Mt Goode, East Face Ski Descent

23-24 May 2005

vertiginous view up Mt Gooode from North Fork Bridge Creek Mt Goode from North Fork Bridge Creek. We skied from the notch between the summit and the false summit on the left, which is 5,300+ vertical feet above the photographer (me).

Ross and I decided to use the finally-improving weather and make a two-day trip to Mt Goode. We spent much of the very stormy, wintry week prior to the trip debating just how much of a rain shadow Goode gets from all the big peaks to its west. The truth is neither of us knew, but we decided to give it a go. One thing was certain: I wanted to climb the route before it got any sun.

We didn't leave Seattle too early; we got to Bridge Creek Campground about ten in the morning. Half an hour packing and we began a splendid hike. We both thoroughly enjoyed our fourteen-mile hike on a beautiful, partly-cloudy day in the mountains. The hike is quite long but we were entertained with copious bear scat and my antics after incurring the wrath of an ant colony. It's a bad idea to set all your gear on top of a huge bed of ants.

There are many open views along the Bridge Creek Trail. It leaves quite an impression to see a mountain in a basin, hike further and see a whole mess of mountains, and keep hiking until those mountains are no longer visible. Repeat this fascinating process several times and you too could stand four miles up the North Fork of Bridge Creek, gazing across the creek and getting whiplash from constantly jerking your head to get another view at the monstrosity towering more than a mile above you. The monstrosity is properly known as Mt Goode.

NF Bridge Creek break Ross takes a break.

Ross takes another break.

NF Bridge Creek loitering It almost seems as if...

mountain bum ...all we do is loiter and take photos.

Memaloose Ridge The view of Memaloose Ridge from North Fork Bridge Creek. There's some good skiing up there too.

We found ourselves pondering the north side of Mt Goode at four in the afternoon. It's always deceptive to look up so much vertical relief. We hiked avy debris across the North Fork and followed fields of debris to a waterfall and some shelves to bypass the lower cliffs. The hanging glacier looked very small from below, but it is more respectable than foreshortening would have it. We camped next to the highest tree we could find, a little below 5,000'. It was a very pleasant night to bivy.

We shook ourselves from slumber at 2 am. It was cold, but not too cold; it is late May after all. We crunched over crust that mostly supported our weight, up snowy slopes to slabby rockbands below the glacier. The icefall at the bottom of the glacier was nicely filled with small amounts of new snow. The snow on the glacier was fresh yet crusty, so it took us no time to reach the bergschrund below our route.

view from the notch The red arrow is the avalanche debris bridge over the North Fork; it is 5,300 vertical feet below us.

The goal was to climb and ski the snowfield-supporting steep, protected faces between the SE summit and the true summit. The big runnel system that marks the intersection of the faces leads directly to an 8,600 foot notch. It's 600 feet below the true summit, but it's still more than a full vertical mile above the valley floor.

To our astonishment, there was a foot of cold, new powder up almost all of the 2,000 vertical feet from the bergschrund to the notch. It must not have received any sun the day of our approach. We were able to keep the climbing exertion somewhat reasonable by finding nice, icy runnel snow to climb. The sun just crested the horizon as we were making our way above the bergschrund. We hurried up the route as much as possible; I don't like to be climbing these big steep routes with the sun hitting fresh snow. It was all right though; we hit the notch close to 8 am.

Summit considerations were immediately discarded, as we had a big descent we needed to ski before it turned into a death trap. Goode is so massive and craggy, I simply must return to climb it. After ample enjoyment of the views, along with cursing of the few clouds that floated by us, we skied after 9 am.

Perfect powder would kiss our faces with every turn. I might have more to say about the steep, sustained nature of the route were it not for the pacifying powder. We stuck to the shaded, northwest-facing slopes on skier's right of the runnel as much as possible. Our logic was justified when huge bombs started crashing off the sun-washed, northeast-facing cliffs opposite us. After a handful of big wet slides in rapid succesion, we negotiated the runnels and hopped the bergschrund at the bottom one at a time.

first tracks on goode That's good snow.

ski sick spine lines Ross and I just returned from skiing the Peruvian Andes. No wait, that's just another North Cascades behemoth.

SkiSickness "Are you sure you can ski the sick stuff on that lightweight gear?"-Another Hummel Gem

tele turn steep powder No further comments

The snow on the glacier went from corn to wet spring mush. We negotiated the rock bands and skied some grabby slop, happy with 4,200 vertical feet of skiing in this "terrible year." We made a rappel next to a waterfall, did some scrambling, then we could have skied avalanche remnants across the North Fork if we weren't so keyed to hike. I was practically skiing in my shoes, sliding from stride to stride like I was on a nice cross country track.

ski Goode Glacier Ross skis the Goode Glacier.

steep tracks Here is the view of the route with our tracks from below the bergschrund.

The fourteen-mile exit hike went quickly, but it was very painful. Both Ross and I experienced new levels of shoulder mutilation. Luckily I can walk and carry stuff just fine today, so now I'm off to Los Alamos.

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