Monday, June 30, 2014

6/21/2014, Mt. Jefferson, Russell Glacier Headwall

Oregon doesn't suck; it is late June, the weather has been mostly clear and warm, but not hot, and the adventure opportunities are endless.  Recently, among other things, I have been split between skateboarding our awesome skateparks and snowboarding on our stratovolcanoes.  When Buell emailed me and asked if I was interested in checking out a new area on Mt. Jefferson,  my response was obvious, I was in.  Mt. Jefferson is the 2nd tallest mountain in Oregon, has steep aesthetic lines, but sees little human traffic due to its remote access, and well… its big steep faces.   

On the night of June 20th, Buell and I met at the Pamela Lake Trailhead, and prepared for a long day.  Our objective was to check out the NW side of the mountain and potentially ride on the Russell Glacier.  With an extra long approach, we got and early start in the morning, and kept a quick pace on the trail.  After some solid trail time, it was time to go uphill.  Hiking up the steep slopes on the mountains NW side, we got a unique view of the Milk Creek drainage.  Notice the downed trees high up on the drainages steep sidewalls.  It makes you think about the avalanches that rip down Jefferson's west face in the winter.  How big is big?? because the potential is gnarly. 

Downed trees high up in Milk Creek.     

After hitting snow, we put on our boots and kept hiking.

 Booting up the "NW Rib".

Good views looking to the South.

Good views looking to the North. (look closely to see Mt. Saint Helen's, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams)

Getting on the ridge bordering the Russell Glacier, we took a break as clouds were keeping the snow frozen.  Heres a cool picture of a bergschrund.

Central Oregon Cascades.

An hour or so later the sun burned off most of the clouds, so we continued climbing.

We had scoped out a nice looking chute on the Russell Glacier Headwall, but weren't sure that it went through.  Getting to the our access point on the ridge, we still couldn't tell if the chute went through.  Buell rode partway down the steep slope, got a good view down the crux of the line, and gave me the thumbs up.

Buell caught these pictures of me shredding.  (photo: Buell Steelman)

(Photo: Buell Steelman)

Getting out of the chute, I turned around and snapped some pictures of Buell carving down.

Steep chute on the Russell Headwall.

After regrouping, we wasted no time and quickly rode down the Russell Glacier.  This glacier has serious exposure to rockfall, even far down on the glacier where you would expect it to be safe.  I didn't feel comfortable stopping, so I took this picture of Buell while we were riding west, and towards the safer slopes.

WOW… WE JUST FREAKING RIPPED THAT!!!! (photo: Buell Steelman)

Looking back at the Russell Headwall, we rode the crooked chute in the center of the photo.

At the bottom of the Glacier, we regained the ridgeline, and booted up to a west facing chute.  Its always nice to get two runs on a volcano mission.  Buell dropping in.

We leaped from our way down the chute.  Buell took these photos of me carving. (photo: Buell Steelman)

(photo: Buell Steelman) 

Buell carving down another great run, Three Finger Jack in the background.

Stoked after an awesome day, we took a quick break, and prepared for the hike back to the car.  Travel was pretty easy, except for a steep half mile section of bushwhack to connect with the PCT.  I took this picture of Buell mid-shwack.  You probably can't see him, but he is in there.

 What a great day in a new area, this is what Oregon split boarding is all about!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

6/11/2014, Mt. Adams, Avalanche Headwall

After climbing and riding on Broken Top, I had successfully achieved a personal goal of mine to ride the prominent peaks in the Oregon Cascades.  I have summited (or close too) and ridden off of, the ten highest Oregon Volcanos and more; something I was working towards since the first time I climbed Mt. Hood in 2012.  Stoked on this achievement, and after a long season of splitboarding, I am starting to loose motivation, even though the volcano season is still in full swing.  In early June, although my motivation was not high, I still couldn't pass up on an opportunity for some awesome snowboarding.  Hearing that the Mt. Adams South Climb trailhead had recently opened, and a promising weather window enticed me to head east, and into the Gifford Pinchot National Forrest.  I didn't have a partner but was felt confident with the route, as the Mt. Adams South Climb doesn't have much exposure.  Aiming for a west facing decent, I left the car at 7:30am.       

Cool views of Mt. Hood through the burn trees. Unfortunately, I got stuck hiking with a group of 9 skiers, one of whom thought it was "OK" to take shit 2 feet of the trail.  Not a pretty sight, and poor backcountry etiquette.

I wasn't going to let some lame skiers ruin my day though; I told the goober he was lame, and kept hiking.  Nearing the Crescent Glacier, and looking up the Mt. Adams South climb.

As expected, awesome views of Mt. Saint Helen's.

Mt. Adam's South Climb is straight forward, just a long hike.  I reached the summit just after 1pm.  After getting my stuff situated for the decent, pulled my camera out and took some pictures.

Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Goat Rocks. 

