Sahale Good Snow Hunting

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DonJuanPakistan
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Sahale Good Snow Hunting

Post by DonJuanPakistan » Mon May 11, 2015 2:39 pm

Cruisey, dreamy mission up Sahale Arm last week with my Chilean sister Soledad de las Nieves Diaz. Pushed and rode laden bicycles from the Eldorado gate. Sole crushed it for her first Cascadian mission, and I could tell from how she packed her gear into her ridiculously small pack to the pajama bottoms that she was gonna be fine. We made it to the parking lot, stashed the bicis, and made the short bush crossing to snow.

Lots of stops for sunshine and water, but consistently easy travel in between. Things took a turn for the worse, when skinning the flat/downhill upon reaching the arm, the wing of one toe piece on my Plum Race 165s sheared off. Pretty catastrophic-looking failure. We were near enough to the campsite that I continued on foot, planning to figure it out that night.

Debated between a gravelly, flat piece of dry ground or a snow camp in a small depression for our tent platform. We were glad we chose the latter and built cozy shelter behind well-positioned walls, when, after an epic sunset and calm evening, a consistent and impressive wind roared out of the west through the night. It was peaceful again in the morning, but we took a casual pace as the lingering breeze seemed to be keeping snow conditions cold. I decided to just go on foot up Sahale with my skis on my back, and attempt the best repair possible at the top as whatever I rigged would likely only be good for one use. Sole skinned and I 'ponned. We had an epic lunch at a snow bench under the summit pyramid, marveling at our good fortune and the tremendous scale of our surroundings. Leaving all our gear at the bench besides crampons and an axe each, we soloed up the remaining snow pitch and rock step to the summit. Tick! The car virtually visible impossibly far down past the base of Johannesburg in the verdant depths of the Cascade River Valley.

Quick and easy downclimb back to the bench at it was repair time. I put my liner on my foot and wedged the shell in the binding. Some bailing wire to tension it down. A piece of yachting twine from Pucón for good luck. Wraps and wraps of electrical tape. And that was it. Looked and felt pretty good. Slid my liner-clad foot into the shell which was now hopefully fixed to the ski for the duration of the descent, to the end of snowline deep, deep in the valley below.

I cut the upper slopes and then sent Sole. "I think we might be in for something special," I told her as she skied past. Not much more to say. Damn fine corn. I skied tentatively, weighting my good binding and generally limping my way down. But never was the snow grabby or unpredictable, just a blank, unmarred white canvas rolling away eternally, leading us in swooping arcs back towards our pockmark of a cache on the broad back of the lower arm. We'd look back and couldn't see our tracks. It was akin to skiing on ball bearings. The slopes above Doubtful Lake were fantastic, the rolling slope as we neared camp offered hallucinogenic panoramas of untold grandeur. We never saw another soul.

We recollected camp, which we had packed that morning, and got a move on, not wanting to waste any time getting to the lower slopes. The pitch from the arm down to Cascade Pass was too warm. But the route from the pass to the very end of the snow gifted us with another few thousand feet of great skiing. The repair seemed fine, and I wondered if I should have shredded just a liiiiittle bit harder. I sawed off the rigging with my pocket knife, as now I needed my boot for walking again, and we schwacked the remaining quarter mile to the parking lot.

More sunbathing in the grass by the picnic tables there at the parking lot, just totally stoked out and thankful for such an enthralling ski. Dozing off beneath the imposing nordwand of Johannesburg , waking with a guilty feeling, like this is no place to take a nap with your shoes off. Back on the bikes down down down we went, gravity insisting on us descending even further down, down into the pacific basin.

We reached the parking lot and loaded up, and as we drove off I wondered, "where does the run end?" Was it arriving at snow's end? To the car? I popped it into neutral and we rolled on, stopping to drink from whatever river we felt like. Eventually, on the spur to Darrington, we stopped to wash off at a beach on the Sauk River. The emerald water moved past without hurry. I planted a driftwood pole in the sunshine-warmed sand, and then, I felt as though we had crossed the finish line.

And then we drove on towards Marysville.


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skykilo
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Re: Sahale Good Snow Hunting

Post by skykilo » Mon May 11, 2015 5:33 pm

I had this same catastrophic failure while actually making a turn on some hard frozen snow and it sucked! Not cool, mang!

Everything else sounds dreamy.

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huevón
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Re: Sahale Good Snow Hunting

Post by huevón » Tue May 12, 2015 9:30 am

This reads like a timeless Cascade Classic. ±35 yrs, or more?

ryanl
Posts: 233
Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2010 10:06 pm

Re: Sahale Good Snow Hunting

Post by ryanl » Thu May 14, 2015 1:23 pm

The end of a trip is as nebulous as its beginning. sounds like a perfect day

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