Saw a freak warm and dry spell in our otherwise wet winter here in the Pacific Northwest and took the opportunity to go ski the Fuhrer Finger. With the slope at 45 degrees for almost three thousand feet, and the potential to ski continuously from the summit to the Nisqually bridge (10,400 foot descent) makes this run worthy of its reputation in 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America.
Sunday afternoon and the cavalry arrived! Stevie and Bryce, who had just got off his all-night shift, picked myself up on their way down from Canada. As the crowds became sparse with the gate closure coming near, we set up in the pink alpenglow. We don’t get far, camped at glacier vista and were treated with a fantastic nights sky and crazy warm temperatures.
After a sweaty slog we arrived at camp where we met the other tent at 9,480 ft. camp. Ended up being really cool dudes, as you would expect from other mountain lovers, and got to enjoy my favorite sunset vista in Washington. You could see Adams and Helens clearly, and even Hood and Jefferson down in Oregon.
Next morning we were real slow out of camp. Donned the crampons at 4:30 I believe and started up the shooting gallery called the Fuhrer Finger. It’s really a fun time in those wee hours of the morning where you’re in this fog of excitement, sleep deprivation, and nervousness. You get to climb on this real steep snow, with a lot of airy exposure beneath your front points, but you don’t see it yet. You’re in this headlamp goldfish bubble where you just concentrate on your next couple of steps, while immediately forgetting how many previous steps you’ve just tunneled up. Suddenly your next couple of steps have context, you can see the surrounding snow, walls, rock, and exposure. At about 11,000 ft we saw the first glimpse of sun in the east, allowing the first glimpse of the Fuhrer Finger after climbing all night.
Once out of the Finger proper you are on the upper Nisqually and the skiing can be fantastic, but this was early February and there was none of that regardless of warm spells. We wenta toolin! Was real high up, so catching your breath was hard to come by, but the ice was real nice and plastic from catching the first rays to hit the mountain.
Skiing was a bit of an adventure. As one member of our party was not comfortable with the challenge of skiing the chute, understandable for how icy it was up top, we had to think on our feet! WHAM! Brilliant idea to rap the entire chute came into play, so Stevie and myself set out to shuttle pickets and release anchors the entire way down. After six raps, a near miss of a rock, torn puffy, and much suss Bryce was able to exit the chute under his own skis. Huge thanks to Forest and Alexei for the sweet mountain times and helping out on route.
Turned into some wicked good corn, I kept forgetting it wasn’t July! Back at camp we packed up quickly as the wind was something fierce. Couldn’t leave anything out or it would get whipped away. Luckily the flask was full so it stayed put. Under the weight of full packs we proceeded to ski to the Nisqually Bridge more than 5,000 ft below. In total we had a ski descent totaling just under 8,000 ft. Stevie and Forest have also became Boinker Burger believers at Elbe Bar and Grill.