July 6-7, 2019, Spider Meadows

7/6/19
WA Cascades Central E
2631
18
Posted by mikerolfs on 7/7/19 3:16pm
Jtack and I had a leisurely ski weekend in Spider Meadow with good (south facing) and great (north facing) skiing both days. Plenty of snow to warrant a 3rd or even 4th day, but we both had things to do on Monday and so we just spent the one night. We saw tracks of two skiers that we missed by one day. They skied the Lyman Glacier on Chiwawa. Bold ski this late in the season! We gave a junior college try at skiing the East Peak of Chiwawa, but standard approach is melted out and the fall hazard was greater than our desire, and so we turned around to ski safer slopes. It is still worth going in to Spider Meadow. Of course the Spider Glacier is skiable (bumpy ride), but also the Lyman side of Spider gap has continuous snow almost to the valley floor. That cirque is magnificent and worth it just to look north in awe at the vertical walls. We witnessed further decline of the Lyman glacier from the bottom of our Lyman side ski. The lower portion of the glacier detached from the rocky bed and slid into the upper Lyman lake, leaving a dry, rocky shadow where the glacier used to be. I can remember when this glacier was 30 or 40 feet thick at the upper lake edge and regularly calved into the lake with icebergs floating around routinely. Change is hard.

Really fun weekend. From my tally sheet: we met 104 people on our way in on Saturday. 53 cars in the lot (except the "lot" holds about 10 cars, and the spill over was probably a 1/4 mile long). We met only 18 people on our way out on Sunday and there were only 10 cars in the "lot" as we left. We met 19 dogs, 2 babies, 2 honeymooning couples, friends Molly, Ethan and James off a Napequa loop, Paul, who was finishing a 35 mile one-day jog of the Buck/Spider loop, a guy who was finishing an amazing solo traverse of Maude, 7-finger Jack, Fernow, Copper, Bonanza, Dark pk, Northstar, and back to the car via Lyman Lake and Spider Meadow (Holy Smokes!). We met so many interesting people, it was fun just for the social value. Plus, the skiing.

jtack


The one little steep bit of the spider glacier


Weather. Glad we had shelter!


Spider Gap


Lyman side skiing. (Worth it!)


This is the Lyman Glacier. You can see the portion of the glacier that popped off and slid floating in the lake. The exposed rock surface depresses me. How long has it been since that rock saw daylight. 500 years? Change is hard.


Headed home. Totally worth the walk. Super fun.


Hey Mike - glad you and Jamie ran into Paul! Dude is the best. As a heads up, you're likely seeing the seasonal sluffing of the lower glacier's névé snow. Here's a picture from last September 24, 2018. Note that it's pretty darn bare much higher.

I'm in agreement, it's in recession, but maybe not as acutely from this instance.
2019-07-17 12:56:10
NH-S
author=NH-S link=topic=42072.msg165445#msg165445 date=1562603491]
Hey Mike - glad you and Jamie ran into Paul! Dude is the best. As a heads up, you're likely seeing the seasonal sluffing of the lower glacier's névé snow. Here's a picture from last September 24, 2018. Note that it's pretty darn bare much higher.

I'm in agreement, it's in recession, but maybe not as acutely from this instance.


Ha! I thought we were witnessing a sudden change. Thanks for correcting my bad assumption. I guess those rocks see daylight on an annual basis now.
2019-07-17 13:06:38
mikerolfs
Mike,

You'll have to write me next year to join. I need to visit that glacier yet ;)

2019-07-21 13:14:56
Jason_H.
author=Jason_H. link=topic=42072.msg165456#msg165456 date=1563230769]
Mike,
You'll have to write me next year to join. I need to visit that glacier yet ;)


It's on my calendar. Mar 20. Call Hummel about Lyman Gl.
Looking forward to it!
2019-07-21 13:27:19
mikerolfs
Great report Mike!