Hanging out on the summit, I listened to the lame group of skiers discuss wanting to descend the Avalanche Glacier headwall, the same descent I was hoping for.  Watching the group attempt to locate the entrance to the headwall, I knew they were no threat to the snow, as they had no clue what they were looking for.  After a nice soaking up of summit stoke, my descent time of 2pm came; I bid the group a good descent, and rode off.  Riding enjoyable, and "edge-able" snow off the summit for the first time ever, I was stoked.  I checked to make sure no one was following me, and dropped through the rocks towards the Avy Glacier headwall.

Getting onto the west facing slopes, the snow was perfect, and I was stoking… This is what I climbed all morning for.  Looking down the chute and convexity dropping to the headwall.

The snow was perfect corn.  Really, PERFECT.  I felt fortunate to have this beautiful line to myself.  I rode the steep portion of the headwall, top to bottom without stopping, it was awesome...

After a dreamy run, I rode down until it was time to traverse back to the Crescent Glacier.  Just after 2 hours from the summit, I was back at the car drinking a well deserved beer.

Another great day on Mt. Adams.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

6/05 - 6/06/2014, Broken Top Crater

After an awesome day with Jim and Buell on North Sister, I headed south towards the recently opened Cascade Lakes Highway.  I camped out that evening, and slept well after a long day in the backcountry.  The weather looked promising for the next couple days, and although I didn't have a partner, I was still motivated to get out.   The next morning, I had a solid breakfast, packed my stuff, and did some stretching before hiking towards the glacially carved crater, of Broken Top.   

I started at the Todd Lake turn off, and was able to skin directly from the car.  I like signs. 

Skinning out to Broken Top felt sloggish.  It's only 3-4 miles, but has little elevation gain.  Getting my first view of the crater, I was stoked.  It looked a little rocky, but the terrain is rad none-the-less.  

Getting close to the volcano, I dropped my overnight gear at a suitable camp spot, and headed up into the crater.

Good views and cool rocks in Broken Top's crater. 

Being early afternoon, the west facing slopes in the crater were corning up nicely.  I used a pre-existing boot pack to climb to the crater rim.  As always on volcano missions, the views were RAD. 

After soaking in the views, I ripped down through the rock pillars, down to the Crook Glacier. 

The snow was great, so I hiked back up for another run. 

After another fun run, I contemplated going up for a third, but ultimately decided I should head down and set up camp.

I set up my camp, and enjoyed the light show over a cold Pabst pounder. 

I slept well that evening, and lounged in the morning, not getting out of my sleeping bag until 8:00am.  My plan was to ride the east facing lines next to camp, including this chute feature.  With camp at the base of the lines, and the snow corning up fast; I skipped breakfast, and set a boot pack up to the ridge.   

A little over an hour later, I was looking down the chute, ready to shred.

After an awesome chute'r,  I jammed up the boot pack as quick as possible, hoping to get another run in before the snow got too mushy.

My first run was the chute on the far right, my second run was the chute on the far left.

After a breakfast of split boarding, I went back to camp and made some chili mac, before embarking on the journey back to the car.  A great way to end a great trip.  

Mt. Bachelor on the hike out. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

6/04/2014, North Sister, EMC+

After riding the Diller Headwall on 6/01, Buell and I were STOKED.  The weather was still holding up for later in the week, so we made tentative plans of getting out.  JimW, an old friend of Buell's was going to be in Bend, and wanted to make an attempt at the EMC on 6/04.  Although we had ridden the couloir 2 weeks before,  Buell and I thought, "Why the heck not?".  So for the fourth time this spring Buell and I met at the Pole Creek Trailhead.  Jim met us in the there in the morning, and we were leaving the trailhead shortly after 5am.  

Jim and Buell hiking in the early morning light. 

And again, we are skinning towards the EMC, and the Villard. 

A group from the weekend, had set a boot pack up the ridge separating the EMC and the Villard.  We used this boot pack to access the couloir.  It is a sustained steep slope, I didn't measure the slope, but probably 45 degrees, for around 1100'.

Buell caught me nearing the top of the boot pack.  (Photo: Buell Steelman)

Then after a short knife-like traverse, we were ready to rip. 

I got to drop first, and did my best to rip it up. (Photo: Buell Steelman)

Jim dropped next, and made it look easy. (Photo: Buell Steelman)

And Buell, bringing up the caboose. 

After an awesome shred, it was still early, and we decided to check out a new zone. When your splitboarding, your must go up to go down.  Jim and myself booting.  (Photo: Buell Steelman)

After consulting some pictures that Buell had (very intelligently) brought in his pack.  We had found an entrance to our chute.  After riding an exposed slope, we slipped through some rocks, and were in our chute.  Getting into the chute, the snow was perfect, and we were stoking.  Jim ripping it up.

Buell schralping through the red rock.

Morgan getting pitted under a rock pillar. (Photo: Buell Steelman)

Our tracks seen from the bottom of the slope.  What an unexpectedly awesome run.

After 2 top notch volcano chuter's, we threw the skis back on our packs, and were hiking back to the car.  What a great day!