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November 12, 2001, Washington Pass

WA Cascades East Slopes North
Posted by ema on 9/16/02 10:47am
Warm and raining in Bellingham, rain in Sedro Wooley, in Concrete, in Marblemount and up the North Cascades Highway over the passes until, by some miracle of microclime, it started snowing just past Washington Pass down to the hairpin turn. Me and a carload of mostly novice snowshoers climbed from the highway up towards the spires in astonishingly heavy, unconsolidated slop, turning around after 1200 feet or so. Wildly exaggerated weighting and unweighting, combined with loud grunting and a certain amount of self-talk, helped me link some reasonable turns until we reached the lower section. There, a steep, narrow gully, with shallow snow barely covering invisible rocks stripped me of my dignity and left me gibbering nonsensically. Oh yes, it was ugly; for a short time my very survival was in question.

Meanwhile, my snowshoeing friends alternately butt-glissaded, plunge-stepped and staggered somewhat drunkenly down through the muck, sometimes overtaking me and sometimes falling behind. Eventually we broke out into the open slopes above the highway and I salvaged a last few faltering turns, skiing directly to the passenger door of my van. We all clambered grinning into our seats, instantly steaming all the windows opaque, and drove back up to the pass....where it started raining again.

Only about 18 inches of snow left at the hairpin, maybe 2 feet up above, with rain in the forecast. Not looking good, nosir, although I guess it could be worse; it could be the Wasatch, where they have not been skiing at all these past five weeks.



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2002-09-16 17:47:25