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| | |-+  January 26-28, 2010, Unicorn Pk via Snow Lk - slab
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Author Topic: January 26-28, 2010, Unicorn Pk via Snow Lk - slab  (Read 2201 times)
jhamaker
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January 26-28, 2010, Unicorn Pk via Snow Lk - slab
« on: 01/29/10, 01:24 PM »

I *really* wanted to go back and climb Unicorn in the winter.  Why when access is such a pain in winter?  Hey I'm a pin-head.  Nuff said.

My victim, uh, partner for this was Jeff A., who took the pics.  I picked him up in Seattle.  He did not run screaming down the street after meeting my van, Flipper.  A good sign.

After getting our permit and fox-proof container, we passed through the Longmire gate before closing.  We lucked out following Mike and Brenda's tracks past Reflection Lks. while the sun disappeared and the moon come up.  We broke the last mile to camp (9" penetration) on the rd side knoll E of Louise Lk.

A crack of dawn start saw us slogging down the road following fresh fox tracks.  Breaking trail (more or less) to Snow Lk. we caught occasional glimpses of Robie and co.'s tracks from last wk-end?  Lots of recent avy activity, most aspects.  Fortunately the gully's had run.  The trail breaking was hard w/ just two of us (up to a foot penetration).

AVY obsv:
At the top of the gully above Snow Lk. I took a closer look at the weak layer.  Other reports have mentioned slides in and around Paradise at similar (6000+/-) elevations.  It appears to me that the layer in question is hoar on thin sun crust formed last Fri-Sun morning.  This clean, weak layer is now buried under 4 to 12 inches of snow (Sunday's event).  Speaking of hoar, Wed. we observed new hoar crystals growing up to a quarter of an inch, most aspects and elevations between 4-7K ft.  By now, south and other sun affected slopes probably now have smaller hoar crystals and thicker crusts.  Shady slopes thinner crusts and bigger hoar.

The wind picked up as we approached the main upper N facing gully just W of Unicorn, then died and got very sunny on the S face as we topped out.  Rime, snow, and ice were melting and falling down the 40ft cliffs.  Our S side options were an icy, rocky gully that had slid clean, or a double hourglass gully (w/ cave) filled w/ deep snow.  We chose the latter, crossed one more avy slope and roped up for the final 15M pinnacle.

The summit pinnacle took me 40 min of clearing snow off the face and bad ice out of the cracks to find holds and cracks to take pro.  Finding no solid thin cracks for pins, I ended up using all four of my tricams.  I think I like my old leather boots over my T-3's for this sort of thing.

A lot of work trail-breaking for a short but superb ski down in powder and light slab.

Getting to camp by the light of the moon, we opted for another night out.  Yesterday we skied out in just a few hours on our packed trail.

In the middle picture you can see the traverse over from Castle and the cornices over-hanging the upper N bowl.


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Marcus
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Re: January 26-28, 2010, Unicorn Pk via Snow Lk - slab
« Reply #1 on: 01/29/10, 01:33 PM »

Sweet!  Nice work -- a fun mix of sports.
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trees4me
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Re: January 26-28, 2010, Unicorn Pk via Snow Lk - slab
« Reply #2 on: 01/29/10, 02:18 PM »

Good trip report and climb, way to get off the beaten path!
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chill people, skiing is fun
Snow Bell
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Re: January 26-28, 2010, Unicorn Pk via Snow Lk - slab
« Reply #3 on: 01/29/10, 03:44 PM »

Thanks for the report James.  I saw Flipper Wednesday AM @ Narada and knew that you were lurking about.
I wondered what you were up to until we saw your skin track on the upper part of Unicorn.


The visibility came and went that morning but we clearly saw a large fracture and some staunch wall just above your track on the N -NW face.  We could not tell if the skin track went over the slide or visa-versa.  (It also looked like something was sitting in the snowfield at one of the switchback.  It could have been a rock I suppose but it was quite out of place.)  We saw one other crown on the same aspect near Foss.

That would have been my parties track past Snow Lake from Saturday.  My apologies to Robie for associating him with our troubled trio in my TR.   Wink
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Life is going to slide by you one way or another
skierguitarist
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Re: January 26-28, 2010, Unicorn Pk via Snow Lk -
« Reply #4 on: 01/29/10, 05:34 PM »

Sounds like a good outing!   Thanks for the wonderful pictures...
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jhamaker
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Re: January 26-28, 2010, Unicorn Pk via Snow Lk - slab
« Reply #5 on: 01/29/10, 07:02 PM »

The fracture and resulting slide on the N-NW face of Unicorn was huge.  We were glad to see that face had already slid.

Errata: Pics are copyrighted 2010 by J. Asproulis.
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