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Trip Report    

Norse Peak (winter)

Norse Peak 11/30/14, 7:25 hours, 7.3 mile loop with car drop.
Due to larger size of group (10) dropped two vehicles at the summer trailhead on Crystal Mountain Blvd., 4.1 miles from SR 410, then squished all five of us into two cars and headed to Crystal Mountain resort. It was very cold—18 degrees in the parking lot and clear.
Departed at 8:35 a.m. taking ten minutes snowshoeing to warm back up before introductions and the plan for the day. I had wanted to try to traverse to the minor east/west ridge above the two switchbacks after crossing the creek (5175’) but was met with heavy snow-covered evergreens and a rock wall. We continued up the trail to where we could actually see the ridge (5,337’) and discussed pros/cons. We opted for cutting up the ridge. We did a rising traverse north staying below a rock band until the run-out became steeper and then continued a short distance to gain that minor ridge. There was a mostly easterly wind that was transporting a lot of dry fresh snow on our path. Thankfully there was not a lot of snow to begin with, otherwise it was prime conditions for a wind slab avalanche. We could just barely make out the trail under the snow and followed it after intersection it at 6,368’. We summited at 12:30 pm. The wind had temporarily died down and we enjoyed a beautiful scenic lunch for about 20 minutes.
We descended the north ridge and found it difficult to pick up the trail at times, staying just below the ridge on the west until we could drop into the basin where all the various trails are shown on the map. We cut through those for the most part, stopping periodically to check GPS units. This was probably the slowest/most challenging navigation for the day. I had set a waypoint at a trail switchback (5,175’) where I wanted us to pick it up. It worked great and we followed the trail down to the cars. At the split to go to the horse camp we took the right path, which was incorrect. Go left. It didn’t add any distance for us but resulted in us having to drop directly down to the road and hike back up to the cars. Back at cars at about 4:00 p.m.
Great day with a great group of folks!

 

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