April 22-23, 2006
Josh, Sky, Casey, Erik, Pete, Tony, Dave and Jason


Logan: NO! Don't go in there! You don't have to die! No one has to die at 30! You could live! LIVE! Live, and grow old! I've seen it! She's seen it!
[Shows the crystal on his palm]
Logan: Well, look! LOOK! LOOK, IT'S CLEAR!
[Crowd laughs]
P.A. System: Lastday, Capricorn 29's. Year of the City: 2274. Carousel begins.
Jessica: No! Don't! Don't go! Listen to him! He's telling the truth!
[More laughter]
Jessica: We've been outside! There's another world outside! We've seen it!
[Sandmen grab them]
Logan: Life clocks are a lie! Carousel is a lie! THERE IS NO RENEWAL!

From Logan’s run circa 1976

The Banded Glacier from Thunder Ridge. Sky Sjue Photo.

I've only seen pictures of other mountains throughout the world except for the Rockies. I saw those when I was younger. Besides which, the Cascades have been my passion. Every weekend set aside to climb and explore, to see and touch, to know and be in this great range that has consumed my life, and happily so!

Of late I have focused on skiing steep lines. This has it's own challenges and risks. They invigorate me, but at times a gentler descent provides other excitements that don't carry the consequence. I don't always need that stress. With Mount Logan I didn't have to worry. I could smell the roses you could say, even if it was nearly 40 miles of travel in two days. I felt relaxed and excited because this wasn't a steep line, rather a wonderful glacier deep in the heart of the North Cascades.

This was going to be great!

Before I was born, the Banded Glacier was climbed by a Cascade local who has climbed more mountains here than any other - John Roper. Along with two friends (Gary Mellom and Reed Tindall), they climbed the Banded Glacier and Thunder Mountain in the same day. Desiring long approaches also, John returned several times over the years for other pioneering climbs in the area. I mention him because Sky drug me along for a one-day megathon to Mount Logan, and I believe he was somewhat inspired by John whose overall love of these mountains still drives him to the higher walks of life most weekends. Fed with beta (Oh NO! Not that.) from John, we set off via Easy Pass to Mount Logan in search of the notch which would lead us to the Banded Glacier. It ended near the correct notch and we were rewarded with a nice ski back down to the valley but the Banded eluded us (Here's a little more about that hike).

The Banded Glacier in 1972, six years before I was born. John Roper Photo.

An invitation for another trip was put out late in the week for people to join. It didn't appear that many would. BOY was I wrong! At the parking lot eight people were prepping to go. Yep, EIGHT. That's one, two, three.... A team that large was a lot, more than I recall ever going with, but I'm okay with that. Really it didn't feel like a crowd, especially since everyone was in tip top shape and knew what they were about.

The beginning was comical in that all of us AND our skis made us appear as if we had more gear than a mountaineer's party. In the end (after most made its way back to the car), I had the lightest pack I've ever skied with for an overnight trip. All the others had much the same.

Six miles in we took a break. Bad shoes meant that my break was longer than the others. Never had my feet bothered me so much! Dave was nice enough to linger, provide some tape to wrap my feet and pain killers for the swelling. I took it slow expecting to find a nice place to set up camp and spend the night, but the pain went away and didn't return throughout the trip.

Dave and I enjoyed the hike. This forest and trail are a treasure. One day I would like to hike up and spend more time exploring the canyons and forest, especially those canyons. Wow! As a kayaker I've always felt an itch when near water of any sort. This kind was even more fascinating in that parts were kayakable while others are for another generation. Maybe one day I'll return, but if someone reads this, go for a hike. Maybe you'll find something worth the journey. Maybe not? As with any new river, there's a lot of work to be done.

Hours passed by until we reached intermittent snow. Not long after which we put on our skins. I have a new pair of G3's which didn't seem to like the forest and wet snow, but I managed my way up Fischer Creek. I even managed to take a right at the key creek which leads to the [unnamed] lake at 5100-ft. This is where we'd spend the night. That is if my skins would work! They finally gave out and Dave and I climbed the remaining several hundred vertical to camp where the others had just arrived, having taken their time.

Since the sun was still out and Sky is a crazy dude, he went up to tackle some turns back down to camp. Meanwhile everyone else slumbered and chatted. Once Sky returned dinner was cooking, and talk of when to get going the next morning arose. I can't remember if it was 1:30 or 2am, but either are early. I went to sleep in my tent under a warm sleeping bag while Erik and Pete jockeyed for the coldest night spent. I think that Erik won out with no sleeping bag and a down jacket.

Looking down from the summit ridge towards the windy Banded Glacier.

The wake up call came sooner than desired. Most of the group enjoyed what they called 'Cowboy Coffee'. The grains were mixed in with the drink. A lot of hootin' and hollerin' could be heard crowed throughout camp.

