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Opus
Wannabe



Joined: 04 Mar 2006
Posts: 3668 | TRs | Pics
Location: The big rock candy mountain
Opus
Wannabe
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 9:10 am 
This sun is just too tempting.  I had to get out for a second trip this weekend so off we went to the north Cascades!  At first the trip was just myself and Beth but we were later joined by Suzanne, Jim, and Barry.  Little did anyone, including myself, know what we were in for.  We'd considered trying the ridge run between Welcome and Excelsior but with all the new snow and warm temperatures we quickly abandoned that idea.  We also found the road to Welcome trailhead completely snowed in and had to park across the highway in a pull out.

Already the snow was soft at 9:45 as we started up.  Slow going just on the road walk but thankfully it wasn't too steep.  Before long we found our first obstacle: the creek / avalanche chute.  We spaced ourselves out and crossed it quickly without incident.  The next obstacle?  Just finding the route after the road ended!  Nobody had been up here for awhile so we had no tracks to follow.  The trailhead log was snow covered and the last visitor was back in early February.  My GPS aided a little but I only had spotty satellite coverage in the trees.  We pushed upwards in the hopes of finding some sign of trail.  As luck would have it we popped out right on a large switchback at the Wilderness marker sign.  You'd think we knew what were doing!

Now on trail, and aided by some pink ribbons, we felt we were on track.  The biggest obstacle now?  Absolutely horrible snow conditions!  Several feet of heavy, wet, unconsolidated goop.  Each step we'd go knee deep and many times just slide backwards.  Just lifting snowshoes out of each step, covered with this muck, was the most tiring part.  We couldn't even make enough speed to run out of breath, just burn out of muscle energy.  Even with the five of us trading trailbreak duty often progress was agonizingly slow.  Poor Gusto was just floundering outside our packed trail.  Absolutely the worst trailbreaking snow I've ever been through.  We kept at it though pushing onwards and upwards before finally arriving at the pass 4 hours 15 minutes later!

We were pretty much at our turn around time now so all we could do was climb up onto the eastern ridge for a lunch spot with a view.  And the views did not disappoint!  Baker, Shuksan, Sefrit, Tomyhoi - everything.  Temperatures were very pleasant with only a light wind.  It was very tempting to continue on the ridge but we were out of time and had a slog of a descent to consider.  Heartbreakingly short stay considering the effort we put in to get here.  Everyone pushed to the limit but nobody gave up, especially Beth who showed me up by bringing her full digital SLR while I wimped out and brought my tiny pocket camera.  On only her second snowshoe trip no less!  cool.gif

The descent was slippery but much more pleasant.  We could sort of float down in the very soft goopy snow.  We made it down to the road in about an hour.  But we had one last big surprise waiting ahead!  As we approached the chute things looked different.  The whole thing had avalanched while we were on top!  Giant balls of snow had scoured it down to bare dirt and scraped the sides clean.  It's amazing we didn't hear it.  This wasn't a dig-me-out-after-burial avalanche, it was the kind that would pummel one to bits.  Thankfully we missed it but we still had to cross to get home.  The slopes high above were not in the sun so we felt reasonably sure it wouldn't slide again.  Still we crossed in groups and didn't hang around long.

BEFORE
BEFORE
AFTER
AFTER

Now we just had a road slog in soft snow back to the cars.  Slow walking but thankfully easier than the steep ascent earlier.  Never were we so happy to see comfortable chairs!  Sore muscles and knees gave no protest as we finally sat down.  We bid goodbye to Jim, Barry, and Suzanne before having a nice dinner at Grahams and arriving back in Seattle after sunset.  A full exploitation of the daylight!

Stats for the day:
Time: 7 hours 11 min
Miles: 5.76 miles
Elevation: 3800 ft gain
Miles/hour: 0.8
Gain/hour (ascent): 894 ft/hr

From my GPS tracks it looks like the steepest continuous stretch was from the end of the old road to the summit, gaining 2600 ft in just over a mile.  eek.gif

Click here for all the photos.

GPS Tracks
GPS Tracks
Steep
Steep
More steepness
More steepness
Welcome pass
Welcome pass
Up the ridge
Up the ridge
Beth and Jim
Beth and Jim
Shuksan
Shuksan
Baker
Baker
Me
Me
Beth
Beth
Tiny trees
Tiny trees
Steep downhill
Steep downhill

