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May 3-4, 2002, Cascade Pass

WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
Posted by ema on 9/9/02 9:31am
The Cascade River road was drivable to mile marker 18. Trees across the road forced a 5-mile hike/ski approach to the summer parking lot. The next mile was bare gravel, but beyond mile marker 19 snow on the road permitted skiing punctuated by short hikes carrying skis. Some hikes were somewhat extensive but never so long as to be anything more than a nuisance.

Avalanche activity over the course of the winter has been impressive. One large slide coming down from the south side of the river, just west of Roush Creek, swept all the way across the valley pulverizing trees on the north side of the road. It left a mound of snow and debris 40' high over the N. Fork which the river has carved a tunnel under. Most visible to summer visitors will be the damage near Midas Creek. I am guessing here because the avalanches have more opened up the drainage more completely than a clear cut with the avalanche fan extending for about 200 meters by the road leaving the area unrecognizable. One redeeming feature would be the destruction of the sign denoting the requirement for the NW Forest Pass although one would have to think that its replacement would be a very high priority for the road cruising bureaucrats.

Dan H. and I intended to bivy at the parking lot at the end of the Cascade River road on Friday night and ski Sahale Arm early on Saturday. Recent avalanche activity from the Triplets, extending across the approach to Cascade Pass, and spontaneous releases from the Sahale side were enough to convince us to conclude the tour at that point. I was awakened three times during the night by avalanches. Two coming from Johannesburg carried little information because it can release from there even when conditions are quite stable. However, the third came from the direction of Cascade Pass. That, along with the fact that it was snowing, relatively warm and visibility was down to about 100' iced our decision not to proceed any higher.

Dan was able to salvage some fun out of the trip by mountain biking at breakneck speeds down the road until his hands were too cold to hang on to his handlebars.

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2002-09-09 16:31:36