You probably know that the Spider and Lyman Glaciers have hosted summer skiing for a long time. This article from an old Wenatchee Ski Club scrapbook gives a sense of how long. I copied it during a visit with Wilfred Woods in 2007.



Your pictures of the Lyman glacier make me think of early visits there. Here are some pictures from a climb of Chiwawa in September 1980.

Ascending Lyman Lake basin:



Snout of the Lyman Glacier (head-on):



Side view of the Lyman Glacier snout:



Lots of change in 40 years...




2019-07-21 17:34:58
Lowell_Skoog
Thanks for the old down valley photos and the note from the paper, Lowell. Good stuff. Here's another 24 SEP 2018 picture to pair with yours. As you said, lots of decline on that lower glacier.
2019-07-22 15:48:33
NH-S
Wow, thanks for the history lesson Lowell
2019-07-22 23:27:06
kamtron
Really cool/sad pictures. I'll add another from Sept. 2007.
2019-07-23 18:43:43
skier8484
I have two to add:

1989 - My memory said 30-40 feet thick, but I see that was an exaggeration:


This book was published in 1985. Maybe the photo is one of Lowell's!
2019-07-24 17:26:34
mikerolfs
Sweet trip report and pics. Glad to see you guys getting it in July

Sad to see how the glacier has receded in recent years. Cool that members of this community have such great photos for reference.

2019-07-25 18:53:38
Snowboy
I have several historic glacier photos that were forwarded to me by Mauri Pelto, head of the North Cascades Glacier Climate Project. (The photos have been added to the Mountaineers Archives.)

It's interesting to note that significant recession of the Lyman Glacier had already occurred before 1940. I think it reflected the passing of the "Little Ice Age" that ended in the 1800s. But things seem to have accelerated since then.



This picture from J.B. Richardson was taken around 1940, and while the ice is certainly thinner in my 1980 photo, the lake in my pictures is only a little bigger than it was in 1940. Based on the photo from NH-S, the lake seems much bigger now.

---
Also interesting that even in 1940, the connection between the lower glacier (near the lake) and the upper glacier (reaching just below the summit of Chiwawa) was tenuous, almost non-existent. You have to go back to around 1900 to find pictures that show a good solid connection between the upper and lower glacier. (I have one of those.)

It's likely that the lower glacier has been doomed ever since that connection was lost. Sad to see it disappearing in our lifetimes.

2019-07-29 16:21:52
Lowell_Skoog
Here's the full extent of the lake from the same day. A quick glassing of it on Google Earth has me guessing the lake is 2000' in length now?
2019-07-29 19:11:52
NH-S
Gosh, you could water-ski on that thing.
2019-07-29 19:23:05
Lowell_Skoog
Here's that older picture, apparently taken in autumn. I think it was taken around 1900.



To my eye, it appears that there's a good connection between the upper and lower glacier, which would enable the glacier below the firn line to survive. That's been gone for a long time, it seems.
2019-07-29 20:03:23
Lowell_Skoog
Also noteworthy that the ridge north of Chiwawa's summit was known as "Hanging Glacier Peak" to the Hesseys when they skied here in the 1950s. No glacier on that peak anymore.

A short film clip can be viewed here:

http://www.alpenglow.org/mountaineers-history/notes/movie/hessey-1956-skiing-cascwild.html
2019-07-29 20:07:52
Lowell_Skoog
Wow awesome video Lowell.would love to see the 33 min. Version...so are they using kick wax or skins...looks like pretty good glide and grip.
2019-07-30 17:03:29
rlsg
author=rlsg link=topic=42072.msg165471#msg165471 date=1563403078]
Wow awesome video Lowell.would love to see the 33 min. Version...so are they using kick wax or skins...looks like pretty good glide and grip.


The Hesseys were expert waxers.
2019-07-30 19:08:14
Lowell_Skoog
Love that video snippet, thanks for sharing!
2019-08-06 21:29:13
mtneer ordinaire

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