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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1759 | TRs | Pics
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 9:37 am 
Welcome Pass slog
David - you weren't kidding when you said this was a real slog!   eek.gif  The last time I did Welcome - we made it to the Pass in 1 1/2 hours!  A little different yesterday.  A few pics to add - but the main addition is the commentary on the avalanche scene - it was humbling!  agree.gif  There were boulder-sized chunks that came down that chute.  Still - it was a lovely day to be out - in short-sleeves, no less!  If anyone does decide to head up that way, at least they have a nice trench in place.   up.gif  winksmile.gif 
Pull-out across from the start of the Welcome Pass trail
Pull-out across from the start of the Welcome Pass trail
First opening for some views
First opening for some views
Leaving the road for the summer trail
Leaving the road for the summer trail
Sign in please . . . .
Sign in please . . . .
Last one to sign in was Feb. 15
Last one to sign in was Feb. 15
Cruddy, heavy, wet snow
Cruddy, heavy, wet snow
We find the summer trail
We find the summer trail
Name that thing . . . a light? an electric bird feeder?
Name that thing . . . a light? an electric bird feeder?
Gus likes this new trail buddy! Another one of his victims
Gus likes this new trail buddy! Another one of his victims
Dog-high snow
Dog-high snow
Up and up and up . . .
Up and up and up . . .
Looking west in the direction of Excelsior
Looking west in the direction of Excelsior
Undisturbed snow at the Pass
Undisturbed snow at the Pass
Heading up the bump
Heading up the bump
Almost to the top
Almost to the top
Barry on the Bump with Baker as a backdrop
Barry on the Bump with Baker as a backdrop
Lunch Bunch - one of Gus' favorite parts of a hike! Welcome Pass - 04-05-09
Lunch Bunch - one of Gus' favorite parts of a hike! Welcome Pass - 04-05-09
Lunch with a view!
Lunch with a view!
Gus and the Driver on the Bump above the Pass
Gus and the Driver on the Bump above the Pass
Tracks in the snow
Tracks in the snow

And then - the shocker for the day . . .
What happened to the trail?
What happened to the trail?
Looking uphil to the head of the avalanche
Looking uphil to the head of the avalanche
Looking downhill at the chute
Looking downhill at the chute
Barry climbing up the debris
Barry climbing up the debris
Barry and Gus crossing the debris
Barry and Gus crossing the debris
Barry, Beth and David crossing avalanche chute
Barry, Beth and David crossing avalanche chute

No April Fool's joke on this one!
No joke this time!
No joke this time!

Eneventful return to the cars. 
Crossing the berm back to the cars
Crossing the berm back to the cars
Dog Gone (yawn!) - at the end of another hike . . .
Dog Gone (yawn!) - at the end of another hike . . .

Sure hope we didn't scare Beth away with our crazy adventure!  embarassedlaugh.gif

--------------
Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
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Tazz
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Tazz
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PostMon Apr 06, 2009 9:58 am 
Wow glad you guys are ok! It reminds me of the trip up morning star. similar conditions and same thing happened to us. Avi took our our tracks up through the bowl.  then we had some glassade/avi isusse too.  doh.gif  wheew!

good report! Thats quite a trip and quite an avi!

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yukon222
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yukon222
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PostMon Apr 06, 2009 11:08 am 
So glad you guys made in and out of the mountains.   up.gif Spooky stuff to see the recent avi slide area that you know you have to recross to get back out.

It sure was wet gunky slop this past weekend.  Didn't matter where you went - deep into the North Cascades or up by Stevens Pass.  Thick wet slop to work with.

Opus - great before/after scene of the avi chute.

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Bloated Chipmunk
Cock Rock Searcher



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 2902 | TRs | Pics
Location: Margaritaville
Bloated Chipmunk
Cock Rock Searcher
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 11:14 am 
eek.gif  Whoa, that's scary thinking about how y'all could've been caught in that avalanche.  Glad everyone managed to miss it.  up.gif

--------------
Home is where the hiking is. 

"Peaks that have come and gone four times should halt a man in his steps." -- William O. Douglas

A balanced diet is a margarita in each hand.
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Middle E
no more moustache



Joined: 10 Feb 2008
Posts: 432 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle, WA
Middle E
no more moustache
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 11:20 am 
I have to agree with the prior observations:

1) most difficult trail-breaking conditions I've ever encountered on snowshoes, at least for the poor sucker in front. frown.gif
Not so bad for anyone behind! wink.gif
2) the views from the top were fantastic  up.gif  up.gif
3) the up close and too personal view of the avalanche was awesome and sobering  shakehead.gif

A few more pictures to add...
Suzanne and Gusto at the Pass
Suzanne and Gusto at the Pass
Unnamed bumps from Welcome Pass
Unnamed bumps from Welcome Pass
Mt. Shuksan from Welcome Pass
Mt. Shuksan from Welcome Pass
Mt. Baker from Welcome Pass
Mt. Baker from Welcome Pass
Tomyhoi from Welcome Pass
Tomyhoi from Welcome Pass
Ridgeline toward Excelsior
Ridgeline toward Excelsior
Suzanne crossing the chute
Suzanne crossing the chute

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pithy yet insightful signature
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Go Jo
of the lykkens



Joined: 08 Jun 2003
Posts: 2248 | TRs | Pics
Location: Around The Bend
Go Jo
of the lykkens
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 11:27 am 
It's true that Welcome doesn't mess around in the elevation gain department,
I can't imagine adding gloppy glue snow to the ascent. Well done!
It is an awfully pretty payoff view & the sunshine at the top must have been an added bonus.
Thanks for the post avi pictures, nature is really moving things around this Spring.

