Porcupine Ridge and Six-bit Rock

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Two-peak explore at Big Creek summit.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

We are having a great ski season, but it hasn't snowed for a few days. I just spent 10 days at a desk at low elevation. And it's currently McCall Winter Carnage-Hell, so John didn't want to come up to McCall.

We compromised and met in Cascade to explore Big Creek summit, which I had visited once before.

We were on our feet a little after 9, with the sun just coming up. Note that what looks flat here is actually uphill. But the trail is as well-pounded as it looks.

Trailhead

We slugged our way to the ridgetop with a lot of conversation but not a lot of time for photos. And then the views!

This is Peak 7978 across the head of Six-bit Creek, looking sort of north-northwest. After skiing all the way around top of the Six-bit drainage, we will be skiing up that left-hand ridgeline.

Trailhead

And to the west, the wooded highpoint is Peak 7789, which sits above Porcupine Flat.

But with lots of up and down between us and the summit. Indeed, this is a day with many transitions.

But first, the shady powder shot between the trees here....it was great, after I remembered how to do parallel turns.

Approach

More things to look at. There are all kinds of granite towers back here if you are willing to work a bit.

Approach

Baby granite towers.

Approach

A few more transitions, a few more turns, and we were on top of 7789.

Did I mention that this is all above the inversion?

Approach

From the top of 7789, we dropped down for some really fun tree skiing. It only took me about three turns to realize I should be wearing a helmet.

Couple hundred more and we were transitioning to ski up to another ridgeline. From the ridge, there's 7978 off in the distance.

Note some untouched steep skiing nearby for those so inclined.

Approach

Zoomed in.

What? More granite towers....how are we going to get up THAT!

Approach
Eat the elephant. We followed the ridgeline around the top of the drainage, stopping occasionally to admire the views (and catch our breath). These tracks, which I suspect may have been a wolverine, led us for miles. Approach
More granite towers. The big one here is Gold Fork Rock. Approach
And then we were at our own granite tower, which I'm calling Six-bit Rock. We had hoped for a sneaky way to the top, but lost out on that one. Instead, a few small and well-dispersed knobs and a jam crack allowed us to each tag the top in turn. I think we could have climbed up ON the top, but the risk of down climbing in AT boots made it look non-advisable. And a 40-foot drop off the other side.... Approach

John, ever thoughtful, took this shot of me as I backed off my summit touch. 5.6 or 5.7?

It's a little hard to tell, but my right foot is jammed into the crack. Like, semi-permanent; fall here and the stuck boot could do some damage, and I don't mean to the boot. My bare fingers regained sensation 10 or 15 minutes later. I got a little lower and then jumped off, sinking into the snow mid-thigh.

I actually had it easy, because John had cleaned all the snow out of the crack. Unfortunately, he had forgotten to close the vents in his pants, so the snow all ended down his pant legs.

ApproachJ. Fadgen photo
So after those shenanigans, we found a sheltered spot for a leisurely lunch, followed by a few shots of scenery before we started our return. There's Cascade to the southwest. Approach

And looking northwest, Gold Fork lookout with Tamarack in the background.

Then followed our return around the drainage. We had tried to keep our skin track heading uphill as much as possible, so were able to glide back much of it. On one of the uphills, we chose to sidestep instead of skinning again. More gliding. Then finally a skin over a couple humps (both up and down on skins).

Boy, am I tired....

Approach

But we did get in some more turns. Just not a lot of photos, because most of it was through trees (and I was tired).

One thing to remember about this area is that the best lines seem to be south facing, so were sun affected. Note to self: best to hit this in fresher snow.

Approach
Map Approach

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