Peak(s):  Fletcher Mtn  -  13,951 feet
Date Posted:  05/19/2015
Date Climbed:   05/18/2015
Author:  sevenvii
 First hits for free - starting an addiction on Fletcher Mtn   

Mountain: Fletcher Mtn 13951
Who: 1 Human - Me, Denali my Australian Shepherd in crime
Route: South face, SE ridge
Trailhead: Blue Lakes lower parking lot

You guys have finally beaten me into submission with all these amazing ski reports. I finally get that I'm missing out by not having skiing (I only ride on one plank, however) as part of my mountaineering arsenal. While I am still taking an extremely long time to select the perfect split setup, I decided I better just haul my resort board to the top of one of these peaks, and see if it's really as cool as all the kids say it is.

The forecasts weren't looking spectacular for the weekend, but I figured I would play hookie on Monday and head towards Fletcher Mountain to give it a go. Loaded up my dog and my board, and then headed North on Hwy 9. I ended up car camping at the lower Blue Lakes parking spot, they have the road closed at this point.

Started hiking a touch before 6a.m. It was 27 degrees out, and partially cloudy but not a breeze to be found. The road from the lower parking spot to the upper dam was halfway covered in snow, so I opted to stick to the dirt half since I decided to leave the flotation in the car. Hiking past the dam, and traversing around the lake, its mainly snow free, after passing the cutoff for Cristo Couloir it was snow, snow and more snow. The snow was slightly less than perfect for not having snowshoes or skis under my feet, but I wasn't sinking past my ankles(mostly) so no need to complain.

Weather was pretty spectacular for the remaining hike. Low cloud cover and winds seem to be pushing over Quandary all morning, but down in the valley it was just the right mix of breeze, clouds and sun. Once I hit 13,000 ft the snow conditions would change quite drastically, there is a lot of soft and fresh up there. I found myself zig zagging to find the the sturdiest snow. The South face of Fletcher was completed covered, and so enticing I had to give it a try. While the angle and aesthetic were more to my liking, I had to concede that the ultra soft snow was getting me nowhere and burning a ton of energy. I started working my way back to the SE ridge where the snow was more firm. I didnt end up busting out the crampons and axe until approx 13,700', I also ditched my board at this point. Without having snowboarded anything that wasnt part of a ski resort, I thought a ski descent off this summit onto the South face would have been too much for my skill level. Another quick push, and we were on the top. By that time the clouds and wind did pick up quite a bit, and I was very excited to throw the snowboard onto my feet (where it belongs) after having it strapped to my back (where it doesnt belong) all morning. Took a few summit shots, texted the wife, and then started to giddily trot down the SE ridge to where I stashed my board.

After putting the crampons away and strapping in, I was ready for the dance to begin. The angle was nothing compared to some of the bowls I have done at various resorts, but none the less, it was very intimidating making that first drop. A few quick turns to try and get the feel for my mountaineering boots (La Sportiva Spantik), compared to my typical snowboard boots, and holding the damn ice axe also took some getting used to. Soon though, I was all smiles and feeling comfortable with my new best friend. I had to intentionally slow down to savor this first experience (and let my dog catch up) which was hard to do. It was so liberating and plain amazing to have descended so far, so fast and with much more fun than any hiking descent. Before I knew it I was back at the lake, and had to put the board away for the day I am most assuredly addicted now!

Now to get my splitboard setup going, because while snowboarding down is cool...strapping it to your back, and either sinking or using snowshoes to go up is definitely NOT.

Early morning sun in the valley

Heading up on delightful snow

Snowy Fletcher in the background

Quick snack before pushing to the summit

Clouds pushing over Quandary

They're not just for resorts

Looking back at my first backcountry ride

So long Fletcher

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

Fun trip!
05/20/2015 09:01
Looks like a blast! how were the snow conditions up there?


looks like fun
05/20/2015 10:40
nice pictures...


Welcome to the addiction!
05/20/2015 12:28
It only gets worse (ie better) from here. Enjoy!


05/20/2015 15:05
cmartin1345 – Conditions seemed perfect. If I would have had ski’s, splits, or snowshoes under my feet I would have been perfect for everything but the summit block. On the SE ridge of the summit block the snow was firm, and punchy styrofoam. On the South face it was waist deep powder that I was basically burning a trench through since I couldnt get any purchase with boots/crampons. Everything seemed pretty well consolidated, and while I dont have a lot of formal snow education, I felt really confident that it wasnt going anywhere.

mountain – thanks

berg – I have a feeling you’re right. It was after your recent 13er ski school TR that I got the inspiration to turn Fletcher into my first soiree, so thanks

05/21/2015 20:03
Thanks for the quick TR!

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