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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 11:42 am 
A couple thoughts on the avalanche.

First, itís a good reminder of how heavy and destructive wet snow can be.  With rapidly warming temperatures right now (or any time), any slide can be very dangerous.

Second, just so no one will think the group was being unduly careless, this particular spot is a relatively controllable risk.  Itís the runout gully that channels snow from slopes high above.  Thus, one must be aware that the snow up above may be much deeper and looser than down low where the trail crosses.  However, because the channel is only about 150 feet wide and one can see a fair distance above, one can cross it with due caution to move quickly and keep your eyes and ears open for any sight or sound of a slide.  Iím not saying itís risk free; just saying itís possible to deal with it in a properly cautious way.

--------------
ďAs beacons mountains burned at evening.Ē J.R.R. Tolkien
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Opus
Wannabe



Joined: 04 Mar 2006
Posts: 3668 | TRs | Pics
Location: The big rock candy mountain
Opus
Wannabe
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 11:47 am 
Ditto to what Matt wrote.  The gully was quick to cross and we made the trip in pairs just in case.  Even so looking at the scale of that slide was very intimidating.

The slide stopped maybe a hundred feet below where the trail crosses.  Does anyone know if it's possible to bushwhack straight up/down along the west side of this gully from a lower point on the road?

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Gabigabs
Trail Breaker



Joined: 07 Nov 2007
Posts: 841 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle
Gabigabs
Trail Breaker
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 11:59 am 
Wonderful day for Welcome Pass, even though the snow conditions were such a pain. Glad you made it to the top.

Great pictures and nice job on the before and after avy shot.

--------------
Life is simple... Eat, Sleep, Hike!
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peltoms
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Location: Worcester MA
peltoms
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PostMon Apr 06, 2009 12:43 pm 
wow that is what I call mother nature sending a shot across the bows, great shots of the avy debris and chute, what elevation and orientation was the trigger point?

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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1759 | TRs | Pics
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 12:59 pm 
Avi
peltoms wrote:
wow that is what I call mother nature sending a shot across the bows, great shots of the avy debris and chute, what elevation and orientation was the trigger point?

South facing - probably around 3700' at the starting point. s.d.

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Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
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Cerveza
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Joined: 02 Apr 2009
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Location: Seattle
Cerveza
Member
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 2:13 pm 
Re: Welcome Pass slog
Sadie's Driver wrote:

Sure hope we didn't scare Beth away with our crazy adventure!† embarassedlaugh.gif

not a chance.  biggrin.gif   although, for only being my second snow shoeing trip, i'm glad i made it to the hardest one you guys have climbed!  geez, what luck!

but really, this was a great trip with awesome views and a great workout.  thanks david, suzanne, barry and jim for letting me tag along.   smile.gif

Pictures here (I can't figure out how to post them)

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captain jack
Serving suggestion



Joined: 25 May 2004
Posts: 3388 | TRs | Pics
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captain jack
Serving suggestion
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 9:10 pm 
Re: Welcome Pass slog
Sadie's Driver wrote:
Name that thing . . . a light? an electric bird feeder?
Name that thing . . . a light? an electric bird feeder?

Just a guess.
You guys were less than 5 miles from Canada. The border patrol has vibration sensors placed along the border to detect anything moving across from one side to the other. That looks like a satellite uplink antenna, probably connected to a buried sensor nearby.

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JimK
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Posts: 5570 | TRs | Pics
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JimK
Member
PostTue Apr 07, 2009 2:28 pm 
My turn.


A sunny day after a week of big snow storms in the mountains. Avalanche danger was high. David and his friend Beth were heading up north to Welcome Pass and Suzanne, Barry, and I joined them. We were out of Seattle by 7:00 am. It's along drive to the north side of Mt. Baker. We met David and Beth at the Glacier Ranger Station just after 9:00 am. From there we drove east missing the start just as we did on our February 2006 snowshoe trip. That was a beautiful day and I was very ready to come back. The start is a plowed pull out on the south side of the road about 1/3 mile before the DOT maintenance facility. We turned around at the DOT facility and parked at 2000'. By 9:45 we were on our way.

Getting Ready To Go
Getting Ready To Go

The road to the summer trailhead was buried and hard to see from the road. Two steps was enough to know we needed snowshoes immediately. Many feet of snow fell the preceding week and it was deep, wet, and heavy. We sank in even though it was shady and cold. We walked the road to the summer trailhead and found the trail log. The last signing was in mid February. There were no snowshoe or ski tracks. I hoped we would have some tracks to help with route finding.

