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2012 Backcountry Trip Reports => March 2012 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: DickL on 03/19/12, 10:08 PM



Title: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: DickL on 03/19/12, 10:08 PM
Seeking new territory (for us) in the Crystal backcountry, we skied a loop over 5 different gaps  first imagined by Kenji and skied by our group of 9.   

After fighting brush and steep sidehills on the trail from the Gold Hills run, we climbed to Bear Gap (Gap 1).  From there, we skied windpacked snow, then sun-warmed heavy not-quite-glop to the outlet stream from Placer Lake.   (A better option might be to cross the ridge at Chickenhead.) 

Next was Sourdough Gap (Gap 2), where we appreciated the recent skin track. 

Good skiing down to Sheep Lake, then we headed west to the gap just north of Point 6,458 (Gap 3).  This section might be dicey in firm snow conditions.

Our next goal was the gap to the northwest between Point 6,595 (Crystal Peak) and Point 5,706 (Gap 4). 

We debated how high we would need to climb to be able to de-skin and ski to Gap 4 (elevation about 6,300’).   Our consensus was 300’ of elevation loss should carry us 0.4 miles.  While this might work in some conditions, it was not enough today; but close. 

As we approached Gap 4, the visibility deteriorated in snow and clouds, and we proceded cautiously to avoid cornices.   With the help of a waypoint from an earlier passage, we located Gap 4 and prepared to descend.  Most of this gap is guarded by cornices, but the wind had cleared a steep entrance, which we judged safe to enter with the cooling temperatures (and no sun).  A fun ski down the north facing slope from Gap 4 in soft dry snow, though it would have better without flat light. 

Next to Upper Crystal Lake, then up to the gap above Silver Basin (Gap 5).   By then, daylight was fading, and visibility was poor.  We knew there was avalanche debris from the Ski Patrol’s bombing of the cornices; the only problem was where.  Skiing by Braille brought us out to the Crystal Ski base exactly one minute before the 7:19 pm sunset.  Total about 10.6 miles and 5,300’ ascended.  Again, no headlamps.  Is this a trend?


Title: Re: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: Kenji on 03/19/12, 10:26 PM
Thanks Dick for TR and leading another successful Mountaineers trip, here are a few pictures from the trip.  It's getting harder to pull out headlamps as days get longer.  Great trip, thanks everyone for breaking a trail and being a great companion.


Title: Re: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: John Morrow on 03/20/12, 05:42 AM
Cool tour--in the true spirit of the word.  This seems to get forgotten in the realm of turns, and yoyoing, and such.  Thanks for sharing.  Lowell's word "flow" comes to mind.
J


Title: Re: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: shaman on 03/20/12, 06:40 AM
Sweet trip guys!  Sounds like you squeezed every ounce of light out of that day.


Title: Re: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: Robie on 03/20/12, 07:52 AM
Excellent tour ! Thanks for letting us read along .


Point 6904'  on the north of Gap 3 should have a name. Ive heard it called Chinook peak.
It's a great easy scramble off the Crystal peak trail  and good skiing down to Deadwood lakes.


Title: Re: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: ChuckM on 03/20/12, 08:39 AM
Here is a link to a few photos from the trip

https://picasaweb.google.com/102519030898366604944/5GapLoopCrystalMountainBackcountry3182012?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCPu4r_vJpJ_myQE&feat=directlink


Title: Re: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: joecat2 on 03/20/12, 09:08 AM
I call gap 3  "Nat Col" because the USGS map has Nat right there, and Peak 6904 "Nat Peak"

Gap 4 could be called Nat-King Col because it's halfway between Nat Pk and Silver King.




Title: Re: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: DickL on 03/20/12, 11:56 AM
Quote from: Robie on 03/20/12, 07:52 AM
Excellent tour ! Thanks for letting us read along .
     " headed west" ?

Point 6904'  on the north of Gap 3 should have a name. Ive heard it called Chinook peak.
It's a great easy scramble off the Crystal peak trail  and good skiing down to Deadwood lakes.



Right you are, it's west. I fixed the original post.  Thanks.


Title: Re: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: Joedabaker on 03/20/12, 02:10 PM
It's funny because we really saw nobody all day. Could hear some voices out yonder. But we kept crossing a well packed skin track between ridges and wondered where the herd was.


Title: Re: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: cchapin on 03/20/12, 02:51 PM
Great report!  That's a lot of vert!


Title: Re: March 18, 2012, Crystal Five Gap Loop
Post by: Scotsman on 03/20/12, 07:34 PM
Nice tour.
skin track spacing!


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