Scott, Leyland and I decided to head up mountaineers creek on 1-20-15. Leyland had to be back that night, while Scott and I were going to stay overnight and bag a few lines. I picked up Scott and his sled to avoid an extra 4 miles of approach (and exit) and we reached the trailhead around 7:30am. Leyland thought he would be back to his car by dark....Moutaineers creek had other plans....
We made good time up the summer trail until it came time to cross the creek. Then it became evident that the lack of low elevation snow was going to make for a challenging approach. We found our way across the creek after many bridge scoutings, and Leyland used the Stewart Stilt technique, while Scott was utilizing the Cascade Crawl across another bridge simultaneously. When it was my turn, I fell in while throwing Scotts board across to him, but I wasn't too wet so we continued on.
After crossing the creek, we battled fallen trees, slide alder, boulder fields, and about every other challenge that make the Cascades a special place to tour. We reached our camp around 3pm and decided to try and ride Sherpas North West couloir with Leyland that afternnon before dark.
We made it up the apron to the base of the couloir and it got dark. So we rode the apron back to camp, and Leyland began his long journey home. The snow was soft, but had a crust underneath from the rain event, that got deeper as we got higher. Scott and I in the meantime set up a superb camp under a boulder, dried our gear, cooked and got toasty by the fire.
In the morning we awoke and started another fire, cooked breakfast, and had grand plans of riding the NW couloir, (the approach already had a skintrack and boot pack) then coming for an early lunch, and picking off another couloir or two....the mountain had other plans.
It was a little windy overnight and our skintrack was mostly filled in, and it had formed pockets of thin windslab in the couloir. This was made for a long and deep ascent. The couloir is a sustained 45 to 50+ degrees the whole way and at points we were waist deep and climbed above the rain crust. Even with me leading with verts, we didn't top out until 2pm.
We decided to try and summit Sherpa peak, since we were only 400' -from the summit, but neither of us had crampons, and it got a little too icy for comfort in the last 100". So we down climbed and rode the couloir we had come for.
It was a cautious decent with the pockets of windslab, but mostly soft and manageable. The choke was sluffed to the bed surface so it got a little dicey for a minute, but all in all a very fun run.
We broke camp, and started on our exit, following Leylands skintrack from the night before, just to make sure he made it out OK. It was just as bad as our route on the way in....and he was wandering around in circles for a bit. We got to the creek and decided to use Leylands Stewart Stilt technique.
Only one problem, one of Scott's poles had frozen shut, and wouldn't extend all the way. On his way across the log, he punched through the snow, and dropped a pole in the creek! It started to float away, and in his haste to recover it, he fell in head first! We still had around 4 or so miles back to the sled and another 4 miles to the car! He changed into some dry clothes but his boots were full of water.
We made our way down and back to the car by 9pm to fulfill a wonderful Cascadian adventure!