Title: April 30-May 1, Silver Star
Post by: Onward. on 05/02/16, 04:06 PM
JR and I tried to ride Silver Star two years ago but were a couple of weeks too late and the basin had melted out into a brushy nightmare. That along with the fact it was our first attempt at finding the route meant we didn’t make it very far. This year, our timing wasn’t perfect enough to ski car-to-car, but it was a lot better, and we successfully rode from the col and had a killer weekend.
The original plan was to take a leisurely place, setup camp in the basin on Saturday, poke around and ski some laps on Saturday then go for the col on Sunday morning. But we got an early start and were feeling good after setting up camp, so that combined with the long daylight hours and reasonable conditions allowed us to push to the col on Saturday.
A TR from 2 weeks ago said that it would soon be difficult to ski car-to-car, and that was true as immediately we knew that wouldn’t be possible. Patchy snow from the TH made finding the climbers trail a little tricky at first but we managed. The first 800-1000’ or so feet of climbing are very steep with a lot of schwacking even on the climber’s trail. We started skinning at about 4700’ where we crossed to the west side of the creek. Snow bridges below 4800’ are going pretty fast. We then broke out of the forest into the open swampy basin where we stopped to setup camp. There was running water available at this spot.
After setting up camp and realizing we still had lots of time, we started working our way up. We followed meandering skin tracks and created a few of our own to the top of the NE facing avalanche gully. Hooked a left and traversed rolling terrain under the spectacular Vasiliki Ridge. From below the N ridge of SS that divides the SS and Varden Creek drainages, we took the climber’s leftmost approach and skinned on steep, rolling slopes until about 200-300 feet below the col where we transitioned to booting (there was an excellent staircase in place). Ski crampons necessary, esp on splitboards.
Views from the col were ridiculous. There was no wind. We encountered probably 4-5 other parties all day. We were the last party to reach and descend the col that day, but we tipped our caps to others at the col and on their way down.
We dropped in at about 5pm. In fact, we may have gotten better turns for it as it stayed pretty crusty up high even until late in the day, but by the time we dropped in at about 5pm the snow on solar aspects of the glacier, while not perfect, was much better than the reports we heard from those coming down as we ascended. I’m not sure how it was earlier in the day, but interesting to think we possibly got good turns because we dropped so late in the day on Saturday. Doing this trip as an overnighter made this more possible without feeling rushed.
The descent was a blast. A bit firm for the first handful of turns, then we had about 1500’ of pretty stellar corn turns on the eastern side of the wide open SS glacier. The snow the rest of the way down to camp was variable corny mush with a slick wet crust in places.
Carrying overnight packs to the basin on the approach was well worth it because we were able to ski directly back to camp and not deal with hiking out that evening. Instead, we had a toast and ate some mashed potatoes. We slept like rocks. The next morning, feeling accomplished we were in no hurry to go anywhere. We waited for the sun to hit camp and melt out some of our gear. We didn’t have the legs or desire for a full climb back to the col, but just for fun we climbed and skied the 1400’ avalanche gully as the sun was just starting to really toast it at about 11am. The turns were again, better than expected.
After packing up camp, on the deproach, we ended up booting down from about the 5000’ mark on pretty rotten snow and then found the climbers trial once again back to the road.
GPS Track - Red Day 1, Blue Day 2:
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Title: Re: April 30-May 1, Silver Star
Post by: JSzelag on 05/05/16, 01:14 PM
Any chance you, or anyone else up on Silver Star last weekend, retrieved an ice axe left at the top? I didn't realize I forgot to reattach it to my bag until I got back to the car. If you found it, PM me. Thanks.