Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kachess Dam Road

The last couple years I have had a growing interest in trying something new. I tried some cross country ski trips but wasn't sold on being able to master the telemark turn. Last year I decided that I would look into a Randonee setup and started my search for something that would work on the cheap. I never quite pulled the trigger on anything but when I recently saw a complete setup with boots in my size I thought I would make an offer. It was obvious to me that the seller just wanted to get rid of the skis so I offered much less than the asking price. To my surprise he accepted and I went to pick them up before work on Sunday. I put off going until Tuesday with the hope of some new snow that I was sure would be helpful. I am not a skier so I thought it best that I try something where I didn't have to dodge any pesky trees. I still wanted to try and climb something that I hadn't been on top of before. I also wanted something that was less travelled because I knew I would have my hands full and didn't want any added distractions. My initial plan was to try for Easton Ridge from the East where I could use logging roads to get high on the ridge and boot the remainder. I was a little unsure about the area and when I got off in Easton I thought it might be better to see how far I could drive the Kachess Dam Road. The road was packed from heavy snowmobile traffic making it more difficult than my previous trip 2 weeks ago. I passed the tree that nearly hit my car which thankfully had a portion cut out. Where the car tracks had stopped last week now continued so I thought I would give it a go. I drove nearly to the Kachess Large Party Camp and parked. I could have gone further but I didn't want to push the issue.

I had skied this road a few years back and did Spring trips to some of the area peaks in the past so I knew the way. What I didn't know was how to use my new gear. After a couple of tries I was able to get the skins on and my boots locked up. The bindings took me a little longer to figure out but soon I was eating up some miles. Once I reached road 4824 I started to climb. I was quite happy with my progress and I climbed steadily on the hard packed road. Once I had climbed 1500' I thought I had better see how I was going to respond to the descent. I have a very low tolerance for speed coupled with my total lack of skiing ablilty I knew I might have ISSUES. As soon as I took off the skins I knew I was in trouble. The skis were more frictionless than I thought possible. I vainly tried to snowplow to decrease my exponential increase in speed. My first run ended in a jumble of gear. I decided to boot lower to a more benign spot, granted my first choice wasn't steep at all. Finding a grade that was more to my liking I gave it another go. I promptly lost one pole and distinclty remember thinking " Oh sh## now what". This run ended in another fall much less graceful than my first. I tweaked my leg pretty good and decided that proceeding in this fashion was not prudent in the least. Not overjoyed with the thought of booting 4 miles in my ski boots, I reapplied my skins hoping that they would slow me down enough to make is safe. Too bad for me they slowed me down to the point of not sliding hardly at all. It was faster to proceed this way than booting it, so I continued. Soon after I started having foot issues so I had to stop and remove my socks and just use my liner socks which thankfully solved that issue. I thankfully made it back to the car without any further issues. I really didn't expect it to go well and I was right..... anyone want a cheap randonee set up?

Approx 10 miles 1500' of climb 5.5 hours car to car

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