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NWAC Avalanche
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| |-+  March 2004 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  March 21, 2004, Polallie Ridge, Salmon La Sac
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Author Topic: March 21, 2004, Polallie Ridge, Salmon La Sac  (Read 2092 times)

Posts: 1090

March 21, 2004, Polallie Ridge, Salmon La Sac
« on: 03/22/04, 06:17 PM »

Matt and I got an early start to try to get into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness without having to listen to or smell the snowmobiles (it worked). From the Salmon la Sac snopark (2400') we fishscaled the mile along roads to the start of the Polallie Ridge trail, then skinned up for the ascent of the ever narrowing ridge. The snowpack is dwindling down low, especially with sun exposure, but shady gullies still had good coverage. There was no new snow from the Thursday-Friday storm at first, with the first traces appearing at ~3000', and maxing out at 4" above ~4500'; underneath was breakable crust at first, but higher the crust was solid.

We went right up the crest of the ridge (route of summer trail) and over Pt. 4922, removed skins, skied a little farther on the ridge, then dropped off into the beautiful old-growth forest on the north side. The forest on this slope, dropping all the way down to the Waptus River, is comparable in ambiance to that around Nordic Pass, but is much more extensive. After a small number of turns, we started traversing and climbing toward the saddle between Pts. 5464 and 5242. On this second day of warm sunny weather, the new snow had become moist on top and was perfect for ascending with the waxless skis, and we never had to use the skins again. From the saddle we traversed a small basin to another saddle, then skied down to Diamond Lake. From the next saddle we went NE to the top of a small bump (5200+) for lunch and views, with Hinman and Daniels prominent.

Skiing down the small south-facing rolls of our bump after lunch was on nicely corned snow over a mostly solid crust (breakable where most warmed), but south slopes were rare in this area. We decided to climb up onto Polallie Ridge for views (great view of the Chikamin-Lemah-Overcoat-Summit Chief group), then did a run down the north-facing slopes toward Diamond Lake. Here the terrain was steep enough for the very cohesive 4" of new snow to get moving. While traversing we triggered large pinwheels, and doing turns we got regions of the new snow layer sliding down as a unit, but as these were shallow the only danger was sliding into a tree (which we managed to avoid doing). Back through the saddles, and then we decided to start the long run down through the old-growth forest to the Waptus River. After about 1000', the new snow layer had thinned and the old snow crust become more breakable, so we bailed on the rest of the run and did a climbing traverse back onto Polallie Ridge, getting on it at ~3800'. The run down to the trailhead became more and more challenging as the snowpack thinned and the old crust became more breakable. By the time we got to the car by about 6pm, almost all of the snowmobilers had left.

Posts: 321

Re: March 21, 2004, Polallie Ridge, Salmon La Sac
« Reply #1 on: 03/22/04, 11:17 PM »

A most interesting report Charles! I suppose if one wanted a real thrill, you could ski from Diamond Lake over to Cone Mtn. and try one of the avalanche chutes that go all the way to the valley floor. :-)


Posts: 35

Re: March 21, 2004, Polallie Ridge, Salmon La Sac
« Reply #2 on: 03/23/04, 12:18 AM »

It must be noted that Charles has a real knack for finding the perfect terrain for waxless skiing.  Most people would have plodded along on skins but we were always able to find the perfect terrain and moved much quicker.  

On top of Polallie Ridge there was a definite demarcation between the corned south slopes and the wet powder on the north slopes.  The skiing on the south side of the ridge would have been better, but would have required a climb out.

Also, we discussed a trip over to Cone Mountain, but weren't certain if our approach or going by way of Waptus River was better.
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