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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
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williswall
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seeking tailwind
PostTue Apr 01, 2014 12:06 am 
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So I just picked up some Randonee gear and was itching to try it out, as I've only done lift skiing to this point. What better break- in trip then to skin in from Ipsut Creek and hit either Liberty Ridge or the Willis Wall, depending on how the conditions looked? I'm trying to get myself in shape so I left the car at home and biked the 67 miles to the park on my mountain bike for a warmup. I haven't purchased a ski specific pack yet but found I could A frame my skis on an older GG pack no problem. I  just biked in my touring boots and left all that avy gear at home to save weight; I was solo anyway. I thought about bringing a camera but I've got enough photos going up and down the Willis Wall so just left it home to save weight.

I was able to bike all the way to Ipsut Creek with just a few snow patches and stashed my bike in the woods without securing it; who would steal a bike there anyway? Time was a wasting so I had a quick snack and headed out, all I packed for food was easy cheese, some Ritz crackers and a few ketchup packets. Figured I wouldn't need much as this had to be a quick trip and I wanted to be home before dark. I found it easier to just carry my boots on the pack along with the skis until well after I crossed the Carbon, running in my sandals. Then it was time to try this skinning stuff, so I slapped those puppies on and got to it, soon getting into the swing for fast going which put me on Curtis Ridge overlooking the Carbon glacier at about 11 AM. Navigation was no problem as anticipated, there's really only one way to go and I had left my GPS and maps home to save weight. Luckily there were breaks in the clouds, enough for me to check out possible routes and decided that the Willis Wall looked nice right down the middle to the right side (I think someone named this route, "thermal underwear" or something, but I personally think that's a bit pretentious). I didn't plan on climbing over the ice cap so knew it would be a short trip once I got up just beneath it. Thankfully it wasn't especially cold and was in fact warming up steadily. I hate climbing the Willis Wall when it's cold.

Off I went, over the early season filled- in Carbon glacier after skiing down this side of Curtis Ridge and was able to make a straight beeline for the base of the Wall (I sometimes chuckle at this  "Wall" name, it's only about 45 degrees on average!). To save weight I didn't pack crampons or ski crampons so allowed some extra time to V my way up the wall, taking the skins off as they just seemed to get in the way as it was fairly steep (I wouldn't call it a walkup). More weight savings had me leave my ice axe home and I haven't had a chance to pick up a whippet yet but 40-45 degree slopes barely qualify as an expert run. Between Ving and side stepping and just kind of getting into a rhythm, I made the top of the "Wall" in decent time and locked down for the descent after a nice rest break under the ice cap, one of my favorite places to linger and take in the views. I planned on just following my tracks up as, amazingly, there was no sign of anyone else taking advantage of balmy weather anywhere to be seen. All the more solitude for me so I kicked off to see how this light Randonee stuff handled as I'd only downhilled up to this point for a minute or so. My only concern was avoiding some of the cliff bands as I'm getting too old to handle 100 foot jumps anymore and the landing snow was not exactly conducive to cushioning near max velocity drops. I have to admit, I wasn't able to link all my turns and ended up hopping a few of them (really glad I wasn't doing any video, this was embarrassing) but was able to let the last part of the descent run straight out at the bottom, flying over a few crevasses without going around them as I had on the way up. However, by this time I was wishing I had brought some goggles or at least some glasses but I left them home to save weight. Once I regained Curtis Ridge I took the opportunity to shed a layer, have some easy cheese and a ketchup packet and drink mightily from a rivulet I found as I had left my water bottle with my bike to save weight.

