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Cayoosh Mountain: North Glacier Touring # 6383

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Date: 2004.02.20
Vantage Point: North Glacier, just below the North Col

Caption: Approaching the North Col on the North Glacier of Cayoosh Mountain: Superb Spring Touring Conditions.

PhotoDescr: A period of dry sunny weather had left much of the backcountry around Whistler well-tracked. A consolidating snowpack and lowering avalanche hazard sent us looking at the maps for a tour that would reward us with new terrain and some good turns. We decided on a circle tour on the NE side of Cayoosh Mountain.

Climbing up the usual logging road access, we contoured through the trees to the north, crossing the west fork of Cayoosh Creek and heading up the hanging valley that extends to a pass north of Cayoosh Mountain. As we headed up the hanging valley, we were surprised by some of the debris that littered the valley bottom. During the last warm spell, some large wet avalanches had filled the valley bottom with fingers of wet snow that had long since frozen in place. The depth of some of the deposition was sobering, to say the least.

Climbing the headwall of the valley, we paused to look east towards the pass to Marriott Basin and noticed that there were no ski tracks to be seen. Turning to the north glacier of Cayoosh, we were pleased to see that conditions were in good shape to climb up a series of benches, run west of the serac band, and climb to the col just NE of the true summit.

Most of the climbing was in light powder, though the air was still and on southerly slopes the sun was starting to warm the snow surface. A fine wind-drift, photo left allowed us to climb just beneath the serac band and then turn climber's right to ascend a ramp onto more gentle slopes leading to the col above.

Once up to the col, a decision had to be made. While I climbed up to the true summit to shoot some panoramas, the rest of the group descended the East Glacier and started yoyoing the upper slopes on good dry powder. Where the snow was not wind-affected, the turns were good with about 20cm of ski penetration.

After running out of climbing energy, we descended the East Glacier to below the obvious moraine on skier's right and made an end run around the East Ridge to access the SE Bowl. From there, the descent to the upper fringes of a cutblock made the descent to the vehicle short work.

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