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Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Okay, sorry this is a week late for those of you strongly desiring to know snowpack conditions.  Ridge/summit cornices are anywhere from 1 to 4 meters thick through 6,000' in the upper Stilly/western North Cascades.  Snow generally starts at 4000', lower on N slopes.  The snow is some of the best climbing snow I can remember:  firm from the get-go with a very narrow zone of punching through (minimal unpleasantness).
I went to Mount Dickerman as much to maintain physical and mountaineering chops as anything, though I knew I'd have the summit to myself if I spent the night, and the nice snowpack would afford a flat camp *right at the summit*.  How often has anyone ever spent the night literally at the top of a mountain?  I can assure you that in the North Cascades, most summits leave one gripping the rock, water ice or snow, aware that a single misstep can lead to a bad day.
I knew there'd be dozens of people there, thus making route-finding a non-issue.  As it worked out, there were no less than 30 people on the trail, and most made the summit.  Most from the Seattle area, and none aware this amazing place, the headwaters of a principal regional river, is unrecognized with any protective designation other than "roadless".  I'm sure you will find these pictures reflect something a bit more.
A number of us conservationists envision this area for inclusion in existing USFS Wilderness, and the sooner the better.
Funny anecdote:  a few people puzzled at why I would spend the night in the snow when it was so quick to descend and head on back to the comforts of the big city.  One guy I saw on my way out said  "Wow, they have camping at the summit now?".
I responded with something about not knowing of "they", but the snow had provided a wonderful flat area for the tent with about 30 seconds of grooming.  It's great to see people enjoying life in the PacNW, I just hope they recognize the biggest value of the land is the role it serves in water creation and distribution.
I would hope the reasons for spending the night are self-evident from the photos (and doesn't include another highlight, ISS brighter than I've ever seen, and I've seen it a hundred times or more--wonder if that's due to recent reboost).

Get out and explore your planet (maybe some others too).  I am so thankful for the opportunity and ability to do just that every day.

1 comment:

Dan McShane said...

Sounds like a great night!