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North cascades in late may - early june

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North cascades in late may - early june

Postby francoisG » Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:57 pm

I have an opportunity for a work related trip in Seattle in late may/early june, and I want to know if it is worthwhile planning a few extra days extension for hiking. I would like to travel light and bring only minimal gear. So the question is: at that time of the year, what kind of conditions should I expect? Are summits in the 7000-9000 feet range likely to be mostly snow free?

Thanks, Francois
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Postby mvs » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:25 pm

Have fun. But there will be lots of snow. Bring good boots and gaitors to have a good time. Gaitors are what June is all about in the Cascades :)

Here is a typical early June climb:
Image
and
Image

All those peaks are below 7000 feet.
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Postby Snidely Whiplash » Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:32 pm

Coming from the Alps, you will be surprised at how snowy the west slopes of the Cascades are in spite of their relatively low mean elevation. For example, the Mt. Baker ski area averages about 700 inches of snow in a season, while resorts in the Alps might get half that amount. Those pictures posted by mvs give a good impression of what even the low peaks (6-7,000 feet) look like in May and June of a normal snow year. Fortunately for you, we are not experiencing anything close to a normal snow year here. We are well below normal this year, although that could change, and late season snowfall can make things worse than what you see.

My advice would be to climb in the eastern part of the Cascades. For example, in the North Cascades, try climbing around the area near Winthrop (e.g. Washington Pass area, Silverstar Mountain, Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, etc.). These summits are in the 7,000-high 8,000 range and are drier than the west slopes. These eastern areas melt out a least a month earlier than do the western slopes. But who knows? With the way this year is going, you could have July conditions in June. In any case, bring good, water-resistant boots and an ice ax for sure.
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Postby francoisG » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:35 pm

Thanks for all the replies. I indeed expected more snow than in the Alps at a comparable period of the year, but not to the extent shown in the photos... Also I take good note of the advice to aim at East facing slopes!

Francois
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Postby dskoon » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:08 am

Where the f are those pics of? North cascades? but, where?
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Postby jordansahls » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:56 am

dskoon wrote:Where the f are those pics of? North cascades? but, where?


I want to say Merchant, or somewhere in there. It looks like the NF of Baring in the background of the second picture.
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Postby Snidely Whiplash » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:53 am

jordansahls wrote:
dskoon wrote:Where the f are those pics of? North cascades? but, where?


I want to say Merchant, or somewhere in there. It looks like the NF of Baring in the background of the second picture.


Yes, I was going to say Gunn or Merchant, which would make them just barely "north" Cascades (just north of US-2). Those peaks are in the low 6,000's as far as elevation goes. This area, along with the Monte Cristo area, probably receives an overabundance of snow due to being right in the Puget Sound Convergence zone. Areas directly north and south probably don't get as much snow.
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Postby mvs » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:50 am

etsnyd wrote:
jordansahls wrote:
dskoon wrote:Where the f are those pics of? North cascades? but, where?


I want to say Merchant, or somewhere in there. It looks like the NF of Baring in the background of the second picture.


Yes, I was going to say Gunn or Merchant, which would make them just barely "north" Cascades (just north of US-2). Those peaks are in the low 6,000's as far as elevation goes. This area, along with the Monte Cristo area, probably receives an overabundance of snow due to being right in the Puget Sound Convergence zone. Areas directly north and south probably don't get as much snow.


Bingo, we are on Gunn Peak in the proposed Skykomish Wilderness! :) You'll get less snow further south but I don't know about the north. For example, Cascade Pass (truly in the "north" cascades) would still be snowcovered, even needing a decent road walk to get there at that time.

I'm wondering if the convergence zone really has a deeper snowpack than say, the North Cascades National Park proper. In my experience it _rained_ a lot there too in the shoulder seasons and summer. It's such a great, wild place.

I second the idea of going east. A great hike in early June would be Icicle Ridge in Leavenworth. Big views, big elevation gain (5000+ feet). You can go up the ridge, down the 4th of July trail and hitch a ride back to your car. You'll have sun and at least half the elevation gain will be snow-free.
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Postby Snidely Whiplash » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:44 pm

mvs wrote:
etsnyd wrote:
jordansahls wrote:
dskoon wrote:Where the f are those pics of? North cascades? but, where?


I want to say Merchant, or somewhere in there. It looks like the NF of Baring in the background of the second picture.


Yes, I was going to say Gunn or Merchant, which would make them just barely "north" Cascades (just north of US-2). Those peaks are in the low 6,000's as far as elevation goes. This area, along with the Monte Cristo area, probably receives an overabundance of snow due to being right in the Puget Sound Convergence zone. Areas directly north and south probably don't get as much snow.


Bingo, we are on Gunn Peak in the proposed Skykomish Wilderness! :) You'll get less snow further south but I don't know about the north. For example, Cascade Pass (truly in the "north" cascades) would still be snowcovered, even needing a decent road walk to get there at that time.

I'm wondering if the convergence zone really has a deeper snowpack than say, the North Cascades National Park proper. In my experience it _rained_ a lot there too in the shoulder seasons and summer. It's such a great, wild place.

I second the idea of going east. A great hike in early June would be Icicle Ridge in Leavenworth. Big views, big elevation gain (5000+ feet). You can go up the ridge, down the 4th of July trail and hitch a ride back to your car. You'll have sun and at least half the elevation gain will be snow-free.


Those are great pictures. I'd like to get in there myself (I've only been to Baring). I do wonder about the Puget Sound Convergence myself. You are quite right that areas farther north get lots and lots of snow. Still, when you look at the Monte Cristo area, for example, you have glaciers very low in elevation that you really even don't have farther north (e.g. Columbia Glacier, Pride Glacier).

BTW, you're probably a bit far away there in Germany to keep tabs, but that area became Wilderness in 2008. It is the new Wild Sky Wilderness.
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Postby mvs » Thu Feb 11, 2010 3:56 pm

etsnyd wrote:
...

Those are great pictures. I'd like to get in there myself (I've only been to Baring). I do wonder about the Puget Sound Convergence myself. You are quite right that areas farther north get lots and lots of snow. Still, when you look at the Monte Cristo area, for example, you have glaciers very low in elevation that you really even don't have farther north (e.g. Columbia Glacier, Pride Glacier).

BTW, you're probably a bit far away there in Germany to keep tabs, but that area became Wilderness in 2008. It is the new Wild Sky Wilderness.


YES! I didn't know that. Thumbs up. :) I feel like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber: "hey, we landed on the MOON!"

Over time I eventually climbed "the triumvirate" of Baring, Merchant and Gunn. Gunn was the best, much more of an adventure. Neat summit register too. Browsing it I saw there is a strange guy who lives in Index and seemed to climb it every month in the summer. Once was enough through the brutal ring of brush for me. Maybe he had a secret trail!
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