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.
This video I want to share with everyone is a partial recap of Corky Still’s 2012/2013 season in AK. Living out of Anchorage, Corky has many options for fresh, BIG lines that can be found right at his doorstep in the Front Range (which boarders Anchorage) or just to the South where the endless terrain around the Turnagain Arm can be found via heli, sled, or good old skin access. I have made some turns with Corky, but only with in a snow lacking, hard packed CO ski area (on two different occasions). This is where I learned Corky is one bad ass alpine skier, who had a full ride as a member of University of Nevada, Reno Nordic Ski Team, and… oh yeah, a world class Telemark skier too. In 2009, Corky tested out his skills in a few of the World Telemark Free-Skiing tours… After 3 events he ended up taking a 3rd place in the US Extreme Free-Skiing Telemark Championships; Crested Butte, CO, 2nd place in the Sierra Nevada Telemark Free-Skiing Championships; Alpine Meadows, CA, and 1st place in the 2009 World Telemark Free-Skiing Championships; Alyeska, AK. If you have the powder snow itch and don’t want it to get any worse… Don’t watch this one ’cause you’ll surely break out in hives, with your only cure found right now South of the Equator. BE SURE to click play for some epic AK dayz!!! Thanks Corky, for the awesome share!
Our friends at EpicQuest (Chris Owens included) will be appearing in a new original series this fall on Outside TV. The series, produced by One Eyed Bird Productions, is aptly named “Epic Quest”. The story-driven docudrama will feature the guides, athletes and operations of the renowned adventure travel company created 25 years ago by a handful of elite outdoorsmen to provide thrill-seekers incomparable trips into the most remote and untamable places on Earth. We know EpicQuest through its heli-ski companies, Chugach Powder Guides and Sun Valley Heli Ski Guides. But EpicQuest also guides outdoor adventures through the African savannah, the deepest reaches of the Amazon, the mountains that made for Mordor in “The Lord of the Rings,” and pretty much any other dream fulfilling destination one can imagine.
Originating from EpicQuest’s Alaskan headquarters, the six new hour episodes link many simultaneous expeditions but it’s the adventures on snow that we can’t wait to see – along with our world class athlete friends, Reggie & Zach Crist, Chris Davenport, Greg Harms, Jess McMillan, as well as Lynsey Dyer. Look for “Epic Quest” this October on Outside Television and follow our friends into the world’s most awe-inspiring locations. We have the feeling that 6 episodes won’t be enough to cover all the adventures EpicQuest has in store for us.
Everyone’s starting to get amped up for the Winter and thinking POW, so I think it’s time to start sharing the goods from last year (as I think about where to get my August ski in this Saturday). The edit below was sent over by Jackson Blackburn, who rides for our bro’s over at Live 2 Ride Snowboards. Jackson, believe it or not, is somewhat new to the sport of riding snow, let alone waist deep POW. Back at the start of the 2011/2012 season, Jackson, left his home state of Connecticut for Washington, where he rode powder for the first time. Jackson has been hooked ever since that fine powder day. So hooked, he lives out of his 96 Subaru sedan all Winter long traveling up and down the Cascades chasing pow and good times.
Jackson Blackburn – left @ Mt. Rainier/ photo credit Brianna Stoutenburgh, and below Jackson @ Alpental’s May 4th, 2013 backcountry booter fest, going HUGE!!!/ photo credit Mckenzie Smedley
This past August 6th, Tara and Carl Simpson, along with Silas Wild and Zack Jessel headed up to Mt. Rainier to keep their skiing alive year round. The time lapse at the beginning of the sun cup fest is pretty sweet and the music fits for the aggressive conditions. I have been too busy this past month and only have ’til Saturday to get my ski day in for August. If I manage to find a patch of snow somewhere, I will have linked up 119 months of consecutive skiing in the Cascades.
This weekend, the Pacific Northwest finally cooled down and received a bit of moisture. It was a welcome relief after experiencing such a long stretch of hot, dry weather. NOAA reports that the entire western U.S. was warmer than average this summer, with Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah each having a top ten warm month. Oregon also had its driest July on record and here in Washington, we enjoyed our eighth driest July.
“For 2013–2014, we are forecasting a winter that will experience below average temperatures for about two-thirds of the nation. A large area of below-normal temperatures will predominate from roughly east of the Continental Divide to the Appalachians, north and east through New England…. Only for the Far West and the Southeast will there be a semblance of winter temperatures averaging close to normal, but only a few areas will enjoy many days where temperatures will average above normal…. Precipitation-wise, the Southern Plains, Midwest, and Southeast will see above-normal conditions, while the rest of the country will average near normal.” Their outlook for the Pacific Northwest is calling for drier than normal conditions. However, considering we get more snow than most in a normal winter, we’re hopeful that it’ll be business as usual. The outlook is calling for heavy winter weather across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic the first 10 days of February and storms from coast to coast in mid-March. We can’t wait!!
I spent 2 days this past week (Aug. 8-9, 2013) hiking Mt. Rainier from both the Sunrise and Paradise Visitor Centers. We had a loooong, hot dry spell in the Pacific NW (that just broke today with rain, still warm temps though) so the lower half of Mt. Rainier is snow free now. All trails out of Sunrise are dry (see pix below) as are the trails out of Glacier Basin. See below – dry all the way up to Inter Glacier until the last short pitch to Steamboat Prow (with snow that’s not worth getting after). Trails out of Paradise are also dry with just 3-4 short patches of snow (i.e. not skinnable) until reaching the Muir Snowfield above Pebble Creek. Sun cups were sizable on the snowfield but were soft by early afternoon given the hot sun (temps in the low-mid 70s). Didn’t see any skiers/boarders on this trip.