January 19-21, 2013, Enchantments

WA Cascades East Slopes Central
Posted by Charlie Hagedorn on 1/22/13 2:31am
"Will you be in the lab on Monday?" asked my officemate on Friday afternoon. "Only if the snow is bad!" was my reply. I didn't know that there was a third option.

We'd played with lots of options through the week, ultimately settling on a hunt for sunny corn in the Enchantments, or perhaps on the slopes to the south. We debated entrances for a while, then pointed our skis at Aasgard.


Skinned from the car, leaving about 10 am. Easy ride up the Eightmile road, fairly straightforward trail to the second creek crossing. First bridge skinnable but thought-provoking, bypassed second bridge on a snowbridge just downstream. Burned a little time finding our way up the last thousand feet to the lake, but found our way happily enough. Skinning on the lake by 3:30 (?). Debated camping at Colchuck Lake, but decided to press on up the Pass, knowing we'd top out in early darkness.

Ski crampons went on, and worked great for a while, then boots, then crampons. Susan's competent, capable, and fast on steep/firm snow; I'm a bit of a headcase. Much of the upper half/ two-thirds of Aasgard was pencil/knife hardness; easy cramponing but a long ride back to the lake in case of error. Midway up, I said to myself, "Man, I'm glad I won't have to come back down this thing." Higher up the slope, the slope seemed stable, but very stout 6-12" windslab hung everywhere atop sintered fine-grain sugar. Beginning to bonk from over-reliance on frontpoints, I joined Susan atop the Pass in the moonlight.

A little walking about, and we found home for the next two nights. A submillimeter-thick weak layer (surface hoar?) about 8" down beneath the windhammered surface made for easy blockwork as we dug in the tent.


Sunrise was very fine; yesterday's high clouds were nearly gone, and the warm sunshine felt good. It also lit up endless windscoured snow. Would anything soften? Could we get back out? Sunday's project became one of rattling the prison bars, looking for a chink in the glazed armor of the Upper Enchantments.

We'd been through this process before in
Hmm, "chunder"--is that a technical snow science geek term, Charlie????
Cool trip and thanks for all the useful snowpack and conditions info.

Sweet loop!  Yes, let's hope for the next storm to come in warm!!

You and Susan are a great team.  While reading the report, I was pleased that you both returned with all the pieces intact.  ;)

author=Zap link=topic=27130.msg114297#msg114297 date=1358886762] You and Susan are a great team.  While reading the report, I was pleased that you both returned with all the pieces intact.  ;)

Sometime over the weekend, I recounted your words from the day you sold me my first ski crampons, probably in 2007. "Now, you use these harscheisen when you're scared... "

This weekend, I used them as much for convenience as safety. It's so much more efficient to have confident footing than teeter over a ski edge and a few wisps of climbing skin.

author=John Morrow link=topic=27130.msg114286#msg114286 date=1358879763]Hmm, "chunder"--is that a technical snow science geek term, Charlie????

Not sure where I first heard it in an avalanche context, but I didn't invent it. When I did a lot of whitewater kayaking, we referred to getting thrown around violently in a recirculating hydraulic as 'getting chundered'. Seems like a reasonable parallel to the dynamic avalanche environment.

Googling 'chunder' suggests that's it's also an Australian euphemism for vomit; also not a bad approximation for the huge chunks 'o snow beneath a wet slide...

Great report Charlie - sounds like gorgeous weather and sporting travel...  Glad you hooked up with Jonah and Anne, they're awesome folks.  And South is delicious...

Love this sunrise shot:

Ooh, and this one!

I love the blue light on the pyramid.  Great shot.

Nice trip, Charlie!

author=Marcus link=topic=27130.msg114318#msg114318 date=1358904588]Ooh, and this one!

Susan spent a lot more time outside that night making photographs - more and better photos may be on the way.

Awesome.  I'd love to scoop up some copies for future home page photos...

author=Marcus link=topic=27130.msg114318#msg114318 date=1358904588]
Ooh, and this one!

This is one of the most unique photos of the upper Enchantments I have ever seen!  Very Sci-Fi, as if a glowing diamond fell out of space. 

A very, er, "interesting" weekend:

From my perspective:


  • Running into an old coworker on the way up FS road 7601.

  • Mountain goat tracks in various spots along the way

  • Sunrise and sunset photo ops

  • Running into Jonah and Anne, my new two favorite people in the world


  • Carrying skis up Aasgard Pass on my back.  Perhaps a physicist can explain how my 30-pound pack can quadruple in weight when I put 10 pounds of skis on it.

  • The fear that our Snow Lakes exit would be as bad as our last (which included 6 hours in the dark, clambering over avy-downed trees and some really really really sore feet.

  • Icy chunder, Post-hole City, the Bridge of Deception (which looked totally benign until I got to the far side...) and other bits of the exit (see map: http://www.flickr.com/photos/susanashlock/8407959608/in/set-72157632592116952)

I think the smartest person of the weekend (with regards to this trip) was Franklin, who suggested that snowshoes might be the way to go.  I can think of at least one section where I would have gladly traded skis for snowshoes!

And, of course, more photos:

Charlie's UFO shot (but with a bigger lens):

Wonderful photos.  The wind packed slopes were great to see and not ski.   ;)

Cool! I went to Colchuck lake with similar plans on the 21st with a friend, but we bailed on account of some equipment issues. Truly a wildly variable snowpack just now. Nice work!

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Charlie Hagedorn
2013-01-22 10:31:51