Soft Snow
Soft Snow
Shuksan View
Shuksan View

The summer trail begins as an old road. It's wide and climbs gently. Soon we came to the creek crossing. This is the crux of the trip in the winter. The creek gully drains the slopes high above. It's only about 100' across but in high avalanche danger times it can be dangerous. It was early and still pretty cold. We had no trouble getting across. A little more road walking and the route was suddenly filled with small trees. We could not see any trail heading uphill but chose to start climbing. Up to the end of the road we gained 900'. We still had 2300' to go in less than 1 1/2 miles.

Creek Pre Avalanche
Creek Pre Avalanche

The snow was not too bad on the road section. It was much worse as we climbed. Sink and slide back. Lift your leg high to get above the snow, sink, and slide. It was not possible to make much progress without constant lead changes. A few hundred feet up from the road we ran into the trail. Just to the left was the Wilderness Boundary sign. We were able to follow the trail for awhile but lost it again. The slope began to follow a defined ridge. It went from steep to very steep sections followed by just steep again. With the soft snow a fall would not have gone too far.

Starting Uphill
Starting Uphill
Wilderness Boundary
Wilderness Boundary

Time moved rapidly but our progress was glacial. The whole climb was in forest. This and the ridge minimized avalanche danger but afforded almost no views. At one point a few hundred feet below the ridge a small open spot afforded some views. That last few hundred feet was the worst. The snow was deeper and even less consolidated. Going straight up was nearly impossible in places and we mostly made short switchbacks. Even with blue sky showing through to highlight the ridge top just above us we had to slowly slog on. At long last we topped out just above 5200' Welcome Pass. It took us 4 1/4 hours to climb just over 3 miles. More than half that distance was on a smooth road. We were all beat.

Mt. Sefrit View
Mt. Sefrit View
Suzanne Near Ridge
Suzanne Near Ridge
View Northwest Of Pass
View Northwest Of Pass

We could see the pass and the ridge to the west. We could see north to Tomyhoi and peaks in Canada. We could not see to the south because of the wall of trees. We had to keep going to get the really good views. The last climb was short and steep. As we climbed Baker and Shuksan came into view. There was now a layer of high clouds turning the sky a light white. It did take away contrast to the mountains. Barry and Suzanne led the way up and David, Beth, and I followed. At the top of the bump on the ridge the views really improve. We added Goat, Ruth, Sefrit and others to the field of view.

Last Push To Ridge
Last Push To Ridge
High Point Ahead
High Point Ahead
Welcome Pass Below
Welcome Pass Below
Mt. Shuksan
Mt. Shuksan
Mt. Baker
Mt. Baker
Goat Mountain
Goat Mountain
Tomyhoi Peak
Tomyhoi Peak
Northwest Again
Northwest Again
Heading Back To Pass
Heading Back To Pass

We sat and ate and photographed the mountains all around us. On my earlier trip we continued up the ridge to the high point above Yellow Aster tarns. This time we lacked enough time. It was already past 2:30 when we headed down. The drop to the pass was fast and easy. The slog down the slope was a little slick and the snow broke away on some steps but it was much easier than the ascent. Barry and Suzanne were down to the road in just under one hour. Within 1:15 we were all down to there. Now it was just a road slog back to the car. Or so we thought.

David Descending
David Descending

Barry and Suzanne took off again and I didn't expect to see them until at least the summer trailhead. As I approached the creek I caught up with them. Wait a minute, something did not look right. Hoy cow! The whole creek gully avalanched while we were up high. All the way up and all the way down! It was not a snow slide. It was a violent blow out. Hundreds of icy balls up to 3 or 4 feet in diameter filled the gully. The avalanche scoured much of the snow out. We saw bare ground where there had been 5 feet of snow. The ice ball pile formed a wall we had to climb over. It was scary to imagine the power of that avalanche. Scary and more than a little sobering.

Creek Post Avalanche
Creek Post Avalanche
Barry Crossing Rubble
Barry Crossing Rubble
Looking Up Gully
Looking Up Gully
Looking Down Gully
Looking Down Gully
David & Beth Crossing
David & Beth Crossing

On the positive side, the avalanche originated high on the slope. One could cross it quickly if it was noticed mid way across. We also crossed early before the afternoon sun weakened the snow even more. We crossed quickly though it did not look like much snow was left above. After that it was just a snow slog back to the cars. We were all tired and glad to be back. It was a challenging day with some of the most difficult snow conditions I have snowshoed in. The views were every bit as good as I remembered. The trip down was easier than I had feared. It was an awful lot of work but it did make for quite and adventure.

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Hiking Northwest
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