Alaska Road Trip Day 7 – Mount Decker

Post by blogger | May 24, 2010      

Lou and Louie out front getting the track put in to the top of Mt. Decker, with a cornice looming above.

Few things on this road trip have happened the way we thought they were supposed to. We were supposed to make stops all over the western United States and Canada for skiing. We made the stops and skied a little bit, but it’s just not quite what we were hoping for.

The road trip has been fun; jokes, stories, and Caleb’s terrible music all keep us entertained. Most recently, we have selected Karen as the voice of reason on our Nuvi GPS unit. Karen is Aussie and gives us directions in an oddly polite, but rather direct tone.

We left Hood much like Shasta; with our tails between our legs, and headed north in hope of better weather on the Canuck side of the border. Passing through the border was quicker than expected, though they did seem to think that Louie Dawson might have been hiding some of Colorado’s newest legal medicine in the camper somewhere; or maybe they were more worried about Lou. After a quick sniff around from Lassie we were on down the road hanging in the right lane with the semis.

Through Vancouver and on up the newly completed four lane highway leading to Whistler, we found ourselves arriving at the Riverside RV park after hours. Oh well, we’ll grab a spot and pay them in the AM. It’s back to sleep; Caleb and I in our still wet Hilleburg tent, the Dawsons in their house on wheels. We wake up in the morning to find out that the lifts don’t actually open until 10 am.

Finally on a chairlift, the weather looks questionable, but at this point I think there is a bit of summit fever going on in our group. We head to the top of Blackcomb via the T-bar and hit the gate. On the way to getting to the gate and eventually Decker we must have talked to no less than 6 different people. Not one of them actually managed to give out good route beta. Oh well, part of the adventure. Over the East Col next to Spearhead, we finally arrived to a view of our objective.


After buying a map from the guide agency in town we felt better prepared for the trek.


Lou and all the kids packed into the car on the way to the parking lot.


We arrive at our view of the glaciers on the other side of the fence.


Me inspecting the BC snowpack. If only Colorado had this much snow with the same 300 days of sunshine.


Did we need a rope for the climb up? Probably not. But unfamiliar territory breeds caution.


Almost there, having just crossed the crevasse hanging under the new snow somewhere.


Hmmm...I wonder if that Crevasse runs all the way across the slope?


Lou demonstrating prussik use for zig-zag skin tracks. This method allows him to quickly shorten and lengthen the rope when he and his rope partner get too close on the switchbacks.


We call this the albatross method. Me nearing the end of our climb.


Powder turns were had by all despite the overall flat light. I believe this was one of my first real turns below the cornice.


Louie sniffing out the soft yet chunky BC pow.


Yours truly, it was just nice to get a summit with a few pow turns, and work on rope and camera technique.


The veteran showing everyone how to do this forever, the 168 cm skis don't arc the way my 185s do but they work.


Our navigator skiing the apron.


Every day has its ups and downs.


TRYING to make the ski racers on our team happy. Oh well, I'll leave it to Tyler and Colby.


We hit the bottom of the snow after the last download. Oops guess we'll walk down the last 400 meters. Notice the grouse in the right of the pictures. She chased Caleb and I for a solid 100 vertical trying to protect her chicks.


The reward.

I think everyone was excited to finally reach a summit with a ski to boot. I think this will make the next 20 hrs north go just a little bit easier.


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5 Responses to “Alaska Road Trip Day 7 – Mount Decker”

  1. Pierce May 24th, 2010 10:32 am

    Looks like fun! We’re going to miss you guys on Indy Pass this weekend. BTW, anyone on here been over Red Mountain Pass lately? I’m headed there soon and am wondering if anyone can tell me if it’s worth heading there for some skiing off the pass, or if it’s too dirty.

  2. Brittany May 24th, 2010 12:18 pm

    I especially like the “albatross” technique 😉 Looks like another fun day out! Glad to see you guys were cautious- known too many people to be in avalanches on this peak!

  3. Mark W May 24th, 2010 8:22 pm

    What a cornice! Nice day of skiing.

  4. Lou May 24th, 2010 8:50 pm

    It was a terrific place up there, and the trips are quite doable in an easy day because the vertical isn’t huge. Interesting to check out the Spearhead Traverse area, would like to do that some day.

  5. Mark W May 24th, 2010 9:33 pm

    Not to spoil any future gear blogs, but I wondering what kinds of gloves/mittens you guys are wearing. I do well with a light pair for the up, and another heavier for the down.

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