6 miles of hiking • 2000' elevation gain • 1 night
Went with friends Nick, Chris, and new friend Tommy up the switchbacks to Gumjuwac Saddle Friday for some snow camping. The weather was perfect—blue, crisp, and calm. The snow was unexpectedly crunchy underfoot for the first 1500 vertical feet, but gave way to powder once we reached the crest of the hill. The camp spot (thanks to Water for the idea) was a clearing along Bennett Pass Road at the base of Lookout Mountain with big views east toward Maupin and the Tygh valley.
We set up camp which consisted of three MLD shelters and a kitchen area, ate, drank some whiskey, built a rather delightful fire, and went to bed. In the middle of the night, the wind started picking up in short gusts. The air would be dead calm for minutes at a time and would give way to a few seconds of 30mph gusts. Needless to say, there was a restless hour or two.
Everyone woke up again around sunrise to a pink horizon, broke camp, and had an uneventful hike out.
In regard to equipment, this was my first time out with a new quilt and some down pants made by Ben at GooseFeet Gear. They performed admirably as I woke up almost too warm in the morning after the 24ºF windy night. This was also my first deep winter test of the new Altai Hok skis, a "fast-shoe" hybrid of snowshoes and backcountry skis with built in climbing skins. While not as versatile as snowshoes for crusty side hilling, they made up for their awkwardness on the ascent by providing a good amount of entertainment at camp as Tommy and I took laps skiing down the nearby hills. It was fairly easy to link turns even with universal free-heel bindings on a ski with a permanent skin attached. A little whiskey and a little skiing by headlamp under the stars—awesome.