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NWAC Avalanche
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2009 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  May 2009 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  May 2, 2009, Silver Star
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Author Topic: May 2, 2009, Silver Star  (Read 1202 times)

Posts: 22

May 2, 2009, Silver Star
« on: 05/03/09, 11:53 AM »

James, Lynn, and I headed up to WA pass on Friday morning with the plan of the Birthday tour on Friday and Silver Star on Saturday, hopefully maximizing the weather forecast.† Silver Star in sum: not enough snow down low! I thought the eastside snowpack caught up in March like the Westside, but apparently not, eastside snow is below average for sure.

We booted in on the eastside of Silver Star creek and started skinning at about 4300 ft, but even then the skinning was marginal. We crossed the creek around 4500, the snow wasnít better on the other side (just checking). Good snow for skinning really didnít start until 5000 ft.† The avalanche debris at the head of the creek is massive and you have to stay low to traverse east again. Having burned up too much time on the crappy boot/ski approach, and watching the clouds move in, we decided we werenít going to make the summit.

We skinned up a ways to get turns on the excellent snow above 5000 ft. It took us one third the time to get from 5000 to 6400 as it took us to get from the trailhead (3400) to 5000. We traversed at 6400 until we could see the Silver Star glacier. We admired the fantastic skin track up to the col put in by the party ahead of us.† Hope you guys had a great trip, the ski down from the col looked like it would be great!† We skied perfect, untracked corn back to 5000 ft and then the nasty, never ending trek out began.

It was too icy to ski through the trees, but not frozen enough to walk on (often post-holing to our waists), so we settled on skinning down, but even that sucked because of the low snow, dense trees, and ample debris on the snow. The one and only time Iíve honestly thought ďI could really use some snowshoes right now.Ē We decided to ski out the westside of the creek thinking ďit canít be worse than the eastside.Ē Famous last words, itís worse. The post-holing over a plethora of downed logs seemed to last forever (we may have been too close to the creek).† We made it back to the car just as it started raining and wondered if it was worth it for 1400 ft of fantastic turns. But Iíd say so when you consider it was a good workout with gorgeous views and great company.

Hope the other party out there had better luck (and didnít follow our tracks out).

« Last Edit: 05/03/09, 12:25 PM by snow_crystal » Logged

Posts: 202

Re: May 2, 2009, Silver Star
« Reply #1 on: 05/03/09, 02:20 PM »

ScottK and I made an ill-fated attempt on SilverStar last year and made the mistake of coming up the west side of the creek at a time of low snow coverage. Your report brought back vivid memories of our not very pleasant travels in there... what a mess of blow down.

Yet another trip I've skied up something I can't ski down!

Posts: 71

Re: May 2, 2009, Silver Star
« Reply #2 on: 05/03/09, 07:05 PM »

Hi Snow Crystal,

    Bram and myself were the party ahead of you on Silver Star.  We heard the rumors of meltout at the base but were not deterred. We booted up for the first 500' or so  (45 minutes)  on the east side of the river before putting the skins on. The booting was a mix of bush-whacking on hard ground and post-holing in the snow. Within the next couple hundred feet we crossed over the creek and had some difficulty skinning as the snow was rather icy there.    Once we got to the meadows we easily ascended the moderate gully to the right and traversed left towards the 3 gullies that reach the glacier.  We chose the middle as it looked the most direct and dug an avy pit.   The profile wasn't as consolidated as I expected but we went ahead and skinned up the gully.   This ended up being a mistake  as the snow was steep, deep and slippery. We continued up the glacier to the summit scramble.   We tried to skin to the summit block, but after struggling with a mix of icy exposed traversing on breakable crust and post-holing in waist deep snow we left our skis and packs at the base and followed a boot pack put in by two climbers coming from the Burgundy Col.     We reached the summit in stormy conditions, and although long range visibility was decent, we struggled with poor lighting for the top 1500 - 2000' of the descent.  Conditions on the glacier were a mix of good surface powder, some wet snow, and a little bit of breakable depending on elevation and aspect.  On the descent,  we chose the gully on skier's right and this was much more moderate than the one we ascended.     Between 6500'-5000' we found excellent chutes between the trees with fantastic corn.    We skied the whole way out with lots of skinnless skinning and side stepping through the flat section and than descended the snow in the creek for about 500'   At one point I broke through, but my momentum carried me past the gaping 5' chasm!!    I ended up on my butt with the skis dangling down said chasm.   After awkwardly getting back on my feet, we decided that the creek was too thin so we traversed to skier's left of the creek and picked our way down until we found our up tracks.   We wound up back on skier's  right of the creek following our tracks, and had a very easy bootpack out for the last 500'.   All in all an excellent climb made more exciting by the conditions.

I posted my pictures here:

- Scott

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