Mt Logan, Banded Glacier Ski

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22-23 April 2006

Mt Logan and Banded Glacier Mt Logan and the Banded Glacier

Mt Logan is a large, sprawling Washington niner. Of the climbing routes established on the peak, the Banded Glacier seemed like the best to ski. I first considered skiing it in March of 2005. No matter how you approach it, it's a long way.

Somehow, I convinced Dave and Cyril to give it a go with me in March during the horrible winter of 2004-2005. Looking at the map, it seemed simple enough to do in a day. Nine miles to Junction Camp, followed by three miles before leaving the trail, then an easy 2k vert ramble up steep old growth to the lake. Another 2.5k up alpine slopes and a small, nameless glacier to the notch leading over the ridge to the Banded Glacier, a small drop, and finally 2k to the summit of Mt Logan. Doesn't that sound easy?

I was unaware, or to stupid to care, that the bridge over Thunder Creek had been destroyed. We forded Thunder Creek with lovely, cold glacier-fed water caressing our thighs. We hiked something like five miles up the trail before a barrage of mixed rain and snow convinced us to stop. I burrowed into my bivy bag and huddled in a fetal position until dawn. We returned to Colonial Creek Campground early the next morning, then promptly hit the highway and drove the additional distance to Washington Pass, where we skied powder.

fishmo Josh approaches up Fisher Creek on skis.

I always managed to find a Sancho Panza amongst my friends for the next three attempts until we finally nailed the trip in two days as a group of eight.

The two-day summit sprint certainly wouldn't have been possible without all the knowledge I'd obtained on many futile attempts. Credit should go to Dave Coleman for a nice thirty mile hike carrying skis, which yielded zero skiing, but allowed us to discover the proper spot to head for the high lake. Jason Hummel also gets honorable mention for a foray from Easy Pass that saw us all the way to the ridge above the Banded Glacier, albeit at a decidedly bad spot, that helped me understand how to approach the correct notch in the ridge. I should salute Ross Peritore for approaching all the way to the high lake with Dave and me, just to sleep all day before the deproach while Dave and I viewed the Banded Glacier in shabby condition and skied 2.5k of very nice powder.

Supposedly, the last grizzly in the Cascades was killed in the Fisher Creek drainage way back when. We saw some bear cub tracks on the approach.

POSER Jason and Pete on the summit of Mt Logan

Banded ripper Casey works on cutting a slab from the Banded Glacier.

Without these previous great efforts, I probably wouldn't have gotten us to a camp at the high lake just before sunset without a hitch. Even more importantly, we wouldn't have found the notch over the ridge to the Banded Glacier in the dark before dawn. It felt wonderful to integrate my past follies into one great success. The views of Goode from the summit ridge were magnificent.

The best quality of this route is the scenery, but the skiing was also excellent. There were some localized windslabs hiding in the excellent powder snow on the Banded Glacier. The skiing above camp was quite nice, with some high-speed turns in creamy corn snow.

Nota bene: climbing routes and skiing routes really ought to be two very different things. But it is also worth noting that the views from Logan are some of the best in the Cascades.

Parlay: Five days later, Casey and I put our fortified fitness to good use on Mount Rainier's Liberty Ridge.

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Névé: French for a great place to play