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May 11, 2003, Chinook Loop

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by ron j on 5/13/03 6:47am
Reports were conflicted on the opening of Chinook Pass, so to be in the safe side we chose to do our "over the top" tour.  Kam, Ingrid, Kelvin, Jonathan (Jeff's buddy, from Boston and an occasional participant in our tours when he is "in area, on business" with Jeff's Gapermobile? [a nice dodge suv]) Jeanette and your truly converged on Buzzy's in Greenwater for breakfast and figuring out our the car shuttle arrangements for our tour.
It started at the site of the old Cayuse Ski Area, then up past the first road hairpin and direct up to the south summit of Naches... then down the south slope and around the east side to the Chinook Pass summit; up and over Yakima saddle and back down to hwy 410 north of Cayuse. Sweeeeeet corn was there to be harvested on several aspects.  By early afternoon some sun soaked slopes would shirk our weight and let the heavier ones down (like yours truly >:().  Shaded snow in the trees was bomb proof with sweet corn mixed with moss on top for a change in texturing for skiing (and head planting, which I did more than once).  Lots of debris from prior days' wet slides on south aspects.  Much of our day was overcast so we were spared much of the solar heating. The south face of Yakima saddle was the only place we had any concerns for avy danger... it had been in and out of the sun all morning, is steep enough to slide regularly and the upper, hard slab was considering becoming unstable and things were rotten below that.
Kam did a great lead up that pitch picking terrain that mitigated our exposure to next to nil.  His extensive avy training comes in real handy at times.
It's also cool to have Kam along as he shoots really neat vidy's. check out the one from this trip at:  http://www.leang.com/kam/gallery/movies/

Here's a shot of most of the crew relaxing back on Hwy 410 while waiting for the car shuttle.

More pics of the trip are at: http://groups.msn.com/WildHeartsSkiing/chinookloop51103.msnw
Ahhhhhh, and what a great tour that was  ;D

Yes indeed, what a great tour with such fun-loving yet safety conscious companions!  And Ron's GPS navigation had us emerge from a fairly dense forest exactly where we'd left the Gapermobile - perfection.  Thanks everyone for such a wondering outing!  (Though I'm still trying to figure out the reason for Jeanette's user name, as well as how Ingrid can possibly put her skins *on* without taking off her skis...)

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ron j
2003-05-13 13:47:28