McNamara to Margys attempt, Near Disaster. 1/2014

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Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:04 pm

McNamara to Margys attempt, Near Disaster. 1/2014

Post by murphy7420 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:20 pm

Yesterday we went in to McNamara via Hunter Creek. It was an enjoyable climb with a couple of inches of fresh snow. We set out from McNamara for Margys this morning 1/10/14 at 9:30 am. There was about 6 inches of fresh snow when we started. It continued to snow all day at a rate of about 2 inches per hour. By the time we made to 10,000 feet in Spruce Creek, there was 18 inches of fresh snow and we were hardly making any progress. That was at 2:30pm. We turned around and went back down Spruce Creek and then down Woody Creek back to the car we parked there. We reached the car at 5:30pm. We barely made it out. We were both nearly worn out upon reaching the car. There is no visible track in the top of Spruce Creek.

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Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:05 pm

Re: McNamara to Margys attempt, Near Disaster.

Post by Daveconley » Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:37 pm

The challenge of traversing between huts is that the trails are now seldom used. Most hut users are simply ascending to the huts by the fastest route, skiing out and back trips on one or more layover days, and then descending. They are completely missing out on the beauty and challenge of the trails between huts. The choice is theirs to make. But with so little traffic between huts, it makes it all the more challenging when a small group chooses to ski over to the next hut. My past few trips to Margy's and McNamarra have shown little traffic between huts posted in the hut log books. Once on the trail, route finding and map reading is a constant to stay on route. The old days when you could count on following a discernible trail divot are gone. A number of the traverses are now formidable routes:
Lake Creek into Polar Star is snow seldom tracked.
Estin to Gates, a great descent, is seldom tracked.
Uncle Buds is Tenth Mt., always a challenge, is now an epic.
Even the nice descent off Jackal down Pearl Creek is usually untouched.
When planning these routes, I think you have to go with a group of 4-6 and know that you have a strong team to break trail
But the views, isolation and accomplishment are worth every mile....

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Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:44 pm

Re: McNamara to Margys attempt, Near Disaster.

Post by jckeeler » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:27 am

This is an important post. Hut to hut trips have always been an essential part of the hut adventure, but many users today seem more interested in beelining into a hut, making the closest backcountry turns they can find, and skiing out the next day. I know this is fun (and I have done it myself), but it's become increasingly difficult for those of us interested in backcountry traveling, as well as backcountry skiing.

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Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:07 am

Re: McNamara to Margys attempt, Near Disaster.

Post by KateB » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:46 am

I came across this post while researching a possible trip for next winter trying to link McNamara/Margy's/Diamond J/Betty Bear/Skinners. We love the mountain travel the huts system allows, though we have also done a few out and backs. We've had similar experiences with heavy snowfall and unbroken trails, including this past February (2016). It took us 9 hours to ski from Jackal to Fowler-Hilliard, mostly because the trail up from Resolution Road to the Resolution Mt. ridge was unbroken, and with the warm weather, our skins got wet and we carried huge snow loads underfoot every step. Next time I'll be sure to bring glop stopper! On a previous trip, it took us 10 hours to get from Continental Divide to Uncle Buds - the trail was not only unbroken but poorly marked and we lost the trail and spent 6 hours wayfinding, arriving at Uncle Buds after dark in howling snow. Neither of these experiences turned us off hut to hut trips, but reinforce the need to ensure we're as fit as possible, have good wilderness and navigation skills, leave early in the morning, be willing to bail out if it's dangerous, and be prepared to sleep out if we really get caught in a jam. At Jackal this year, we ran into a group who came from Vance's and were en route to Janet's - there's not even a 10th Mt. trail route for that, but they had done it before and were undaunted. Mountain travel can have perils, but wonderful rewards make it worthwhile. Have fun out there!

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