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Brian Sullivan - Personal Communication

Phone conversation, 1 January 2001
by Lowell Skoog

Brian Sullivan and Dan Stage attended a backcountry skiing slide lecture by Steve Barnett at UW Kane Hall in which Barnett discussed his attempts to ski the Ptarmigan Traverse. On Memorial Day weekend, 1981, Sullivan and partners skied Mt Olympus as a "warm up" (they summited in the rain and got soaked on the way down). Skiing Olympus was something that Barnett had done previously and had described in his show.

About a week later, in early June, Sullivan, Stage and Dick Easter set out on the Ptarmigan Traverse. They started skiing near Cascade Pass and traveled the first day to Kool Aid Lake. During the second day, the skied to Spider-Formidable col, dropped their packs and climbed Spider Mtn via the standard south gully. They continued to the shoulder above Yang Yang Lakes and camped there. They climbed Le Conte Mtn just before sunset. On the third day they continued to White Rock Lakes, taking a side trip to ski partway down the South Cascade Glacier.

The weather deteriorated and they spent the fourth day pinned down in their tents by rain at White Rock Lakes. They used small one-man single-wall bivi tents (Sierra Designs make, recalled Sullivan) which they called "squeeze tubes" and which they found unsatisfactory while cooped up in steady rain. On the fifth day, the foul weather continued, but they resolved to make their escape. They skied to the col near Spire Point in poor visibility, dropped down to Cub Lake and made their way to Bachelor and Downey Creeks, a route none of them had followed before. (They did not attempt Dome Peak.) The exit turned into a grueling, nearly hypothermic ordeal and they arrived at the Suiattle River road long after dark and soaked to the bone.


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Last Updated: Wed Jan 26 11:00:01 PST 2005