October in the Cascades offers Indian summers and big winter storms often serving up deep pow followed by large floods, not so this year. My earliest ski tour started October 2nd with a stop at Pro Ski Seattle to rally a partner, Adam obliged. The next morning at O’dark thirty saw us hitting the Starbucks drive thru on the way north to Mt Baker, aka Komo Kulshan. ‘The White Watcher’ serves up 7,000’ of South facing glaciated terrain and was the only big mountain not affected by the government shutdown. Most people stared lustfully at Mt Rainier cursing Ted Cruz for closing the national parks leaving all that new snow untouched for future skiers.
We arrived 2 hours later at the Railroad Grade trailhead and began our 1-hour approach to the snowline recently deposited at 4,400’ in a storm forecasted to dump 10-13’! Trust but verify proved a good mantra as we put on our ski boots and skins to a dense 2’ of new and skinned up the moraine enjoying a windless blue bird day with only two other riders on the mountain.
We traveled onto the glacier at 6,000’ weaving between open crevasses that stretched out over 20’ wide from this past warm, dry summer. Eventually we topped out on a crevassed dome at 7,000’ as the clouds rolled in. Skins were ripped, heels locked down and off we went, passing wide cracks under the watchful gaze of Kulshan. We left only our tracks on the glacier as we skied down, leap frogging our way back to the meadow.
Adam raved about the sublime beauty of our backyard which made me feel good about letting him brake trail the whole way.
Fresh beer and chips at the car by 4 made us feel like champs as both our wives and daughters would see us soon enough for a bedtime story about the ‘White Watcher.’
Photo 5-Glacier sandwich with fresh snow on top
Photo 6-The way home, glacier exit @6,000″
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