Huntoon Point (Mar 23, 2014)

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huntoon_pt_coverConditions: Snowshoe
Gear: Snowshoes
Map: USGS Shuksan Arm
Area: Mt Baker (Artist Point)
Reference: 
Stats: 4.54mi, 1143' gain (round trip)

This was a day more about enjoying the beautiful scenery than packing on miles or elevation gain. Gotta do this kind of trip once in a while...

Gwen, Jim and I met on the north end of Seattle and carpooled up towards Artist Point. We parked in the upper lot, not nearly as full as I would have expected for such a nice day. The weather forecast was for partly sunny. Not bad for late March.

The "winter route" has one follow the road up to Austin Pass and eventually artist point. Hard to imagine sometimes that there is a road under all that snow. We stayed far to the right, attempting to stay clear of the boarders and skiers heading downhill. The steepest part of the trip is the short grunt up to Austin Pass. I was up this way in January and the conditions were so different today. Then it was low visibility, extreme cold, and 50+ mph winds. Today it was sunny, calm, and stunning! As we were heading up Austin Pass we saw the first of the mornings skiers rip some now lines down the north face of Table Mtn. Eventually we crested Kulshan Ridge and decided to first follow some tracks over towards Table Mtn. It would be nice to head up that high point. Where there were tracks laid in, the going was splendid. Where one stepped off the track, it was about 2 feet of snowplowing.

We reach the base of Table Mtn and gave it a good look (in between the swirly misty clouds hovering over the area). We could see a couple of switchbacks on the lower part of the steep section which looked like they ended in a clump of trees. When the mist cleared more, we could see that from this tree clump there was a faint climbers track nearly straight up to the top. Hmm...we gave it a good look. We would have tried it if the track looked like it was beat in more. Instead, we decided to head over to Huntoon Point. Before we left we watched as a small group of skiers headed up Table, they skinned up and then paused at the clump of trees taking their skis off and putting then on their packs and then they booted, slowly up the last steep section to the top of Table Mtn.

The trip over to Huntoon was pleasant. Lots of little ups and downs. The perfect snow conditions on the ridge looked like whipped cream on a pie.

Near the top of Huntoon, the beat in path veered over to another bench instead of heading to the high point. I could see some old tracks near the top. So the last 40' or so I finally got to work the legs and put a new track in! At the top we dropped out packs and stopped for a late lunch. Lots to see from this vantage, Shuksan, Table Mtn, and lots and lots of swirling could. We lingered as long as we could and only departed when a large group arrived and spread a large tarn next to where we were sitting. Jim and Gwen headed down the way we came up hoping to catch some better photos of Shuksan. I dropped off the north side of Huntoon into nearly untracked fresh snow! I lingered on the ridge waiting for Jim and Gwen to catch up. We headed back down to Austin Pass and eventually the car.
 
Huntoon Point Slideshow

huntoon_pt_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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