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Soggy and Crispy on McClellan Butte

WA Snoqualmie Pass
Posted by skistache on 1/30/23 8:51am

The last weekend of January had a forecast that showed the 2 extreme ends of low avvy risk means in the Cascades region. I decided to use the soupy conditions on Saturday to tackle McClellan Butte. Managed to drive the increasingly rough service road up to the hairpin at 2100ft, where snow was nearly consistent enough to skin from the car. I found an older skin track below the main couloir, but it diverged climbers right around the entrance to the main chutes. The bottom of the chutes below the butte was predictably soggy, transitioning to a thin crust over mostly dry snow around 4000 feet. This was where I had to transition to booting, as the couloir became too steep and tight for a skintrack. Frustratingly, this crust was the worst of both worlds, and it was too thin to fully support climbing or use of an ice axe, but too thick to easily penetrate with ski poles or wade through, and the last thousand feet were a tedious wallow. 

The downhill was more of the same- tantalizingly soft powder gave way to breakable crust during turns, and avvy debris in the couloir slowed down the turns. The best skiing was the springlike wet pow below 3500 ft. 

A good workout, and an undeniably Cascadian tour. 



The top


Tiny little bit of views


Thick and murky down low

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2023-01-30 16:51:13