My time management is always somewhat optimistic and I realized with it almost 4 PM that I had underestimated the time for the out and back from Ipsut Creek and that I was going to have to spend the night.  I didn't have a bike light or headlight with me, in order to save weight. By the time I regained my bike it was almost 6 PM, but enough light left to make a wickiup as I had no tent or sleeping bag or pad with me in order to save weight (if I had known this I would have stopped for a permit). I managed to either scrounge or break off enough evergreen branches to make a nice shelter under one of the picnic tables and have to admit, by now I was feeling a little tired. I can't say I was looking forward to the bike home but knew after some sleep that this wouldn't be a problem, and in fact, it really wasn't. I did stop at Starbucks on the way home and really enjoyed a coffee after a day without it: needless to say, coffee withdrawal was the most painful part of a trip like this!

late season pix, much more snow now in March so crevasses are filled in
late season pix, much more snow now in March so crevasses are filled in

I guess I like the Randonee gear, being able to skin and shush up is somewhat faster than just carrying and hiking along, but the lightness of the gear made me a little more tentative skiing down Willis Wall. Guess I just have to get used to it and accept that I can't dig into turns or land big air like I could in my alpine gear, and the weight savings going uphill seemed to help, I think I shaved 20 minutes off my ascent time from last year, and I'm not quite in the same shape as I was then. In retrospect maybe I should have driven to the Carbon River entrance; I probably could have left some more stuff behind to save weight.

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"You run with me, not the other way around. (Cassie re races)

williswall.com
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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday



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Born Yesterday
PostTue Apr 01, 2014 12:22 am 
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Did you summit?
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williswall
seeking tailwind



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Location: Bellevue, WA
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seeking tailwind
PostTue Apr 01, 2014 12:28 am 
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Tom_Sjolseth wrote:
Did you summit?

No, I was moving too slowly.....maybe next time.

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"You run with me, not the other way around. (Cassie re races)

williswall.com
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Tom_Sjolseth
Born Yesterday



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Born Yesterday
PostTue Apr 01, 2014 12:30 am 
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Well it was a nice try anyway.   Maybe next time bring along an extra ketchup packet.
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Ranger Smith
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PostTue Apr 01, 2014 5:44 am 
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wink.gif

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I'm a man, I can change, if I have to, I guess.
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Hikingqueen
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PostTue Apr 01, 2014 7:24 am 
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Very cool!
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DIYSteve
seeking hygge



Joined: 06 Mar 2007
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PostTue Apr 01, 2014 7:33 am 
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What?  You didn't do it switch?  Weak  wink.gif
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Cale Hoopes
On Glissade...



Joined: 13 Oct 2009
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On Glissade...
PostTue Apr 01, 2014 8:28 am 
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Why did you wear boots? I've done this barefoot before.

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Cale Hoopes
caledh@gmail.com
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iron
getting old



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getting old
PostTue Apr 01, 2014 9:39 am 
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sounds like you mastered the critter-style techniques on this one. but, we reallllly need to see a video of how you packed your bag. without it, this TR is somewhat lacking.

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man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

--- moe sizlack
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popzeus
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PostTue Apr 01, 2014 9:57 am 
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What a noob. If I had a dollar for every post about skiing Willis Wall. Seriously, Pilchuck gets less traffic than this route. Hit any poodles on the way down? Way to go, I guess.  lol.gif
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DIYSteve
seeking hygge



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seeking hygge
PostTue Apr 01, 2014 10:18 am 
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Randy and MtnMan skied it switch
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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 1632 | TRs
Location: Bellevue, WA
williswall
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seeking tailwind
PostTue Apr 01, 2014 11:34 am 
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Sorry I won't be able to reply for a few days as I am biking to Denali. To make it challenging I am a only using my left leg on the trip there and will switch to my right on the way back. I guess that's what BS means.

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"You run with me, not the other way around. (Cassie re races)

williswall.com
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Malachai Constant
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PostTue Apr 01, 2014 11:51 am 
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If you really want a challenge try skiing the famous Mount Si glacier.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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nordique
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PostTue Apr 01, 2014 6:51 pm 
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What a great April Fool's trip report!  At first, I assumed you must be a friend of Critter!  Or, worse/better, The Angry Hiker!
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gb
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PostWed Apr 02, 2014 9:37 am 
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Too bad you wussied out and didn't summit. The ice cliff at the top could have gotten you some really big air.
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