Katsuk Gl and Mesahchie Icefall couloir

WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
Posted by hedonaut on 5/18/21 10:01pm

Fine touring last weekend from Easy Pass trailhead. The below uses the peak names that appear on most maps; the competing appellations assigned by the FA parties are Panther Peak for Mesahchie, Mt Holyoke for Katsuk, and Gendarmes Peak for Kimtah.

On Saturday eze and I skied the Katsuk Glacier from the 8200' Katsuk--Mesahchie col, a scenic spot to take a nap. A snowy ramp enabled us to ski the initial semi-steep portion near the top. We continued on fun-turning snow for an entertaining 3000'+ ski into the Panther Creek basin. We then connected with compadres to take a hot lap on the western flanks of Kitling; the pleasant environment was conducive to pre- and apres-ski celebrations.

On Sunday, eze, Jesse, Will, Reed and I climbed and skied the Mesahchie Icefall couloir (first descent link), continuing down again ~3000' into the Panther Cr basin. It would be great to catch this line with powdery snow, but we managed/enjoyed the spring conditions we found.

Saturday, eze on initial descent of Katsuk Gl, taken from col. The south face of Jack Mtn beckons in the background.

About to shoot the crux, Kimtah, southern Pickets, etc. in background:


In the background of this pic is the small rock band we skied through, just below the col:

Sunday: Some shots of climbing and skiing the Mesahchie Icefall couloir. The couloir is relatively short but cool feature, and pretty steep. (From a safe waiting spot tucked behind a buttress, it was not possible to safely get pics looking up at folks skiing the steep bit.) 

Skinning up the filled-in icefall:


This shot courtesy of Reed. The couloir hovers above.

Climbing the couloir:


I was 'chosen' to test the still-frozen waters:


With a bit more time, this part might have skied more softly.

(The above photo and the next two are courtesy of Will.)

eze was next:


A bit lower, on the Icefall:


Corn upon exiting icefall to mellower glacier:


Lower down the Mesahchie Glacier:


(Will's photo again.)

Fun trip and thanks for the TR Prof. Hedo!  Lots of good stuff back there

Mesahchie Icefall Coulior


The line

Nice one, dudes!

My brother Carl and I did the first ascent of what we dubbed the Mesahchie Icefall Couloir in mid-September 1984. We climbed a few short ice pitches in the icefall and had a couple of smooth 45-degree ice pitches in the couloir.

Based on your photos, it looks like there's no icefall anymore and the ice couloir probably doesn't exist in September. Sigh.

Hey Lowell, here's a photo for ya from a few years ago from Katsuk


Love the history in that register!  And I love everything about this TR....so much good skiing you guys did in a weekend (returning to the road each day?).  Impressive!

Thanks for the additional context Lowell (and kjohnson). The title "Icefall" now appears dated, but somehow "Mesahchie Residual Snowfield Couloir" or "...shrunken Glacier remnant couloir" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Yeah Jason the touring around there is pretty spectacular. I should have mentioned that we enjoyed camping on the N side of Ragged Ridge -- wouldn't want to stack daytrips back there...possible, but not optimal.

Folks with the original (1977) edition of "Green Fred" may have read his comment about Ragged Ridge on p. 313: "Most of the peaks are still relatively unvisited in comparison to similar areas in the range." That was catnip for my group, and we did a bunch of trips back there in the following years. Generally never saw any people or tracks. Times change!

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2021-05-19 05:01:46