Tatoosh Environs

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by eatskisleep on 1/24/21 10:23am

Took advantage of a sunny forecast and low danger to explore more of the tatoosh range. Gearing up in the parking lot I watched at least 10-12 skiers boot up the face to the road; it was busy at the park. The skin track up to the castle saddle was pretty straightforward; a few tricky spots with the ice, but didn't use ski crampons. There was 2-4" of very low density snow on top, with large surface hoar forming on open faces. The kind of snow you worry about when new snow falls on top of it...

In order to escape some of the crowds, we climbed most of the way up the south side of castle, opting not to summit due to the rapidly warming snow on that aspect. We descended about 1200' finding a weird combination of breakable crust with surface hoar that was quickly softening in the sun. Safe to say, it didn't ski GREAT, but manageable. I triggered a small (D1) wet loose on a convexity that traveled about 150' but quite slowly. Looking around elsewhere in the basin we could see evidence of large glide avalanches, and very large (D3) wet loose slides that had travelled 1000+ ft and left significant debris piles.

Ski crampons were useful climbing back out of the basin, due to the strange snow combination and the propensity for the now wetted out new snow to slide right off the firm crust beneath. We skinned back up to the pass on the ridge between castle and foss, and picked our way down through the cliff bands that guard this basin (5500'). This north side had stayed cold all day, and the new snow was still in great condition. Best turns of the day were on the lower angle slopes beneath the above-mentioned cliff bands. 


D1 wet loose


Glide cracks


the goods

looking south back into foss-castle saddle basin


we found a way through the cliffs on lookers right of the image, on a northwest facing ramp.

Looks like a fun zone. 

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2021-01-24 18:23:46