Cowlitz & Paradise Glaciers, July 28, 2012
I had mounted up a pair of Movement Randoms with Dynafit Speed Superlight bindings for Silas Wild earlier in the week, which was a bit of a tricky mount. There's a grey plastic strap that you need to insert into the tripod heel to allow the heelpiece to pivot freely - without this thing in place you can't effectively mark or mount the heel, and these have no fore-aft adjustment so you have to nail the position the first time. No directions, either!
After we figured out how to insert the strip, the job went well. Over smoked turkey sandwiches and wine as the epoxy was curing, we discussed weekend plans (every day is the weekend for Silas) and came up with a general Paradise Glacier from the Fourth Crossing Trail concept. The weather, which was drizzle in town Saturday morning, cooperated by the time we hit the Eastonville Bakery for maple bars (shoulda gone for the optional bacon topping, but it seemed like overkill) and turned to clear blue skies.
Elissa and I hit the Fourth Crossing pullout around 9:35, and Silas, who had carcamped the night before, was energetically fitting his student Emily with his loaner pair of skis. Dave and Greg, the latter of whom happens to be the father of my friend Zach the intern at work, were there and ready to roll as well. We hit the trail in ski boots for a few hundred yards, then transitioned to skis and skins a little bit up the hill. Skinning was smooth and fast, with a few icy sections and a few portages that we crossed without removing skis (easier on the heather). We worked up a sweat in short order in the 60 plus degree heat.
Elissa and I topped out at the crevasse that marks the end of the steeper part of the Paradise Glacier first and snuck in a quick run, then joined the rest of the group skinning back up for a lunch break. Silas had a plan to ski the smooth Cowlitz Glacier and we traversed over in that direction with full stomachs - Silas even put on clothes for the descent. There were a few tracks, all left by Silas and others we knew over the past two days, but the skiable canvas was huge and our brushes tiny. Turns were perfect and crevasse danger minimal; skiing was about as good as it gets in the last week of July.
We experienced a slight glitch on the way down. After assuring Silas that I knew the way back, Elissa and I took a wrong turn and ended up a few drainages skier's left of the car. We packed the skis up and hiked back on the Wonderland Trail for a bit more exercise, then adjourned to the famed Copper Creek Restaurant for a burger and pie. What a day!