Home > Trip Reports > December 27, 2001, Lake Anne Butte, Mt. Baker

December 27, 2001, Lake Anne Butte, Mt. Baker

12/27/01
WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
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Posted by ema on 9/16/02 10:42pm
It might be we've seen the last of the powder for a while, at least here in my neighborhood. Four of us skied the north side of Lake Anne Butte, a nice and sustained north-facing shot down increasingly wet snow from the ridge at 5500 feet to the edge of the trees below 4000. This, with a long access and return, used up a full day and spat us out onto the ski area cat track around dark for a final blind and crunchy run on refrozen corduroy directly to the parking lot.

Being in charge of carrying the group's entire supply of blind optimism in the face of overwhelming evidence, I kept maintaining that the powder awaited just a couple of hundred feet higher....but as fast as we climbed, the freezing level climbed faster. Our last 6 or 800 feet were in that peculiar snow which results when powder first thaws a bit and becomes irrevocably attracted to climbing skins. Each step became some variety of torture, and after a brief stint breaking trail I managed to find some excuse to allow others to take over for me. There was little enthusiasm for climbing the last few hundred feet to the actual summit (despite my entreaties), so we de-skinned on top of a small cornice and quote dropped in unquote. In my case this consisted of a split-second in the air followed immediately by my patented, two-part, syncopated ground contact: skis, then face--ker-CHUNK!

The snow itself was stiff and slow, which offered a few amusing moments; it was a day for staying steep and staying in the fall line. Up high, it felt silky and smooth as long as you carried a lot of speed. Dropping lower, sections steeper than 40 degrees were prone to sluff vast quantities of rolling snow-snails when cut, and although these were limited to near the surface and died out quickly in concavities, they did tend to ruin the formerly pristine snow. At one point the best skier among us was run down by a pack of them and pummeled mercilessly as she tried to get out of range, yelling "Ouch! Ouch!" In such heavy snow (and among such a proliferation of death cookies), timid skiing styles were quickly punished and aggression was the order of the day. I was particularly favored in this respect, being a good eighty pounds heavier than the most substantial of my companions, and for the most part I was able to pound and pummel the snow into submission on each turn. Every so often, the snow exacted its revenge.

This tour did, I must say, incorporate much revelry-not to say ribaldry-fueled in part by homemade fudge and sandwiches of exotic holiday leftovers, in part by some sort of homemade, high-octane Irish Cream carried in a large thermos. My companions on this trip were all women, all approximately half my age, all slim, trim, shapely, graceful and far more pleasant to behold than I. They called me gramps, although not to my face (I believe this had to do with the fact that I was carrying the car keys), and spent a considerable amount of time inventing snippets of trip report with which I might enliven this chronicle. Sweat, skin, panting and the unzipping of a variety of zippers featured heavily in these narratives, but alas, the details escape me at this moment, else I would surely share them here.

Ski well and enjoy the season.

Mark

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december-27-2001-lake-anne-butte-mt-baker
ema
2002-09-17 05:42:51