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|Weather||Crystal Clear with nary a cloud|
|TrailConditions||Dry with snow patches|
|Mailed to WacList|| |
A spring contingent of the WAC tele harem (Connie, Shauna, & Cynthia) hit the slopes again last Saturday, together with some of my friends from the Washington Ski Touring Club (of which we were all members in as it turned out) for a total of nine. The road to Sunrise opened up last Friday and we were anxious to check out the slopes of Burroughs Mountain(s). The ranger had reported 3’ of snow at Sunrise and we concluded that he was measuring the plowed piles of snow in the parking lot, rather than the snow cover. We put our skis on our packs and booted up the trail to the intersection of Fremont Lookout trail. |
We decided to warm up on the NE facing slope of Burroughs, having passed up the north chutes along the trail because of their steepness and rock fall garnish and felt that they were better skied at the end of the day. After our first lunch break, we spent a nice time climbing up and skiing down, cutting nice turns through the only minor sun cups and old rain runnels. Those of us with patterned bases were able to forego the skins for the day, making the ascents more convenient, albeit at a shallower angle. After our second lunch break, I volunteered to scramble over the ridge to see if we could make the next snow patch and trail without having to tromp on any fragile alpine tundra or descend back below the ridge and hike back up. I radioed back to the group to take the long way around. It was possible to delicately hopscotch on the rocks, however doing so would bring the group to the large signs that stated in no uncertain terms not to leave the trail because of the damage it would cause. That, and the presence of two friendly rangers monitoring the scene. I napped briefly in the sun while the rest went down and around. One of our party skiing in old double leather boots developed some bad blisters, and blister taping being one of my talents, I proceeded to tape the heck out of her heels in order for her to continue skiing. Much to my surprise (and her delight) it worked pretty well.
Up until this point, we saw no other skiers of any kind, which really surprised us considering how extraordinarily beautiful the day was, and the good quality of skiing. We did end up chatting with a pair of other tele skiers and later a group of randonee skier that had gone much farther in than us. We kicked steps up to the top of the steepest slope we could find and had a great time. This slope had the unusual challenge of being bisected by a hiking trail hewn out of the snow as we watched, by two dedicated rangers gamely shoveling in the glaring sunshine while we cut up the slope above and below them.
As the day wore on, we ended up congregating at the bottom of the slope for lunch break 3, at were joined by large flies that hovered with a loud buzz just like a Harrier jump jet, but mercifully weren’t of the biting variety.
For the return, we opted to take the low trail back to the parking lot, in lieu of skiing the north chutes. The steep climb back up to the trail was a significant disincentive. The low trail followed the drainage to east and was snow covered for about 2/3rds of the way, at least for those of us who were willing to pop our skis off and on and gingerly pick our way through the bare spots. Back up at the parking lot, we were greeted by one of the skiers that we had talked to on the way out from the Tacoma Mountaineers. As each of us hit the hard hot pavement, he handed us an ice-cold slice of pineapple. Never have I experienced a treat so refreshing after hiking back up a dusty path in plastic ski boots.
To the stares of all the tourists from the Midwest who thought that we had lost our minds carrying skis in June, we changed clothes and did the usual parking lot rehydration and re-carbing routine. The visibility was crystal clear and we could see tracks going up from Camp Sherman all the way to the skyline. There is still skiing to be had at Sunrise, though I would imagine it will get pretty marginal very soon with all this sun we have been having.