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| | |-+  March 17, 2004, Upper Nason Creek, Lake Valhalla
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Author Topic: March 17, 2004, Upper Nason Creek, Lake Valhalla  (Read 1885 times)
Charles
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March 17, 2004, Upper Nason Creek, Lake Valhalla
« on: 03/18/04, 04:34 AM »

Matt and I found the access road to our hoped for east-side waxless tour blocked too low for our liking, so we went back and parked in the lower Stevens lot, and headed up Upper Nason Creek. It was a challenging day for navigation, with no map (other than in our heads) and fog above 4000', but we climbed up through the nice forest, kept trending the right direction, and eventually came out where we had hoped, looking down on Lake Valhalla. The snow in the lower forest (east-facing) was soft breakable crust, but the crust got firmer above 4000', and a trace of new snow appeared around 4500'.

We had lunch at the north end of Lake Valhalla. The snow profile on a south aspect here (4800') was: softening 1" surface crust, 4" large-grained crumbly layer, a thin crust, 8" medium-grained layer, then a very strong crust. A crude shear test suggested the 4" large-grained crumbly layer was the one to watch if the surface crust weakened more. Even though it remained foggy the whole time, south-facing slopes were definitely softening up (the temperature must have been just above freezing as it was misting, not snowing).

We skied across the lake to its south end for the run back down to Nason Creek. At the top the surface crust(s) made turning difficult, but as the incline became a little steeper the crusts had weakened enough that they became easier to power through, and all of the granular snow underneath skied slow. I tried pretending that I was skiing powder - tips up, tails down, as little turning from the fall line as possible - and it worked pretty well (although it definitely didn't feel like powder). When we cut the steep SE-facing slopes near the Lichtenberg Mountain avalanche gully we triggered wet loose slides, 4-6" deep, which went to the bottom of the small slopes. It was nice to have the waxless skis for the valley ski out as we could climb all of the ups without having to stop and put on skins.
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