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| |-+  December 2003 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  December 28, 2003, Nordic Pass, Silver Peak bowl
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Author Topic: December 28, 2003, Nordic Pass, Silver Peak bowl  (Read 1099 times)
Charles
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December 28, 2003, Nordic Pass, Silver Peak bowl
« on: 12/31/03, 07:46 AM »

I couldn't drag myself out of bed early enough to meet up with Silas and Jim, and I was also too late to beat the lift skiers coming down the runs, so I found the Mountaineer's marked route through the old-growth near the Silver Fir lift. It looked promising at first, a snowshoe-packed path with 6-8" of new overnight. All previous tracks soon disappeared, however, and trailbreaking was pretty strenuous with ~15" of light snow over a solid crust. While taking a photo break (the forest was beautiful all draped in snow, Dr. Seuss-like), Don caught up with me. We shared our skin track for a while, then headed different ways.

I made my way to Grand Junction, then out the ungroomed XC trail to the edge of the Nordic Pass forest. In the open there was ~15" of loose snow over the crust, but under the trees just 9-12". More trailbreaking led me to Nordic Pass, then up along "Radio Ridge" to the top of a short east-facing forest run. I had lunch under the protection of a big tree, which kept most of the light snowfall off me; it snowed off and on until about 1pm, about 2" total, and was 23 degrees at 4000' at noon. On the first run through the forest, I tried different steepnesses, steeper being less enjoyable because my skis cut through to the crust more often. I skinned back up and did another run which was very nice, a little less steep. I skinned back up to Nordic Pass again and saw some new tracks leading over toward the fast way down to Windy Pass, so I followed them and found Don settling in for a snack with a view of Silver Peak.

I had had about enough trailbreaking, so I decided to get a view of Windy Pass and Olallie clearcut to see if there were any tracks. It looked like there was a good fresh track leading up to Silver Peak bowl, so I slid down to Windy Pass, got on the track, and found that its creators had taken my favorite route up through the forest. The cloud cover had been getting more and more broken, and the low winter sun came out dramatically on Granite Peak and Bandera Mountain. When I reached the easy entrance to Silver Peak's west arm, there were no tracks, so I figured I would break trail just until I was to the arm, but once there it was so beautiful that I wanted to see more, and skinned up through the trees to ~4600'. Here there was ~20" of snow over the crust in the open, 10-12" under the trees. The top 4-6" were slightly cohesive and sometimes a little block would tumble in from the edge of my track; it was quite calm and with the clearing, the temperature had dropped to 16 degrees.

I started down at 3:30 with a fast run through the trees on the arm, then got on some down tracks and had a fast ride back to Windy Pass in and out of the edge of the forest. By the time I had skinned back up to Nordic Pass, the day was starting to darken, and I hopped on my tracks and had a bunch of exciting fast glides through the forest, along with a few little climbs which my waxless skis were barely able to ascend without skins. The XC trails had been groomed during the day and were fast, and the snow cold enough that it was squeaky. A first quarter moon provided enough light to see on the way back to the ski area runs, but the tall trees there made the run back to the car true braille skiing, although the run was nicely skier groomed.
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skipole
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Re: December 28, 2003, Nordic Pass, Silver Peak bo
« Reply #1 on: 01/02/04, 10:49 AM »

When you say that you took the Mountaineer trail, was it the one that starts by crossing the creek?  If so, how easy is it to cross now?
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Charles
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Re: December 28, 2003, Nordic Pass, Silver Peak bo
« Reply #2 on: 01/02/04, 10:59 AM »

From the bottom of Silver Fir lift, I took the Hyak-to-Central crossover trail a very short distance toward Hyak before seeing the tree markers and snowshoe path. The crossover trail must have a little bridge over the creek, because I was already on the east side of the creek when I started up the marked trail. Otherwise, I think the crossing would have been very difficult due to the deep cut of the creek and lack of snowbridges.
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