Forum Index > Trip Reports > Unwelcoming conditions at Welcome Pass, 4.5.2009
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Opus
Wannabe



Joined: 04 Mar 2006
Posts: 3549 | TRs
Location: The big rock candy mountain
Opus
Wannabe
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 8:10 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1716 | TRs
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 8:37 am 
Welcome Pass slog
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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!
Gus likes this new trail buddy!
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
Lunch Bunch
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!)
Dog Gone (yawn!)

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

--------------
Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Doppelganger
Armchairing



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 1236 | TRs
Location: Sparkwood & 21
Doppelganger
Armchairing
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 8:43 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Wow, that's pretty scary if you let yourself stop and think about the 'what if's'  eek.gif  I'm glad you guys came to no harm!

And I'm glad you brought back some nice pics of pristine snow.  Nice trip.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Tazz
Member
Member


Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 7911 | TRs

Tazz
Member
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 8:58 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
yukon222
Member
Member


Joined: 12 Mar 2007
Posts: 1812 | TRs

yukon222
Member
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 10:08 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Bloated Chipmunk
Farblondjet



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 2616 | TRs
Location: Margaritaville
Bloated Chipmunk
Farblondjet
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 10:14 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Middle E
no more moustache



Joined: 10 Feb 2008
Posts: 432 | TRs
Location: Seattle, WA
Middle E
no more moustache
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 10:20 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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

--------------
pithy yet insightful signature
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Go Jo
of the lykkens



Joined: 08 Jun 2003
Posts: 2256 | TRs
Location: Around The Bend
Go Jo
of the lykkens
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 10:27 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 4075 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 10:42 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Opus
Wannabe



Joined: 04 Mar 2006
Posts: 3549 | TRs
Location: The big rock candy mountain
Opus
Wannabe
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 10:47 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Gabigabs
Trail Breaker



Joined: 07 Nov 2007
Posts: 844 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Gabigabs
Trail Breaker
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 10:59 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
peltoms
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2006
Posts: 1758 | TRs
Location: Worcester MA
peltoms
Member
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 11:43 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1716 | TRs
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 11:59 am 
Avi
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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.

--------------
Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Cerveza
Member
Member


Joined: 02 Apr 2009
Posts: 79 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Cerveza
Member
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 1:13 pm 
Re: Welcome Pass slog
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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)
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
captain jack
Serving suggestion



Joined: 25 May 2004
Posts: 3340 | TRs
Location: El. 162'
captain jack
Serving suggestion
PostMon Apr 06, 2009 8:10 pm 
Re: Welcome Pass slog
Reply to topic Reply with quote
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.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Unwelcoming conditions at Welcome Pass, 4.5.2009
  Happy Birthday Kathleen, eplanajr, Pepper!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy