• May 2016

Skagit Alpine Club Newsletter - May 2016


Skagit Alpine Club mission statement:  "To promote the use and prevent the abuse of outdoor recreation areas"....SAC Articles of Incorporation


Updates on the Basic Mountaineering Course.


The climbing class is well on it’s way with one week left. We haven’t lost any students yet and they have proved to be a fun group of fit climbers. They are being dubbed the lucky bastards II as they have threaded the weather window thus far for every outing. They have been on top of Table Mountain, Mount Erie, Vesper Peak, Some Random Peak near Church Mountain, Silver Star and have taken some plunges (in an anchored manor) in Crevasses near Mount Baker. They are very photogenic as proven by the epic photo shoot on Vesper Peak and the new full moon shot last weekend during the Crevasse Rescue Training and have great senses of humor.  We hope they all stick around and that the weather holds out for the Mount Baker summit attempt next weekend. Extra thanks to all the instructors for the time they have put into this thus far. If interested in  looking at pictures of the outting check out the flickr photo share site.


Login: skagitaplineclub@yahoo.com


Password: gethighinthecascades




Anna made the club a new logo. If you paid your dues you got a bumper sticker with it. I put mine on a Nalgene. My nalgene was orange and now it is sac-ified. Super exciting swag. This is not the new club logo on this newsletter. I can’t find the .jpeg.


Dave taught a wilderness first aid class March 19-20. It turns out  a lot of the instructors needed this training before the Mountaineering Course. Dave agreed to throw one together so we could teach the class.  We all love Dave.


Park Butte lookout- Alex got a bunch of wood donated to the lookout cause. There will be new shutters and doors this year for the lookout. The club voted to maintain the shutters by going up there once a year to open them and once a year to close them for the season. They were supposed to be dropped off there via snowmobile this season but that flopped. They (the forest service)  are going to try to bring them up by horse in the summer. Horses are scary and unreliable and generally poop a lot. When that fails we will probably have to haul them up and that will suck.


We have a new website. Look at it, marvel in it, give some feedback to the webmaster.  


Notes from the last several meetings-


February-The meeting was held February 2nd at the Burlington Public Library.  Tony was unable to attend the meeting so I (Lisa) ran it. The club members introduced themselves briefly by telling a favorite joke or most embarrassing moment. Mostly there were a few jokes and I guess no one has ever had an embarrassing moment- so we didn't hear any of those. Sonya gave a nice presentation on some climbing she did during the summer with fellow SAC members. She had a lot of great pictures and stories about some climbs she did. The climbs were made more challenging by last summer's lack of snow cover. But Sonya is intense and climbed them anyways. Sonya is really good about inviting anybody to climb with her with I find admirable as that is an area I could improve on. If you haven't had the opportunity to climb with her you should! Bob also gave a short talk promoting Skagit County's Search and Rescue team. He talked about some of the missions they have completed and some of the benefits of being in search and rescue. They were involved in recovery in the plane crashes last summer and have assisted in searching for lost and injured climbers. If you are interested get ahold of him for the next SAR meeting and training. He also said if you have smoked grass you can still be a member of search and rescue, but if you are a convicted criminal probably not.


March- March's meeting for the Skagit Alpine Club switched it up. Before the meeting we all met at the NYC. It was awesome, plenty of room for a larger group to mingle, and beer arrived quickly. You really can't ask for much more...As for the meeting, Bob gave a demo and sneak peak of our awesome new website. Jfro quoted that the website was so neat we it makes us all feel like the "Skagit Awesome Club". It is a complete re-amp of the old version and will make sharing trip reports and planning adventures easier. We also got a quick presentation a video about the grizzly bear population in the Cascade Mountain Region. I learned that bears don't really want to eat people and when they are born they only weigh one pounds. That is very small. Also there are fewer than 20 bears in the  North Cascades and maybe really only 2-3.


April- During the April meeting we watched a film hosted by Dave Myers entitled “Love Thy Nature”. It had a lot of neat nature shots and fun inspirational quotes. I think they wanted me to walk away from it wanting to stop eating meat, but that didn’t happen and I love bacon. Our club raised over $200 from at the door donations that will go to the Nepal Earthquake relief fund and Lookout Towers in the Cascades.


May - We had a kick’n presenter by this dude named Keith. He talked about all his journeys to Nepal and various treks he has taken around the Himalayas. I want to quit my job and go do that. He is a writer and did a nice job presenting and telling stories about his pictures. He had a lot of fun sherpa stories too.


Upcoming Meeting


Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, June 1st at the Burlington Library at 7:00 p.m.


820 East Washington Avenue


Burlington, WA 98233


Google Map Link


Hey! Look At These Things Coming Up!


    Wilderness & Remote First Aid Course Location TBD. Cost $100  with an advance deposit of $30 required with advance registration. Contact Dave Myers at  davem60@post.com  or 360-720-3326.


        Opportunities To Prove That You Are A Magnificent Human Being      

  •           The Skagit Alpine Club is in need of a person to take over the News Letter.         
  •           For more opportunities check out the Volunteer section at the SAC webpage.        
  •           Mount Vernon Trail builders at Little Mountain, 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 10am-4Pm         

Trip Reports- Lisa wrote one in February here it is. You should write one too.


Brian Waddington Memorial Hut (AKA: Phelix Hut)


The Mission


To properly honor Presidents’ Day, Brandon, Phil and I went to Canada where they don’t have presidents, nor do they celebrate Presidents’ Day. I suspect that they might have a Prime Minister’s Day, but I never confirmed such a fact. Anyways, we wanted to go to Canada, ski to this hut in the mountains, ski some more, not die in an avalanche and then come home. We were concerned about avalanches because the weather was complete crap and Canada has had this persistent slab problem with an existing weak layer of snow since January. We decided that we were going to go anyways, see what it was like and come home when the whiskey was gone, whether that be one day or four.


Our basic itinerary was as follows:

  • Thursday Night: Pick up Phil after he was done “schooling” impressionable minds and pile as much crap as possible into our car. Drive to Canada, talk about avalanches on the way there and scare ourselves.
  • Friday Night: Ski in to hut (5-7) hours
  • Saturday Night: Slide and imbibe (1-14 hours)
  • Sunday Night: (See day 2)
  • Monday Night: Ski out and drive home.

How to Get There:

To get to Canada, you head north. To enter Canada you need to come up with a plan on what to tell the border guard. Phil googled it and you were only supposed to have one liter of alcohol with you. I practiced saying “We have one liter of whiskey,” so I wouldn’t botch it up when the border guard asked me what we were carrying. I got pretty good at it, then was never asked. We got across the border, went north, and  passed Whistler, Squamish, a bunch of Tim Hortons and all these other fun places towards D’Arcy. The turnoff we were looking for was signed for Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park. You know you are there when you are on a sheet of wet ice. Drive 13 kilometers down that and there you are really there.  When we got there it was dark and pouring down rain. We set up our tents, drank some whiskey and then called it a night.


Above~ Brandon sporting his avalanche socks and lack of rain gear


Skiing in on Friday (6 hours: car to hut)


Friday was down pouring. We fiddled around with breakfast, learned that you cannot cook pancakes with no oil and pancake dumplings in boiled water are a no go either. The weather was so “unfavorable” that we debated whether we really wanted to go especially since Brandon had forgotten his rain pants and doesn’t own a rain jacket. In the midst of this debate, the weather cleared up for 10 minutes and we decided that maybe it was going to stop raining so we took off. Looking back now I see that we were victims of a sucker hole. This could have possibly been the worst weather I have ever “recreated in”. We skinned for 4 hours through a torrential down pour, completely saturating ourselves before the weather turned to wind and snow. Communication was through primitive grunts, hand gestures and signs, maybe 10 real words were spoken. We followed a logging road and Phelix Creek, then we got to the actual trail head which is labeled with arrows and blaze orange reflective markings to the hut. When I saw a sign that said 3.4 KM to Brian Waddington Hut my spirits were lifted. I took some science in college and I know that kilometers are shorter than miles.


“The hut was pretty baller,” ~ Lisa Rouse.


C:\Users\lrouse\Desktop\Brian Waddington\P1040838.JPG


The hut sleeps 25- and stayed around 35-40 degrees depending on how much whiskey you drank. It had some working stoves, a lantern, a catalytic heater and lots of places to hang wet things that never dried. If we were to go again we would have brought more white camp fuel for the heater. The hut also had a library of the University of British Columbia’s Varsity Outdoor Club songs books and yearly Journals. These are publications of their trip reports, naked summit selfies, poop stories and other crazy antics, so it really had something for everyone.


The key to survival is to find something to do” ~Phil Wilson


We woke up Saturday to a foot of fresh pow pow outside our hut. The visibility was pretty poor and it was still snowing. All our clothes were still wet so it took us a little bit to get motivated to go ski. We skied an area called Cabin Hill, probably due to its proximity to the cabin. This was a lower angle slope with lots of trees anchoring it- we read it was pretty safe for conditions that we were in. We dug some pits and concluded that those 3 x 5 feet areas were safe- so we skied those too.



C:\Users\lrouse\Desktop\Brian Waddington\Facebook Brian Waddington Pics\P1050004.JPGC:\Users\lrouse\Desktop\Brian Waddington\Facebook Brian Waddington Pics\P1040902.JPG


Above~ Brandon and Phil Doing Fancy Things C:\Users\lrouse\Desktop\Brian Waddington\Facebook Brian Waddington Pics\P1050009.JPG


~ Left, Lisa doing Fancy Things


Saturday night it dumped some more snow- probably another foot and the visibility was about the same. Some of the view around us would come and go, but not the greatest. On Sunday we skied the approach to Mount Aragorn. We did four laps here and then decided to head back to the hut before we ran out of light. I clipped something, hit a tree, and then landed in its well. Brandon and Phil came back to help pull me out. I was a pretty unhappy tree well occupant until I saw them, but then it was kind of funny.


Monday: C:\Users\lrouse\Desktop\Brian Waddington\Facebook Brian Waddington Pics\P1050026.JPG


The weather completely cleared out Monday- so we got to enjoy the beautiful views all around us on our ski out. Until we got to the logging road, the skiing was the typical survival skiing that is required of a backcountry ski trip: some ice, some trees, moderately tight sphincters, cautious turns-one at a time, some bad words, etc, but we made it. An hour after we got back on the logging road, Brandon pointed out to Phil and I that we had been skiing over these gigantic fresh bear tracks. Brandon estimated that the bear was probably between 200-400 pounds. I had just seen the movie, “The Revenant”. In my mind, I was replaying the scene where that famous dude gets torn apart by a Grizzly Bear. I decided that my best defensive since I had no boom stick was to sing the lyrics to Lil’ Troys’ world renown song: “Wanna be a Baller”. When my voice was getting hoarse I noticed that the bear tracks dodged to the right and we were no longer following them. I was relieved and announced my discovery and conclusion that I didn’t think we were going to get eaten anymore to Brandon and Phil. They responded, “Yeah, predators don’t like to be followed. He probably backtracked and is hunting us now”.  So I continued singing until we got to the car.