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The Climbing Club • View topic - Sphinx Hut Spring Break: Mar 26-31 2013

The Climbing Club

at the University of Washington
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:35 am 
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UW Climber
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Short version: Sarah, Robert, Kevin, and Jerry had been planning a hut tour for months. I decided to join the day before their departure. Getting in and out took a day each. We spent 4 nights with the hut to ourselves and 4 full days skiing the surrounding terrain. The fifth night was spent in tents away from Saturday crowds at the hut. Lots of corn was had.

Sarah our routes on days 2, 3, 4, and 5. There is a ridiculous amount of terrain in there. I'm sure we could've spent a few more days exploring new areas.

Our view for 4 days.
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Long version (and it could definitely be longer):

Day 1: Drive to Canada and slog 8 hours to the Sphinx (aka Burton) Hut. Garibaldi lake is BIG.

Let the slog begin. We had to boot it for about 30 minutes right after the trailhead. The first mile was just getting up the road from the car to the trailhead.
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Cross the stream without losing any oxen. Check.
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Moonrise provided some redemption to the almost 2 hour lake portion of the skin in.
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Day 2: Sleep until the sun wakes us. The party of 5 skin up to Phyllis' Engine. Have lunch and hang out in the sun. Sarah and I ski down in fantastic corn. The boys follow slightly later on some fresh breakable crust.

Home stretch of the almost 4 hour skin up to Phyllis' Engine
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Great views from our lunch spot. We're happy to chill out and take in the scenery while the boys head up and over to see the backside.
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Amazing corn (and views) on the way down
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Day 3: Another leisurely morning. Sarah and I head up in the sun to the ridge NW of Deception Peak. (The 3 boys did something long and difficult and undesirable for us.) Clouds roll in. We ski down some pleasant snow and fall down unexpectedly due to the loss of depth perception. Lesson learned: it's easier to follow someone else's down track in flat light; if you take first turns and you risk silly flopping around.

Pretty skinning conditions and a delightful lunch spot.
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Then the clouds rolled in and the flopping around began.
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We got home early and decided to build a couch, eat snacks, drink whiskey, and watch the weather from our perch. We actually saw the boys come down from Carr (a bit left of center in the bowl). It was like watching little ants scurrying around in the snow. Or crunching down thousands of feet of vertical crust, as was the actual case.
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Day 4: the 5 of us head up toward Polemonium Ridge. Mixed sun/cloud, some steep side-hilling. An awesome ski down the north-facing glacier on the other side of the notch we reached. Skinned back up to said notch, booted down chossy/snow, then skied/survived down 40+ degree business to mellower slopes. Types 1, 2, and 3 fun were had.

Steep side-hilling, sketchy snow/choss hiking, and my general feelings on the matter.
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Awesome glacier skiing. General stokedness, despite the flat light.
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Day 5: more sleeping in for Sarah and I, followed by bath time and a slow morning at the stream near the hut. Nothing like naked time in the wilderness! (The boys did their own thing again. Kevin let his rashy feet heal, while Jerry and Robert got a semi-alpine start and summitted Garibaldi.) Sarah and I head to Sentinel Glacier and views of Garibaldi. We saw TONS of people coming out of the Garibaldi-Neve traverse. It was weird to interact with so many strangers after being with our sole little 5-some for 5 days. The views were grand, although the snow was not amazing. We saw lots of people skiing with heavy-looking packs. We got back to the hut, along with 15-ish other people. We decided sleeping in tents would be much better than sharing the tiny hut with an additional 10 people (and their stinky feet), so we headed up to a knoll overlooking the lake. Camping and stargazing were delightful. No one was attacked by pine martins, which was another bonus.

Sarah's ready for the beach! (or snowy stream bank... close enough)
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We gave Garibaldi a right proper salute, then skied down some chunky crusty business. Ok, fine, the top section of the ski was really fun and had good snow. But man, that lower portion, SO BUMPY.
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Day 6: We woke with the sun and waited for it to hit our camp an dry things out before packing up. We were on the lake by ~10:45 and to the car at 4:20. The lake portion took much less time (<1/2 for some of our party). I learned that skate-skiing is a valuable skill I should develop. A mixture of skinning and survival skiing got us down to the dirt part of the trail. Skis on our backs, we booted down past hikers in shorts to the parking lot, then skied the road to the car. There were some unhappy knees by the end of the out-hike. We ate at Essence of India in Squamish and can attest to its deliciousness. You should go there. Really. Super friendly staff and really tasty food. We hopped back in the car, which smelled less terrible than we expected and headed for the border. Stops for coffee and duty free booze put us back in Seattle around 10:30. I think I managed to shower and throw some stuff in the washer before passing out.

Maple sugar snow flakes for breakfast. Win.
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The snow went away so we spent ~1 hour walking downhill in ski boots. Certainly not the funnest portion of the trip.
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The trip was fairly epic for me, having done absolutely nothing like it before. (Most aerobic spring break EVER.) I'm glad to have the experience under my belt and look forward to planning my own extended touring vacations in the future. Sarah and I had an awesome time as ski partners. She also made my last-second joining a lot easier by adding me to her food planning. THANK YOU!

Lessons learned for future trips:
1. Make sure everyone in the party is aware of varying skill levels.
2. Bring waterproof mukluks to go atop down booties.
3. Bring cheap binoculars - we wished we had them (just for fun) almost every day.
4. Dehydrated meals can be DELICIOUS. Especially if they're homemade. (i.e. Sarah is a fantastic food-planning partner to have! ;) )


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 1:31 pm 
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Longshanks
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Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 7:47 pm
Posts: 927
Location: Denver
This looks like a killer trip. How I miss the mountains of the coast!


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