacific NW at their WRAP PARTY this Tues., May 22nd from 3-6pm at Sturtevant’s in Bellevue, WA (1100 Bellevue Way). More Wrap Party info below. See you there.
We’re happy to report that WSDOT plans to open Washington’s 5,430′ Chinook Pass next Friday, May 25th in time for the long Memorial Day weekend. The backcountry skiing and riding is going to be incredible when it opens – in fact, it’s a perennial favorite of ours. Check out the photos below from WSDOT – we can’t wait to get out there. Thanks to WSDOT for all the hard work. This mountain pass is located on SR 410 (part of the Chinook Scenic Byway) between Enumclaw and Naches, at the eastern entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park, about five miles east of the Cayuse Pass summit.
Andrew Eckels & crew had the Coleman Deming route on Mt. Baker, WA all to theirselves with sunshine and powder most of the way. Unfortunately 1000 vf short of the summit, the cloud deck rose and they had to retrace their skin track through the white out almost all the way back.
Here’s an impressive data point from Chris Davenport and Jess McMillan’s Ring of Fire tour of the Pacific NW volcanoes: By his estimates, “they have climbed almost 60,000’ on twelve volcanoes in the nine days the tour has been on the road”. Amazing. Even more amazing is that they completed Mt. Adams two days ago and Mt. St. Helens yesterday and this Ring of Fire tour which began on May 4th and concludes on May 21st has 3 more volcanoes remaining including the most massive of them all, Mt. Rainier. Makes us wonder if this tour will one day be remembered as the Ring of TIRED tour? at least that’s the name that comes to mind for us mere mortals. However, after tackling Mt. St. Helens yesterday, the team has today off so we’re sure they’ll be ready and strong for the rest of the tour. Here’s a video from Chris @ Mt. Adams with more details at his blog here. Meanwhile, I took advantage of the clear weather and shot some aerials of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier on May 12th – check them out.