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Snow Drifts & High Winds

Coffee with cream, stirred with an ice axe. Badass!

The day before spring will often reveal the beginning of things to come. The crocuses pushing upward, shrinking patches of snow reveal standing water and mud, and one may hear bird chirps amid the dripping sounds and gurgling. It’s usually less cold, less windy, and less snowy at this time.

Unless you’re up there (author points to the mountains). Up there we’ve encountered a delay. Up there things are run by a different rule book. This juxtaposed difference, in fact, gets some people into spring trouble. Not the guided ones, though. The guided folks get the goods with advanced risk management. They are often the ones to pull the trigger on bailing, but we’re there for the oversight.

The trip the post serves was a winter attempt of Mt Jefferson. Leading it was Redline Guide Glenn Van Neil. The plan was lead one returning guest on Jewell Trail, to Gulfside, then onto the Jefferson Loop and the summit. Some of this plan was completed, but not all. Glenn tells the story in more detail, along with several photos he took throughout the day, below…

It was Windy… And Did I Mention the Snow Drifts?

I hate it when we don’t get there. Sometimes it’s just not possible. Sometimes we want it bad, want to help a guest realize their goal and get them there. And sometimes it just can’t happen.
Helping a guest tick a summit off their 48 4000-footers list is always special, helping a guest tick off the last one on a winter 48 list (with one day of winter remaining) is an honor. They want it, we want it for them, and we want to be there when it happens. But sometimes weather and conditions don’t align with that goal. Last winter 48 summit: Jefferson.
We came, we saw, we tried, but the mountains won. It wasn’t meant to be. The forecast wasn’t great to start with, high 50mph winds with gusts to 70), snow showers, and limited visibility. We found very deep snow in places, and not much in others, making snowshoes useless in the rocks. It was cold and once above treeline the wind was relentless. Up Jewell to Gulfside, 1/4 mile on Gulfside and we both knew it was over.
Going back was just as hard if not harder, downhill in the rocks with bottomless snow drifts. We agreed that it was the right decision. We were happy to get back to treeline and out of the wind. The clouds did open up and allow us some beautiful views before we scooted back into the trees and down to the safety of our cars.
Guest happy, guide too, but sad we just couldn’t get it today… but next year, though, we will! —Glenn


Solid attempt, fine lead, Glenn, great job one and all. Thank you for adventuring with Redline Guiding!

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