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46W Finish on Gothics: UWJ, Arm, Gothics and Butt Slide down True North Slide

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  • 46W Finish on Gothics: UWJ, Arm, Gothics and Butt Slide down True North Slide

    Finished at about 1:50 on March 20th. I'll have the trip report and pics up in the next day or so, but couldn't resist a sneak preview.

    MudRat Summit Photo

    Duration: (from warming hut at JBL to Garden) 7:30 a.m. – 7:40 p.m.: 12 hrs. 10 min.
    Summits: Upper Wolf Jaw: 10:37 a.m. , Armstrong: 11:40 a.m , Gothics: 1:50 p.m.
    Route: Garden – Johns Brook Lodge – Cross Orebed Brook to Upper Wolfjaw – Armstrong – Gothics – Descend via Gothics’ True North Slide – Orebed Brook Trail - Garden
    Total Mileage/Vertical Ascent: 14.5 miles, 4,500’
    Trail Conditions: Hardpacked/granular snow – icy trails, icy/crusted snow slide conditions
    Temperature: 10 F at beginning, 30’s on summits
    Partner: Mark Lowell
    Diet: (calories, sugar, protein): Breakfast of Deb’s pancakes, 3 Deb triple berry loaves, 2 starburst, 2.5 L water, 4 oz. Agave nectar, 2 Powerbars, 2 Luna bars (lemon and chocolate peppermint) (180, 12, 8),
    Clothing: Wool mitts/fleece liners through Armstrong. Burton mitts w/fleece liners then fleece liners through duration. Capilene with rain pants. Light fleece top with EMS rain jacket. MSR Denali Evo snowshoes with Northface boots and gortex gaiters. Heavy smartwool socks with wright sock coolmax next to skin. (Feet stayed dry for duration). Baseball cap for first 6 miles then fleece balaclava.
    Pack: 35 lbs.
    Picture Gallery:
    Video: Mark Lowell Compilation Vid

    A Pensive Mood: 3/14/11
    The days leading up to March 20th and the completion of my winter round found me burdened with a bit of nostalgia. I hadn’t pressed extremely hard to reach “the finishing point” and never even set it as a firm goal until around 2007 or 2008. I’d hiked eight in the winter between 2004 and that time just to get some trail exercise, de-stress and grab some pictures. I remember actually telling someone in 2004, “I really don’t have the desire to hike all of the 46 in the winter.” I probably doomed myself with that admission.

    I found it to be so enjoyable that I set the goal. Thereafter, I averaged four or five hikes per year, trying to strike a balance between life and hiking every few weeks (on average) over the three month window each winter season. Some years were harder than others as my ambition dropped sharply during the 2008-2009 season when my only outing was a ski up Whiteface’s memorial highway. I didn’t even bother with the summit climb. My core temperature ran consistently cold that year which really de-railed my self-confidence. I got back on the horse in December of 2009 by soloing the Seward-Donaldson-Emmons triplet first and, thereafter, took four more decent hikes in the same season.

    This season marks the first year that I’ve completed every peak in each hike that I’ve embarked upon. Each went off flawlessly which is quite amazing given that it’s been one of the five snowiest seasons since the 1800’s. In the past, I wasn’t as lucky since I’m not squeamish about turning around if something doesn’t “feel right”. I’m usually solo, and since I live in the region, waiting doesn’t really have any adverse effects.

    Now, as spring knocks on my door, and, if all goes well, my next hike will complete this seven-year journey. I’ve watched some complete their goal and then stop hiking. As for myself…like every goal completed, it only marks the beginning of a new hiking journey. It only ends a small chapter, though it’s been a part of my life for some time. The anticipation of completion currently tastes slightly bittersweet like an old friend about ready to move away…but the taste will fade and be overlaid with an indelible cache of memories from the journey.

    It’s hard to put this hike into words…there was so much humor and relaxation. Mark, who I met in 2004 at a 46r meeting when I completed my first round, has been a friend for quite a few years now. We work together (in different
    department) and he sometimes provides a safe haven on extremely cold nights when I’m stuck in Canton overnight. SLU’s Outing Club’s Peak Weekend brings us together as well since he is their advisor and I’m usually the event photographer. So, thus far, we’ve done three hikes together including this one. Each, it seems, involves a slide climb or descent…Marcy East Face, Trap Dike and Colden SE to be exact. His easy dry humor made each a pleasure. So this trip was, yes, about the mountains and the “W”, but it was also about fine company.

    Upper Wolfjaw & Armstrong
    I spent some time in the JBL warming hut until 7:30 a.m. with Mark while he readied himself and fixed breakfast (thanks for the buckwheat pancake). The temperature was a brisk 10 degrees F which is fine for winter hiking, but the temperature had, again, been in the fifties just prior. The body adjusts to warm weather quickly. Neither of us worried about stream crossings, so we took the path past camp Peggy O’Brien and hopped across Orebed Brook. I lifted each foot upon the exit to get as much water off my snowshoes as possible and looked like a cat with tape around each foot. Our pace, thereafter, was comfortable and controlled so my body heated gently without sweating too much. My thumbs remained numb for nearly the first hour.

