June 3, 2001, Squak/Easton Glaciers, Mt. Baker

6/3/01
WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
2311
0
Posted by ema on 9/15/02 8:51pm
It went pretty much like last week: again up the Squak Glacier, again down the drainages next to the Easton, this time in intermittent whiteout and light snow unpredictably mixed with periods of intense heat and sunshine. Fresh snow covers the accumulated tree pollen from 4500 feet upwards, building to about 10 inches at 8600 feet, our high point for the day. I accidentally poked a pole through the surface snow into a narrow crevasse (in precisely the last place you'd expect to find a crevasse) while climbing, pointing up the dangers inherent in skiing active glaciers in exceptionally low snow years. Big puffs of steam boiled up out of several vents in the crater all day, with sulfur stench occasionally windblown in our direction.

As trip leader I tried my best to lag at least 100 yards behind my charges on the uphill, the better to notice if anything went wrong and needed my attention. Of course, nothing went wrong and nothing needed my attention, so I tried lagging 200 yards behind, panting a bit and stopping sometimes to lean on my poles. Still nothing. Feeling rather put out at this I tried to forge into the lead on the long ski down, promptly leading us well off-route in the limited visibility, necessitating a brief bit of un-skinned climbing to get back on track. I had waxed my skis with incredibly slippery fluorinated wax the night before, and could not climb. The others seemed to have no problem.

As to the snow itself, there's nothing much new to report. The fresh snow up high has turned everything brilliant white, and there were some good turns to be had...bearing in mind the usual caveats about skiing in deep sloppy conditions: don't anticipate your turns, accentuate weighting and unweighting, keep your speed up, etc. Sluffs and snow snails did what they usually do on anything much steeper than 35 degrees, but we saw nothing terribly worrisome. Lower down, new and old snow were merging into a heavy, wet mess for which I have no adequately expressive metaphor ("wallpaper paste," a personal favorite, captures the essential gluey quality but not the extravagant density). The new snow kept the pollen from accumulating on our ski bases, but this will not last long.

The trailhead is almost melted out, and though the sides of the road were lined with dozens of climbers cars by 6:30 AM, there appeared to be no snow machines, so the mountain belongs to pedestrians again. There were a couple of bare patches low in the trees on the climb up (below 4000 feet), but we again managed to ski all the way out to the road on the way down. This will probably not be possible by next weekend, although those willing to ski stumps and pine needles might want to give it a try and report back.

Enjoy.

Mark

Reply to this TR

631
june-3-2001-squak-easton-glaciers-mt-baker
ema
2002-09-16 03:51:55