Joined: 08 Jul 2018
Posts: 17 | TRs
|Went up to the Shelokum Lake area last weekend for some fun in the snow. Highway 20 was clear enough to drive to MP 176 for a Friday night bivy. In the morning I collected my things and skinned up the road to pick up the Cedar Creek Trail. The trail was straightforward, with no fresh tracks after Cedar Falls. I crossed the creek at 4000' on a decent sized snow bridge and made my way up through mostly open forest. Snow was transitioning from winter to spring, which at least for Saturday made for a good combination of soft and grippy. New growth in a couple of avy chutes made for some tight maneuvering, but really not bad. My first real view of North Gardner's west face revealed it to be melting out fast.
The weather changed abruptly from partly sunny to cloudy between 1 and 2 pm, and shortly afterwards began to graupel. I struggled with skin glop as I made my way up to the east-facing ridge south of the south summit of Shelokum. Booted from about 7500' with skis until I found myself on some steep snow-covered slabby stuff. Transitioned to axe and crampons and for the next 100' excavated a snow gully searching for handholds and footholds. Sketchy. Reached the ridge and discovered my mistake - there is a hidden N facing gully from the main open slope right where 7600' is marked on USGS, invisible from below. Should have gone that way, but probably still would have been some crappy wallowing in snow. It took 1 hour for me to reach the summit along the complex ridge. 30 min to get back. Skied down that little N gully to easier terrain, set up camp by 6 pm at 6500' near some miraculously running and accessible water.
Exit apron from NW Couloir of N Gardner
W face of N Gardner
View from the lake
From the top of Shelokum
After a comfortable night I set out for Lamont in light snow around 6:45 am. Basically aimed for the saddle between Lamont and N Gardner. There was a decent amount of fresh snow on a semi skiable/breakable crust, probably some wind deposit. Thankfully it was too cold for glop, but the fresh snow on crust rendered ski crampons mostly useless. Started booting around 7300' but did a fair bit of snow wallowing once I was near any rocks. Back to skinning briefly, then more booting, eventually bypassing the true saddle and aiming for the top of a gully at the ~7920' E peak. Visibility had steadily deteriorated during the climb, but then dropped to <100 yards. I slogged the ridge and now freshly covered choss to reach the summit around 9:30. Not much for views up there!
Slowly losing vis
Returned to my skis and mostly retraced my uptrack to the creek crossing at 4000'. There were some fun sections early on, then a long slushy slog out below 5500' as rain became snow and soaked me every time I came close to a tree. Switched to skins at the crossing for the up-and-down Cedar Creek Trail. There I saw new ski and snowshoe tracks, including ski tracks crossing Cedar Creek (to access Huckleberry Creek?). Once back below the summer TH I skied the road and a short section of Highway 20 to reach the car by 3 pm.
Weather continuing to worsen on the way out
The snow bridge
Definitely a case of using skis for access over gnar. I think I was there a little late for much good skiing. There were some sharks. Deeper snow would make this a good touring spot, though deeper in winter I imagine the peaks would be tougher to reach. In the summer months I'll bet they go as a sweet scramble.