Home > Trip Reports > June 21, 2001, Mt. Adams, SW Chutes

June 21, 2001, Mt. Adams, SW Chutes

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by ema on 9/15/02 9:23pm
I see lots of recent reports here from those planning to ski the SW chutes, but doing the regular South Rib route instead. Anyway, after a couple of similar "failures" in previous years, I did finally manage to ski the SW Chutes and it was quite a memorable run. My friend used a splitboard and I used randonee. We left Cold Springs at 6 am, skinned and climbed the South Rib to the false summit just after 2pm (kind of slow, eh?), and began the descent at 3pm. On this perfect day with full sun and light winds, that was a couple hours too late for optimal snow conditions, the top 4-8 inches were well-softened (especially the whiter patches of recent snow, although older dirtier areas were firmer and much better). This made for a mushy run, but also made stopping quite easy in case of a fall. The slope is a consistent 35+ degrees from 11400 ft down to almost 8500, with the steepest pitch at the very bottom (about 40 degrees for a couple hundred feet), so self-arresting is a major concern if the slope is not softened.

Numerous embedded fallen rocks make the slope interesting below 9000 ft, and there is an absolute maze of fallen rocks to negotiate on the gentler pitches below 8000 ft. However, despite 1000's of rocks studding the slope, we saw none coming down at us, and also managed not to destroy our skis or board on any of the embedded rocks. We skied continuously down through various ash-covered rolls to the outlet of the big bowl at 7000 ft. We continued skiing down the outlet stream gully to 6400 ft, with a couple of short ski-removals needed to cross rocky areas. Total skiable vertical of 5100 feet from the false summit. Below 6400 ft, we downclimbed easy open forested slopes along the edge of the gully to meet the Round the Mountain Trail beside a little waterfall at 6050 ft. About 1.5 miles of up-and-down hiking on the 80% snow-free trail returned us to the signed junction with the South Climb trail at 6300 ft. Right now, this trail exit is probably much easier than traversing across the bare talus-and-ash slopes higher up.

Numerous photos and a full trip report will be posted soon on my website at http://www.skimountaineer.com/

Amar Andalkar

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2002-09-16 04:23:40