| East Face ‘01
It was memorial weekend, and a few other folks were camping at the Rockdale TH. Clear Creek was raging in the afternoon. I made camp up on the hill while the beer cooled in the creek. I joined my neighbors, WP Lee, Chris & the cook. A half dozen others showed later, but I made myself go to bed early. I crossed the icy creek with my board and bike about 2o. GOOD MORNING! The current was still fairly strong at knee deep, and it was tricky by headlamp. There was a second crossing shortly after the first, but not as bad. I was not having much luck riding the bike at first, then switched to dry cleated shoes, leaving my old sneakers for the marmots. I lost the way through a scree section around 10,500 for a couple minutes. Hmm, too much lichen for a road. I retraced, and found the way lower down into the trees again. The bike was stashed at the 4X4 TH, fresh batteries in my light, and redressed to boots. At a sign reading 'Huron Peak ->' I headed into the woods on patchy difficult trail headed up in the direction of Browns. I backtracked, and stayed on the road to Clohesy Lake through the gate designating 'No Motorized Vehicles'. The place was deserted except for porcupines chewing on an outhouse. I crossed the outlet, feeling water creep in through my boots. Then traversed the rocky west shore. A thin film of ice kept the surface of the lake so still that the surface was hard to discern under a headlamp beam. The talus shifted under my weight, fracturing the ice. Fish darted by the bank. A beaver slapped it's tail. I'm Marty Stouffer. The bushwack through the forest was serious. Deep snow patches, brush, dense fallen trees tangled the gauntlet. It took the better part of an hour to emerge in the more open patches below Lois Lake. I was not on my skins yet, I was expecting some steeper sections up through the basin. I spotted Huron catching the morning alpine glow. It was going to be nice today. I climbed the main couloir left of the central face to the south ridge, picking this as the quickest way. There were a couple old tracks down the route. The snow was very firm until meeting the sun halfway, where the changes were already happening. I stuck to the hard debris, but as I was afraid of, newer snow still clung to the starting zone near the top. I stuck to the rocks on the right to exit.
I did not waste much time at the summit. Incredible view of Ice Mountain and the north side of the peaks around Taylor Park. I still couldn't see the condition of the choke in the central couloir, so opted for a variation back to the main couloir. I rode off the summit to the hanging flatiron between the routes, working right. This part was a little exposed, but really fun. A steep, rotten gully let me re enter the upper couloirs. I held my toeside to favor the last shaded areas. I augered into some sauce once, and snagged some rocks. It was time to get the hell out of there. The snow improved again as I descended into the basin. I carried speed out across the runout to a nice lunch rock.
Lee skinned into the upper basin, and a few members of the crew. I warned them that it was getting dangerous on the face. They radioed down to the others, who decided to bail. A couple of them continued on to the pass. I wished them well, and rode out of the upper cirque to the rolling maze on the basin floor. I lost my momentum at Lois Lake, and had to split to move through the mush. I spotted Chris on the other side rummaging through a pack.
"That's some bushwhack, huh?"
"Oh, man!", he was headed right back into it again too, poor guy.
I assembled the board again to ride a couple more pitches on the right over the boulder fields on rotten wet snow. A half hour later I was back to the lake purifying water.
I crossed the outlet, catching a glimpse of Chris for a moment, realizing the trail must circle the private land there. I caught up to him back at the 4X4 TH. Then retrieved my bike, finding a nasty rip in the sidewall of my front tire, and the tube bulging out! I had my tire kit, so improvised a tire boot with duct tape, and pumped it up again. The pump would not give me more than about 30 psi for some reason, so I had to try to be gentle on the way down: not easy with a pack full of soaking wet gear. I walked the scree field to avoid damage to the bike and myself. Otherwise, it was nice to have at that point. The tire held. I collected my shoes and shorts, and rolled back down to the creek crossings.
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