Ascent of Norse Peak on 2012-05-19

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Glenn Morrison
Sugaree the dog
Date:Saturday, May 19, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Norse Peak
    Elevation:6856 ft / 2089 m

Ascent Trip Report

Glenn, his dog Sugaree, and I left the Crystal Mountain Ski Area parking lot at 7:30 AM and started skinning up the icy snow of the Bullion Basin trail, which starts out as a road. I took a wrong turn at one point but realized it after about 160 feet of easy gain. We did find the hard-to-find trail, but soon abandoned it and started booting straight up the hill for a while, easy given the firm early morning snow. We rejoined the main skin track, followed it for a while, and then left it again to boot straight up the hill. This was steep, but efficient, and by about 10:20 AM we topped out on Platinum Peak, a 6720-foot knoll on the main ridge.

There was now nice corn snow on the east side of the peak, so we skied down about 340 vertical feet while traversing the upper reaches of Cement Basin. We put our skins back on and climbed up a low ridge, and then had to traverse downwards a little bit below East Peak and then up to the col to the north. We climbed up some more, bypassed a minor peak to the west, and dropped 180 feet to Scout Pass—I took my skins off, but Glenn was just as fast keeping his on, since I had to take time to do 2 changeovers.

From Scout Pass it was an easy skin uphill to Norse Peak—there were some large bare patches to avoid, but overall we had good snow coverage and a minimum of tree-bashing. We arrived at 11:55 AM, and the rock wall area on the summit was free of snow. We took a nice break here, and views were outstanding, especially to the looming hulk of Rainier nearby. Here we saw the only other person on our entire trip, a hiker who had climbed to the summit via the snow-covered trail from the north. We chatted with him as we snacked.

We didn’t want to return via the up-and-down ridge route we had taken, so we instead skied down 1000 feet into Lake Basin, almost to Basin Lake. Glenn and I traded off his video camera to film each other, and I had a pretty good face plant right off the summit he filmed. Sugaree had fun racing downhill after Glenn, right on his heels the whole way down.

In Lake Basin we skinned up a nice couloir for 530 feet leading directly to a prominent 6380-foot notch, took another rest, and skied down 400 feet to flat, treed Cement Basin. Then it was time to skin up again, this time 740 feet back to Platinum Peak, crossing over our outbound tracks just below the summit. We could have skied straight down the west face to find our upward path to return to the car, but instead we stayed on the crest of the ridge and headed south—Glenn was keen on the nice north face of Bullion Peak. We went over a minor subpeak, but soon found the terrain had changed quite a bit. North of Platinum Peak there were lots of moderate slopes and bowls, but to the south there were now lots of cliffs, steep drop offs, and dense trees.

So we could not stay on the ridge very easily, and we tried to avoid losing too much elevation as we headed for the col at the head of Bullion Basin. The snow was now deep gloppy mush, too. We traversed across some rocky areas, and I had another fall as we neared the col, losing my skis and poles as I tumbled downhill. We finally hiked up 30 feet to the col at 6180 feet, and, tired, I hiked down the other side into Bullion Basin for a few feet before reaching moderate terrain where I put my skis on. We were too tired and it was too late for Bullion Peak.

We had some nice corn turns through the forest, but then intersected the main skin track and followed that back to the parking lot. Glenn and Sugaree were paralleling me a bit lower for a while, but soon we were all barreling downhill on the cat track. We did not cut off the big switchback like we had on the ascent, and that was a big mistake—the bottom of the trail was overgrown with slide alder, had spotty snow coverage, and featured a harrowing bridge crossing on a rickety snow pillar.

The last couple hundred feet of road skiing was easy, though, and we were back at the car by 4:30 PM. It had been a fun day of explorations for us—no huge descents or super-steep terrain, but some nice corn and a nearly solitary wilderness experience of roaming around on the snow. I also enjoyed my first big day in the mountains with an energetic and eager dog companion.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:756 ft / 230 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1286 ft / 391 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9.3 mi / 15 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Skis, Ski Poles, Animal/Pet
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:756 ft / 230 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 476 ft / 145 m; Extra: 280 ft / 85m
    Loss on way in:280 ft / 85 m
    Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    Route:South Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Cement Basin  6380 ft / 1944 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1006 ft / 306 m
    Distance:5.2 mi / 8.4 km
    Route:SE Face
    End Trailhead:Lake Basin  5850 ft / 1783 m
Ascent Part of Trip: 2012 - Norse Peak

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Platinum Peak2012-05-19 a2510 ft / 765 m
2Norse Peak2012-05-19 b756 ft / 230 m
3Platinum Peak2012-05-19 c1300 ft / 396 m
Total Trip Gain: 4566 ft / 1391 m    Total Trip Loss: 4566 ft / 1391 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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