Coe terminus

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Chip Down
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Coe terminus

Post by Chip Down » August 4th, 2019, 10:39 am

goal: Visit Coe Glacier terminus again, explore scenic ridges along lower east edge of Coe, which I've found appealing when seen from several vantage points. This has been on my to-do list for countless years.

abstract: Departed Cloudcap on Timberline Trail, gained east moraine of Coe, dropped in just downstream of terminus, followed creek up to terminus, ascended glacier as far as sensible, climbed out of canyon, followed moraines/cliffs along edge of Coe, returned via Snowdome/Eliot/Cooper.

background: Just for reference, here's what I did last time: Climbed up through Elk Cove to an obvious gap in the moraine, at the base of Barrett Spur. Dropped onto Coe, explored up a bit I think, not positive. Dropped to terminus. Followed creek briefly, ascended moraine, picked a terrible descent route to Timberline Trail, steep and brushy (should have veered right/east away from Coe as I descended). No TR, this was looong ago.

For this trip, I decided to carry no map/gps/altimeter. Just memories and intuition. Maybe should have studied map more closely. Didn't realize how much Timberline Trail trail undulates and weaves around. When I was tired of dropping and walking north away from the mountain, I bailed. Crossed over a ridge, saw a little creek below that couldn't be Coe, which meant I had to drop into gully and climb other side. Then saw trail below, crossing creek. Drat. Would have been better to stay on trail and follow creek up. Creek went dry, creekbed led to a fairly charming basin between Coe and Langille.

I climbed up to the crest of Coe's east moraine. As I neared the top, I heard the creek, so I knew I was downstream from Coe terminus, as expected. When I arrived at the crest, I realized I was just barely downstream from terminus. So how do I get down this moraine? Go back down until it's more gentle? Look for an opportunity higher, and then drop to visit the terminus? Finally decided to plunge right in. As often happens, it was the first 20 feet that were hardest, that crumbly zone you sometimes get at the crest of a moraine. After that it was pretty straightforward. Required a bit of caution, but not scary. [I think if I was ascending, it would be cake. Only challenge might be finding the perfect exit at the crest. Or could follow creek down, and then it's easy, which is what I did last time.] Hit the creek, turned uphill, visited the terminus. It was pretty much as expected. I wanted to check elevation, but had no altimeter. After leaving, thought I should see if I had phone service. No chance, right? I did. Was a smidge below 6000. Wow, that was a lot of work to put me right where I started (Cloudcap elevation). Incidentally, Coe still has a single portal, a well defined terminus. It's the closest Hood has to a simple textbook terminus. I guess you could say the Coe terminus I visited isn't coterminus with any other Coe terminus. :geek:

I ascended the glacier, which was a moderately steep heap of ice and rock near the terminus, but it soon leveled off and became much more pleasant/scenic. The mantle was heavy enough to support plant life, more than the sparse grasses you might see trying to take hold on the lower Eliot. I reached a high point where further progress up the glacier would require a slight drop, and I decided that was a good place to stop. It was getting close to the danger zone, and I suspected that my high point provided a better view than if I were to continue "upstream".

Okay, now how do I get out of here? I was at the end of the moraine; higher up, Coe was bounded by cliffs. I looked up at the moraine and tried to guess which route would be safest. Picked a route, which happened to have a huge boulder about 2/3 up. Aimed for the boulder so I wouldn't accidentally veer off route as I climbed. It was unbelievably easy. The moraine was sandy. Climbing sand is miserable, but the important thing is that rocks would tend to slide more than roll, and boots would sink in a little. It wasn't easy or fun, but considering how terrifying moraines can be, I had no complaints.

Once out of Coe canyon, a brief easy scramble up a bouldery slope put me on the cliffedge overlooking Coe. It was as scenic as I had hoped for, kind of a tilted parkland, grass and flowers, just enough rocks to keep it interesting. From here I knew it would be nothing but easy fun hiking, no more worries about anything. Except maybe the heat. I stopped for an extended break and wrung my shirt out. No, that's a lie. But I did change into a light short-sleeved tee shirt, and carried the long sleeved shirt to mop up the sweat that kept running into my eyes.

I continued up the cliffs until my ridge was just an ordinary moraine again. When it met a Langille moraine, I was grateful to get onto snow for the first time all day. Out on the upper Langille and lower Snowdome, there was a refreshing cool breeze.

No point in detailing my Snowdome/Eliot/Cooper return. Nothing terribly interesting, beyond what I've reported on previous trips. There was one little high point that might warrant a mini-TR later. Worth noting though: Anybody considering a high route from Langille to Cooper Spur should know that the Langille cliffs are starting to get a little tricky. We've lost a lot of snow in the last week or two. I decided to descend until the Langille monument/plaque, if my memory is correct (at that elevation, the cliffs fade, and it's a relatively easy descent to Eliot's west moraine). Then had to trudge up the west moraine until it was safe to drop to Eliot. Of course, CCW travelers [hi Mike] have it a bit easier, as they get to ascend through the slightly-tricky parts.
Terminus marked with "T" (location per phone)
The basin just east of Coe. Moraine to right. Notice the low point on the moraine crest way off in distance, below cliffs. That's where I exited glacier. Above that saddle, notice the amazing pulpit overlooking Coe. Unfortunately, far side is more gradual, so it's not the fantastic viewpoint you might expect. The lowest snow you see left of Coe is Langille Glacier, now stagnant. Notice how its moraine comes up and meets Coe's moraine. The next shelf up is where I got on snow and followed it up and over to my descent route.
Coe terminus.
Looking down after ascending just a little bit from terminus. Looking over at west moraine, notice how sketchy it looks to the left, but to the right, at that little notch, I bet it would be safe.
That's as far as I went up Coe.
Ahhh, no more danger, just hours of easy fun ahead of me
Tempted to venture onto Coe here, but it seemed pointless.
Where the Coe moraine (left) meets Langille moraine (right).
bonus pic: Barrett Spur
One of the amazing things about Eliot Glacier is how you can stand among trees (stunted shrubs, basically) and look down on a glacier. Well, turns out there was a Doug Fir perched over Coe glacier as well.

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Re: Coe terminus

Post by mjirving » August 4th, 2019, 11:45 am

Most excellent. You have me re-thinking my route.

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Chip Down
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Re: Coe terminus

Post by Chip Down » August 4th, 2019, 12:38 pm

mjirving wrote:
August 4th, 2019, 11:45 am
You have me re-thinking my route.
That's what I'm here for :D
A nice reference I often like to use is the west Eliot moraine, at the old roped crossing. Coe's east moraine was no harder than that, maybe a bit easier. The glacier crossing is no spookier than Eliot (which I've done twice in the last month, after years of thinking it would be crazy). Although it should be mentioned that I haven't actually crossed Coe in many years. But if you're lucky, you'll never have to set foot on the glacier at all (I haven't tested that west moraine below the terminus).

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