Monday, February 6, 2012

Steeple Rock

Though the sun decided to shine it's light, for the next ten days. We decided that the intense rays would soften the snow pack into great spring corn conditions.  We headed out around 10:30 in the morning and toured out the Obstruction Point road.  The road cruises the ridge 8 miles out to said point, along the way it navigates a few peaks that were all ripe with great open slopes. 

We skinned to the first major peak, 2 miles out called Steeple Rock, it was a huge rock outcropping with lines on every aspect.  The first upski we attempted was along the lookers-left side of a south by south west slope.  As we switchbacked up the face the increasing slope angle proved too much for our skins and the transitions began.  After digging out a  butt "hole" so I could sit, the nerves settled and I was a able to take in the views of the Olympic mountains. Mount Olympus was shining brightly with the full sunshine illuminating its bowls and gullies from above.  Apparently it is an 18 hour hike through the rainforests before you even reach the snow to begin your upski.  The Gray Jays were chirping and fluttering from tree to tree, suddenly we were all surrounded by Jays, looking for possible food.  The ride down was not so great on the face but as we head to the more southerly facing area it softened up and we all had a great run over the road and a few hundred yards below it. 

Lily and Hannah decided that they would each find their own way up the other side of the rock outcropping.  Seth and I proceeded back up the road to gain the southeast ridge which looked like a mellow climb.  We were rewarded with finding long low angled tree runs that would be great in fresh pow day or even during a storm.  A great piece of beta to be stored for later use.  We got to the large shale summit and began calling for the girls.  Soon Lily emerged from the trees and was a little shaken at the steep icy climb she just endured.  I removed my skis and hiked over the ridge to find Hannah and there she was, skis on her back and cursing herself for how hard it was to bootpack up that slope.  From the saddle we got to see the north and west aspect as well as the snowy caps of the cascades.  Especially the majestic volcanoes of Mount Baker and Glacier Peak reaching unbelievably high into the sky. 

After the amazing views we were being treated to, we all hiked up to the highest part of the snowpack and dropped into another crunchy face that with decreasing angle became more buttery and fun. 

The next hike up was a free for all to the road and a mellow hike back towards the car but to make it fun Lilly decided she would gain about 300 vertical feet so we could ride the road and get a "third" lap in.  By far the most fun lap.  It was a great way to earn our "Never Doubt The Ridge" sticker and since nothing else happened on February 5th that mattered, it's a great way to remember the Olympics and suppress what ever may have happened that night.

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