If you do get caught, have a plan. Read the 4 page article for strategies.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Two weeks ago in the wastach... tours above sleepy suburbia. I had some pictures from a scenic tour that I wanted to share. We toured up the sawmill trail to Big willow cirque, dropped over two ridges, and skied into Bell's via a tree chute.
Heading up the Sawmill
The walls of Big willow cirque
Lone peak and Big willow
The sun setting on top of the West side of Bells.
The top of the Shoestring, dropping into Bells.
Wasatch nowhere tree's
I dream of the desert. Long warm days with a powerful sun. Friends and short sleeves and flip flops and desert whiskey and no suspenders because there are plenty of belts for all. I awake long before the cold pointless dawn. Warm up the truck, make some coffee. Should I put my sunglasses in my pack? No. Micro-puff or down jacket? Both and a fleece vest to be safe. This time of year every aspect skis like its North facing. The sun can't make a crust, the sun can't warm you, but on a clear day it can light the way through some epic South facing pow.
Conditions at Turnagain are touchy? Interesting? What's the word that means dangerous, but you're going to ski it anyway? Well, whatever the word, that's what we have going on up here. There is a 1/4" rain crust 4-8' down that has no porosity with facets above and below. You could actually use the crust as a window for a snow cave. Perfect for a deep slab. Trouble ahead, trouble behind, and you know that notion just crossed my mind.
Pits reveal that the ice crust is actually one of the stronger interfaces. There are several weak interfaces in the top foot. (Note lack of metric units; this is the USA godamit!) CT2, CT4, CT6, CT bullshit! Sloughs were running on a density change 2" deep, but they ran far and fast. It won't slough at all until you hit that critical angle in the high 30s. It not an issue if you are aware of it, but it could suck if it snuck up on you. At least the cold snow makes for impressive powder clouds. The slough can and did step down at Silvertip: 4" and 8". Where did all these layers come from? Where is our maritime snowpack? I like 80" storms with no slabs; seven feet of consistent pudding that sticks to everything.
The front range is much safer. But without risk, there can not be reward. Above Anchor Town the standard shots are filled in, but wind hammered. They are carvy and fun and close enough to hit up after work. Peak 3, 4, and Ptarmigan are all skiing nicely on the South and West aspects, but it might be a good idea to bring some points (ax, clamp-ons).
- Frank Moolin, Jr.
Sunset over Cook Inlet from Peak 3