Sunday, March 23, 2014

Catching up: Seattle spring, Showdown and Stemple

Square Butte from the air on the way back from Seattle
I've got a little catching up to do.
I went to Seattle two weekends ago, enjoying the budding spring there with a walk through a spectacular arboretum. Last weekend there was a ton of snow and I skied the out of bounds perimeter around Showdown Ski Area.  Yesterday, it was back to Stemple Pass and the Continental Divide Trail with a climb of 7,154 feet Crater Mountain.

Katie in the University of Washington arboretum among the camelias
My wife had a conference there and I accompanied her March 8-11.  We did many of the standard Seattle tourist things, such as Pike's Market and Pioneer Square.
It rained a ton, but we managed to walk a ton as well, exploring neighborhoods adjacent to the downtown where we stayed.
We caught an all Richard Strauss concert by the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall.  I got a choice "rush" ticket for $9.50.  This is a beautiful hall and the orchestra is first rate.
Seattle Art Museum entrance
The Seattle Art Museum had a great Miro exhibit that ate up part of our Sunday.
We visited St. James Catholic Cathedral twice, once for Mass and once for a Lenten concert by Pro-Musica.  The cathedral is quite beautiful architecturally and the concert haunting in its solemnity.
Of course, there was a stop at the REI mothership to peruse the latest in outdoor gear.  We hitched a ride to the University District for a walkaround to look at shops, and then it was back to our downtown hotel via the arboretum and Madison Avenue.
The arb was in full spring bloom.

Little Belts perimeter:
The following weekend, I was itching to ski the new snow in the Kings Hill area and get some exercise, and toured the perimeter of the out of bounds at Showdown, climbing Porphyry Peak along the way and exploring the backcountry south of the ski area.
The snow was pretty dense and I got quite a workout.

Me on top Crater Mountain

Crater Mountain at Stemple Pass:
I climb Crater Mountain every couple of years when I do the Stemple Pass backcountry outside of Lincoln along the Continental Divide Trail.
The weather was absolutely perfect on Saturday with temperatures in the high single digits, which rose to the mid-20s by the end of the afternoon.  There was no wind and the sky was a clear blue.
We stopped to telemark on numerous north and east facing slopes along the way.
South and west slopes were too wind-blown and had a wind glaze on them, making them unsafe what we planned to do.  I had expected powder on all slopes since it had snowed nearly 30 inches in the past week.
On top Crater we could see 360 degrees into the mountain scenery.  Red Mountain, of course, was the monarch on the north horizon, the highest point in the Scapegoat Wilderness and the biggest mountain in the Bob Marshall Complex.
Wayne Phillips approaches top of Crater Mountain

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