    The path underfoot was riddled with postholes from the warming weather in combination with hikers bare-booting. That is always irritating. I came near to rolling my angle a couple times and needed to concentrate on footing more than I wanted. I really yearned to simple pay attention to the crystalline sky and sun that, after an hour of hiking, was beginning to peek through the Wolfjaws col. It signaled the dawn of a beautiful, relaxing day, and also the second time out of six 2011 winter hikes that boasted clear skies and not strong winds, sleet and snow. We weren’t shy about taking a break when we felt the urge. There was no rush this day. It was the type of day to savor.

    Temperatures started to warm up at the col. The early morning sun was warm on my skin and no breeze chilled the air. Mark stopped to make some adjustments and I shot a few pics and relaxed on my ski poles. I hadn’t gotten out of breath to this point and the climb up UWJ was slow enough to be relaxing in its entirety. The profile of Lower Wolfjaw loomed closely to the north. It’s icy ledges stood out dominantly. It’s been a couple years since I’d visited this area except a year ago to the day when Rico and I climbed LWJ for a midnight hike.

    The first glorious picture subject presented themselves on the false summit of UWJ…open woods and a glacial erratic…in combination with Marks bright red and blue articles of clothing…a bright and cheerful sight. The snowpack was still around 4-5 feet, though lower elevations were beginning to show signs of spring.

    Upon the summit, at 10:37 a.m., I balanced the camera on a tree branch and set the timer. Mark commented that these were the first winter peaks we’d hiked together so he couldn’t attest to the other 43 and therefore my eligibility as a winter 46r was in question…I looked for nearby cliffs to do a Lowell toss, but luckily didn’t find any of suitable height so we moved on. My amusement rose as I briefly watched Mark walk backward on snowshoes down a steep section to save his knees…that’s talent!

    Our descent to the col with Armstrong went quickly and as the path turned west, I noted the area from where I began my ledge bushwhack of Armstrong in 2009. The climb up the first bump of the mountain was moderately steep and I thought we were fast approaching the ladder section of a ledge and the steepest part of the climb. The pitch of the ledge was obvious, but the ladder was buried in the ice and snow. Here’s where the fun began.

    Mark took a few shots of me climbing the area. At the top, I anchored myself against a tree and waited for him. He climbed past and up near the small ice flows on the steep pitch. He blazed a route above them…the more difficult route. While I heard him clawing away at the ice above, I watched my mitt slip and roll ever downward to the bottom of the pitch. My change in weight (to watch the mitt and mutter under my breath); broke my footing and I followed the mitt…sliding and clawing at the crust until crashing into a small tree. I felt like I’d torn my fingernails loose (I keep them long for classical guitar). My hands had gotten cold while trying to take pictures of Mark and the clawing had simply bent them backward.

    I retrieved my mitt after more muttering and re-climbed to take a video of Mark and his demonstration of climbing a route that I made sure to avoid. I vividly recall him yelling, “Did you get that?” as he was staring upside down from between his legs…enough said.

    GO TO PART 2
    Last edited by mudrat; 03-24-2011, 10:20 AM. Reason: add report
    May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

  • #2
    Congratulations on a well deserved finish after a season of busting your butt. I wouldn't be surprised if we have consecutive winter finish numbers, as I was basking in that same sun at 12:30 on Hough. Well done sir!
    “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” John Muir

    "Not the kind of "fun" you have to force yourself to remember you're supposed to be having, but the kind where you realize for the last half a day you've had this idiot grin on your face that you just can't seem to shake." -Mirabela


    • #3
      Great awesome stuff.

      I kept wondering what the plastic bucket on Mark's pack was for, thinking maybe he filled it with Good Old Rasins and Peanuts.

      I love the video of True North Slide with an ice axe incision being made all the way down it.

      Congratulations on such a great finish.

      See you at the supper?
      Project-100: 100 peaks, one winter.


      • #4
        Congrats on your 46W Mudrat! Glad to see you took the time to catch some sun! haha
        Every man dies, not every man really lives.


        • #5
          Absolutely great stuff Congratulations Mudrat.
          I thought it was a blast buttsliding down Santa, the ribbon slide looked much cooler
          "Climbing is about freedom. There's no prize money; there are no gold medals. The mountains are all about going there to do what you want to do. That's why I'll never tell anyone else how to climb. All I can say is, This is how I prefer to do it."
          Ed Viesturs


          • #6
            Very Cool Congrats!....I've thoroughly enjoyed following your hikes...You finished with style


            • #7
              Congratulations Mudrat. Always enjoy your posts & pics


              • #8
                Congrats Mudrat! Glad to see that the knee didn't hold you up at all.


                • #9
                  Think box required !


                  • #10
                    nice slide in

                    very nice finish
                    nice slide into home SAFE
                    awesome winter
                    I was basking in the sun over at 4 corners on sat.
                    would have loved to be there on sun - day


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by AlpineLamb View Post
                      Is that a poll?
                      Project-100: 100 peaks, one winter.


                      • #12
                        Congratulations! Great finish!
                        Looking for Views!


                        • #13
                          Now that's a cool finish! It must have been exhilerating to cap the season on this great stretch of trail, in perfect weather. Well earned, and done in style Mr. M.!


                          • #14
                            Congratulations. Nice job and creative way to wrap up the list!

                            That view down the slide... priceless. I would have pooped my pants, which might have been good cuz it might have slowed down the butt-slide! But talk about violating leave-no-trace!
                            Going where the wind don't blow so strange
                            Maybe off on some high cold mountain range.
                            Robert Hunter



                            • #15
                              Congrats! It was nice meeting you on the trail Saturday night.
                              "Feats don't fail me now"