We had big plans. I can't say they were wise plans, but who am I to temp Ross's madness by saying, "No, go for it!" I was game, he was game and so we met in Seattle late. We were at the trailhead by mid morning. We planned two days and the northwest face. But plans are made to be changed. Even creatures of tested fate know when the cards are dealt and it's time to fold.

I'd joined Ross on a few other misguided exploratory trips prior to this one. They involved mostly hiking, schwacking and little in the way of bonafide skiing. How conceited are we? Enough that is to take even bigger bites and chew with our mouths open. Let's reiterate the plan and add in the kick. Needless to say, I forgot to read the Becky description, but I'm always one to take a gander and think, "One day." The Northwest Face would provide a few surprises and offer little in the way of give and take.


Rockin' Ross ready to rumble the jungle.


We skinned mellow slopes along the trail. We soon found ourselves going too high. As such, we dropped and crossed a large lake. Once across, we ascended to Maple Pass. We left copious amounts of sweet splattered on the snow. It was a warm day and only getting warmer.

From the pass there is a long traverse below overhanging cliffs. You drop maybe 300ft here before again making another climb. This time we ascended another 1500 to 2000ft to camp. We laid our packs down and enjoyed the remainder of the day. Ross fired the stove up and we had some grub. After a bit we decided to climb higher and make camp in one of the last island tree clumps above. Again, we fired the stove up and ate.


That's Black Peak ahead...and err Ross and his red helmet and yellow shovel, but what I really want is his orange skis.


A closer look.


Now we're gettin' to business.


Once upon a time, there was this goblin and it ate all my food. And now, I have to go back and get more.


Still rather hopeful, we awoke to another stupendous day. We left camp for the col beneath the northeast face. I led the lower portion before Ross surpassed me and led the way to the col. With Ross above, I yelled, "So...?" A common phrase that usually spurs a "I don't know!" Not a reaction that builds confidence. First reactions usually entail poor options and meager opportunity. Looking down I could see some rocks and some very tight couloirs. We both agreed we could get down, but up was a matter of opinion and both ours hinted at no. I made some half hearted attempts to ski down, but my commitment wasn't sewn into my resolve. I spewed, "I don't knows." We called it due to the deep unconsolidated snow, took some photos, and with tails between hightailed for the south side.


And then there was light.


An early morning run to the sun powder castle.




Now who's your mama. Yea, you know you're not worthy. Run now little children. I'll have some cookies later.


Back at camp we dropped the pickets, screws, axes, and any other nonessential items. With light weights on our pack, we chased another group ahead. One individual seemed stuck on a 40 degree slope that bypassed the col. We couldn't understand how he could sit there for half an hour. Another half saw us at the pass. Another hour or more saw us near the summit. Both Ross and I stared down the North side and contemplated. One thing we saw for sure is that any skiing would be suicidal under these conditions. Over the present year little snow had fallen North and East of the crest. As a result, we found little to edge on. I'm apt to think that this is only a good climb.


Instead of nice weather down south, we found some snow to tan our tempers with the cool chill of white sand.


Ross takin' charge.


Are you still takin' photos?


We enjoyed the top without going to the true summit. I'd save it for a more worthy occasion I guess. In all actuality though, we left our whippets further down and the final few feet required a traverse on a steep exposed snow slope. As such, lunch was served on the shoulder of success. We felt honored and the skiing looked favorable. Views were viewed in all directions and future excursions caressed our minds and plans for later in the year seemed inevitable.


I'm not lookin' at Ross.


We down climbed some rock and then with our skis adorned, we tackled the south face. It was rather moderate, but we searched for interesting features. There were some nice couloirs and interlaced rocks along the way. As soon as were found it convenient we rolled over the ridge and skied some pleasantly steep slopes on the east side as seen from the lake. Globulous snow high jacked our balance and speed. We sat in the rear and rode the ride to camp, no matter how pestilent the snow.


My camera decided to give me some first class heart ache at this point.


Ross roaming the trees like the elk. Roam hither! Sally forth? To the car we gallop.


Our camp was quickly packed up. We made the ski back to Maple Pass without having to use skins thanks to the sticky snow. We bombed to the car from the pass. I remember the ski back taking very little time at all. Of course I undershot the cars and ended up hiking up the road a spell. There were a few curious looks and one comment even from a few teenagers. It went something like, "Are you skiing over the pass." My answer of course was a grin. Two nice ladies were at the parking lot. We wowed over them and sadly watched their car drive away.

This was a nice weekend. I expect to find myself around Black Peak and Rainy Pass again in the future. I'm sure Ross thinks he has some unfinished business. I may join of course, if only to watch.


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