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2010 Backcountry Trip Reports => January 2010 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: David_Coleman on 01/27/10, 01:01 PM

Title: January 25, 2010; Muir
Post by: David_Coleman on 01/27/10, 01:01 PM
Following the weekend storm, Amar called saying we should get out, reporting several inches of new at most locations.  So, I agreed to skip work for the day.  Not expecting a good weather day, the Tatoosh was our calling.  However, seeing the clearing skies in the lowlands, coupled with the improving weather at elevation as we entered the park, we said it's not too often you can ski powder on the Muir snowfield in the winter.  So, we opted for a bigger day rather than yo-yoing the Tatoosh.

The snow was deep leaving Paradise and breaking trail was arduous due to the warm temps and lack of breeze down low.  Once we approached the base of Pan Point, trail breaking became easier & the breeze kicked in.  Amar was discussing how the one area of concern on the way up would be Pan face.  Stopping to apply skin wax as my skis were globbing, Amar proceeded ahead.  I was below the 2 east facing windrift headwalls (rolls) near the restroom facility while Amar was up & over, out of sight.  As I approached the first one, I noticed the fracture lines and big blocks of snow it had created.  I did not see Amar's skin track go through it and wondered if he noticed it as he passed by.  Just then I heard Amar yell "avalanche" as the 2nd steeper roll that he was on gave way approx. 50 feet above him.  I immediately turned my skis downhill and traversed to the right in order to avoid any potential deposition zone, then I soon realized that the slope above quickly bottomed out and becomes flat.  I yelled to Amar to make sure he was o.k. and quickly skinned up to him.  There he was off to the right observing the slab.  He indicated that he was never really caught in it, but rather skied downhill with it.  Some of the blocks were quite large with the crown showing an overall range of 6-18".  It appeared that it slid down to the sun crust from a couple of days earlier.  We then agreed "yup, looked like a windslab, shouldn't have trusted it".  We decided to boot up the 20 foot section along the rocks to gain access to the flats above that upper roll.

Continued upward, sticking to the ridge.  Not breaking out of the cloud deck that hovered above 8k coupled w/ the time consumed by breaking trail, etc., we decided to turn around somewhere just below 9k.  By that time the weather had cleared completely, as it had originally appeared we would be skiing down by GPS track.  Snow conditions on the slopes above Pebble Creek consisted of several inches of powder with a slight sun/windcrust on the surface, which at least for me, made for some tricky ski conditions.  The remainder of the descent was much the same.  Excellent powder was found in the chute that leades up to Pan Point.

Picture of slide added; taken during our descent.

Title: Re: January 25, 2010; Muir
Post by: Andrew Carey on 01/27/10, 04:33 PM
.....  and I believe that was Amar I saw in the parking lot ready to go looking for another slab today! :=)

Title: Re: January 25, 2010; Muir
Post by: solowascent on 01/27/10, 05:06 PM
Being there for my first avalanche last season must have prompted you to seek out your own advent...and a slab no less....way to one up me partner.
So glad you guys are alright! 

Not at all surprised to hear Amar is out there again today  ;)

Title: Re: January 25, 2010; Muir
Post by: David_Coleman on 01/27/10, 11:23 PM
Well, somebody's got to be out there testing conditions for all 'ya all.  Unlike Red Mtn.; however, we weren't pushing our luck!  Point release Spring slides may be wet & slushy, but believe me, you want not part of a slab!

Title: Re: January 25, 2010; Muir
Post by: mick_scott on 01/29/10, 09:33 AM
Thanks for the TR. Glad you guys are ok

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