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Backcountry skiing photos : ski touring in Spray Park on Mt. Rainier
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This is a gallery of ski touring photos which appeared on the Turns All Year home page in the past. Thumbnail images on this page can be clicked to view the full-sized photos, and lead into a slide show sequence for the gallery. The photos are from a backcountry ski tour on waxless skis (with fishscales) to Spray Park and the Flett Glacier on the northwest side of Mt. Rainier. Our route led us past Mowich Lake, over Knapsack Pass and Mt. Pleasant, across Spray Park, and up the Flett Glacier to the base of Observation Rock. The snow was mostly firm and fast on this sunny day, and good turns were found descending the Flett Glacier back to Spray Park.
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Turns All Year CD-ROM

The complete version of this photo gallery is now available on Turns All Year CD-ROM. Below you can view thumbnail photos from this gallery.

Turns All Year CD-ROM contains over 180 photo galleries, containing more than 3200 full-sized photos, from backcountry skiing and snowboarding trips in the Pacific Northwest.

from May 10, 2004:
Ski touring, Spray Park, Flett Glacier, Mt. Rainier, April 30, 2004
Skibiking on the Mowich Lake Road
Skibiking on the
Mowich Lake Road
In the forest below Mowich Lake
In the forest
below Mowich Lake
Mt. Rainier from Knapsack Pass
Mt. Rainier from
Knapsack Pass
Matt, east side of Knapsack Pass
Matt, east side
of Knapsack Pass
Ski touring near Knapsack Pass
Ski touring near
Knapsack Pass
Matt, turns on south side of Mt. Pleasant
Matt, turns on south
side of Mt. Pleasant
Ski touring in Spray Park, with Mt. Pleasant
Ski touring in Spray Park,
with Mt. Pleasant
Ski touring in Spray Park, with Flett Glacier
Ski touring in Spray Park,
with Flett Glacier
Shiny Spray Park firn spiegel
Shiny Spray Park firn spiegel
Above Spray Park
Above Spray Park
Flett Glacier and Observation Rock
Flett Glacier and
Observation Rock
Flett Glacier and Mt. Rainier
Flett Glacier and Mt. Rainier
Matt, turns below Observation Rock
Matt, turns below
Observation Rock
Charles, below Observation Rock
Charles, below
Observation Rock
Charles, below Observation Rock
Charles, below
Observation Rock
Charles, turns below Observation Rock
Charles, turns below
Observation Rock
Matt, Cat-Eye Lake run
Matt, Cat-Eye Lake run
Matt, Cat-Eye Lake run
Matt, Cat-Eye Lake run
Matt, turns on Cat-Eye Lake run
Matt, turns on
Cat-Eye Lake run
Matt, Cat-Eye Lake run
Matt, Cat-Eye Lake run
Charles, Cat-Eye Lake run
Charles, Cat-Eye Lake run
Charles, Cat-Eye Lake run
Charles, Cat-Eye Lake run
Ski touring back over Mt. Pleasant
Ski touring back
over Mt. Pleasant
Spray Park and Mt. Rainier from Mt. Pleasant
Spray Park and Mt. Rainier
from Mt. Pleasant
Matt, turns on west side of Knapsack Pass
Matt, turns on west
side of Knapsack Pass
Charles, west side of Knapsack Pass
Charles, west
side of Knapsack Pass
Matt, in the forest
Matt, in the forest


Photos by Matt Depies and Charles Eldridge

Associated trip report: Matt and I wanted to get back on the waxless skis and do a long tour, and road info from MRNP suggested that the Mowich Lake road was snowfree for a mile, then patchy for another mile, meaning perfect for bike-ski access. In reality, the road was snow-free for half a mile, patchy for another half mile, then pretty much solid snow (with 2 very short bare spots) to Mowich Lake. We pedaled and pushed the bikes to the solid snow at one mile, then stashed the bikes, and beer, in the trees. This left 4 miles of road to Mowich Lake, but there was enough snow in the forest to cut off all road travel from the hairpin at 4300' to the lake. There had been a hard freeze overnight and so the skiing was pretty fast. There was 6-8' of snow at Mowich Lake, which meant continuous snow all the way up to Knapsack Pass. I didn't bring skins, so I booted up the last steep part to the pass on the mostly firm snow, but Matt skinned.
   After a snack-and-view rest at the pass, we skied down the east side of Knapsack Pass. This snow had been heating all morning on this sunny day and the turns were a bit mushy, so we bailed into a south traverse across the bottom of steep slopes and both set off wet loose slides which would have been really scary if there had been long slopes below us. The initial few inches of sliding surface snow quickly gouged down a foot or more and created impressive piles considering their short run. We skied over the shoulder of Mt. Pleasant where the hiking path goes, then down the south slope into Spray Park. A bit soft on the way down but then firm and fast snow across upper Spray Park and on the moderate climb to the 7200' saddle at the base of the eastern lobe of the Flett Glacier which lies between Echo Rock and Observation Rock.
   There we took a longer break for food and naps, then skied up the Flett to our high point at 7800' right under Observation Rock. There was some newer snow piled and drifted above 7500', perhaps from the big Tuesday storm (the wind had been from the N or NW)? We skied down the short steeper slope and then crossed over west below the steep snow face under Observation Rock, and then skied the run down past Cat-Eye Lake (frozen). The snow was a little tricky at the top but became perfect for turning - well frozen with a little soft on top. We then traversed back to our tracks and retraced our route across Spray Park, over Mt. Pleasant, and up to Knapsack Pass.
   We were concerned about getting up the unstable slope on the east side of the pass, but it had firmed up a bit in the shade (even getting a surface crust) and though still mushy, slides were not a problem and we could climb it with our fishscales. We found a little finger of snow which let us get down the west side of Knapsack without removing skis. Nice turns at the top, then a somewhat mushy section before the glide down the valley. With the good coverage we decided to try a different route back to the road-end, down a little draw to the south of the hiking path, and this worked great as it had only about 100vf of bumpy, dirty forest snow to get down. We followed our up-route back to the bikes. At first the snow on the road was a bit slow, but the turn-and-glide along our forest shortcuts was fast and fun, and after that the road skiing got faster, and we were back to the beer in short order. It was great to get into Spray Park with such extensive snow coverage, and with the great weather and snow conditions, we marvelled that there weren't more people there!
    Charles

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