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Mountaineering - Cascade Mountain via Crow's Foot Couloir
By Benjamin Stokes
| Our Easter Sunday started early with a 4:20am carpool meetup in Midvale. From there our team, Ben Stokes, Sam Grant, Dennis Goreham and Donovan Lynch proceeded to the Rock Canyon trailhead to rendezvous with its final member, Mike Francis. After some final adjustments, we were on the trail, headlamps ablaze, at 5:20am.
The first portion of our adventure was a four-mile, 2000-ft ascent approach hike up Rock Canyon which deposited us at the base of the Crow's Foot Couloir. Previous exploratory hikes had established that the surest route to the ridge above was via the "middle toe" of the couloir which climbs 3000 feet with a very sustained pitch of 40-45 degrees through a limestone "slot canyon." After strapping on crampons and helmets, we started up the couloir at 7:00am.
The conditions in the couloir were nearly ideal for the ascent. A crisp névé had formed in the couloir that hardly compacted at all underfoot but was still soft enough for the crampons to bite. The made for ready progress up the couloir and by 9:15am, we had reached to the top.
From there, we had a very challenging ridge scramble ahead of us in order to reach the south summit of Cascade Mountain. In many places the ridge was heavily corniced and in the other places old gnarled white pines blocked our path. After great deal of up and down, we finally reached the south summit at 11:00am.
On the way down, we simply reversed our steps. The couloir was rather slow going because most of the snow was still quite hard. We carefully picked our way down and all made it safely to the bottom. Finally we had to do the exit hike on what proved to be a gloriously sunny and breezy afternoon. We all arrived at the car a little after 3:00pm. All in all, we logged 6500 feet of ascent over 13 miles of hiking and climbing.
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