With packs as light as could be and lights set, a chill night under a clear sky led us higher. Looking back I could see lights trailing behind. Under the stars, this is the sight I most remember. Beautiful! I soon wore myself out and allowed others to take over the climb, which was struck out above the lake, around a buttress and left to the whimsical notch. There we breaked. Some transitioned to pons for the first 50 or so feet, and ever so carefully skied from there to the bottom.

Light finally graced us as we began climbing again (maybe a 1000-ft lower). Another lake at approximately 6900-ft doesn't have a name either, but Banded Lake or Thunder Lake seems to be what one would name it.

The climb up the glacier was straight forward. No part was steep, but that doesn't mean the climb was easy. The snow was deep and the wind was merciless. The col was calling me but it took longer than expected to rollover the top and view the Douglas Glacier. At that point I took several photos until my fingers became too cold. The others had stopped to break, but a few had gotten up to go, so I didn't stop long.

The last portion of the climb was snow covered until the top of the false summit. It was a bit of a crowd, but we eventually worked our way to the top where most of the skis were left. Sky, Erik and Pete competed for the best route to the final summit pyramid which stands only feet higher than the false. Snow-covered it didn't look easy to climb. At first I wasn't going to go over, but eventually I did thinking that from the bottom it would look easier than it did from afar. As soon as I stepped onto a flatter place between the two summits, I was able to see Sky top out. With my camera in hand I took of photo, and then proceeded to wait until there was room to go to the top.

Halfway up I met Sky who climbed around me, and a few feet below the summit Casey and Erik also climbed around. I stayed on the summit with Pete, and soaked in the moment. It felt good.

Dave climbing up towards the top of the Banded Glacier. The low spot on the ridge behind is the key notch. It is directly above Dave's left ski.
Climbing above the Douglas-Banded Col towards the summit ridge, which rises to the right.
Searching for a way over to the summit ridge. I believe that is the Fremont Glacier in the background.
Sky on the summit of Mount Logan.
Forbidden Peak on the left and the Douglas Glacier on the right.

I took the climb down slowly. Only one move off the ridge gave me pause, but I eventually figured it out. Once back on the false summit, I skied down with Pete to my brother and Dave who were waiting below a cliff. The ski down was fun, even on tired legs. Wind scoured powder interlaced with spots of fluff can't be beat (smile).

The wind was lost at the lake where we breaked again. When the wind picked up once more we started off up the couloir to the notch where the sun was baking the southwest slope to a mushy wallowfest. Once to the top we transitioned to skis and enjoyed the second best turns of the trip. Light powder on a semi-hard base.

Pete with the unnamed lake below.

Pete and Josh laying down some turns.
Dave carving up some wind-scoured powder.
Josh turning down the glacier and Sky and the crew working their way back up to the notch.

Once back at camp we laid out in the sun before finally skiing back down to the trail. The top part was where we got our best turns, quickly followed by the worst. The skiing was about as bad as it could get. There was a hard, sun cupped base filled with dirt, sticks interspersed with trees, logs and cliffs.

Thankfully the bottom gave us mercy and Josh and I left Sky and Casey who waited for the others. It was hard to decide whether or not to use skins or skis on the next section. We used skins until mine fell off. I think that it was easier to use none. But of course predicting that more snow was just around the corner, I skied across a lot of dirt and rocks for good measure. For the record, there were a few patches.

The long hike out was nice and not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Looking back I do wish I would've stopped more. I've had to take it easier these past few weeks because of tendonitis, which has built up. Near the outside of my knee I felt a slight pain but nothing that slowed me down until the very end. On another climb the following weekend I definitely felt it, and will be laid up for several more weeks as a result.

No one caught Josh and I until Sky passed us 3 or 4 miles before the cars. Josh tagged along with him while I took it slower. There's some trail construction that provides some fun, but not nearly as much as it could've since Josh marked the trail with sticks and arrows that a blind man couldn't possibly miss it. This brings you down through the forest, sans trail to a fancy new bridge that crosses Thunder Creek. A trail is followed again for another mile all of the way out to the car. The only bit of interest along this last portion of the hike is the estuaries. The river looked so calm. I could only daydream how an early morning with mist ghosting across the surface would be for fishing. I imagined excellent, but this is still to be determined.

Daydreaming aside, just before the car I noticed others walking up the blacktop behind me. Weird how after15-16 miles we all finished within minutes of each other?

A nice Mexican dinner just before closing and a long, sleepy drive back to Tacoma was probably the most dangerous part of this trip. Not that this trip was safe. Nothing is in life. But climbing and the Cascades are worth the risk to me. Living life without would mean that I would have to find other outlets for my passions, which could be both safer and easier on the body, but I doubt it. Everything I do seeks some danger. For now that's fine.

And, I have a lot left to see, ain't that right Mr. Roper :)

Here are some other shots for your viewing enjoyment.
Dave Coleman
Logan's Heros.
Go get it.
One more that I didn't post from the climb of the lower ridge.


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