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NWAC Avalanche
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  April 2010 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  4/15/2010, Mt. Snoqualmie, Slot Couloir
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Author Topic: 4/15/2010, Mt. Snoqualmie, Slot Couloir  (Read 2589 times)

Posts: 92

4/15/2010, Mt. Snoqualmie, Slot Couloir
« on: 04/17/10, 01:10 AM »

Rolled off the couch at 0345 with the alarm, grabbed skis, bowl of cereal, partner, and left the U District for the quick drive down I-90 towards Snoqualmie Pass.  Feeling much more alert after a quick stop at North Bend for fresh headlamp batteries and some McD's coffee and hash browns (breakfast of champions), we arrived at the Alpental lot. 

On route by 5:30ish, found faint skin tracks in the melted, barely skin-able crust at the base of the phantom avalanche chute.  Snow under the trees was a little softer, and progress up the skin track (thanks to all those who contributed in the last week) was rapid until the open slopes about half way up.  Here the crust was slick and the track melted and refrozen to the angle of the slope.  First time I've ever really wished for ski crampons.  After some slow and delicate edging, we elected to rack the skis and try booting.  While normal steps broke through the crust and left us knee deep in the loose, underlying layer, knees and toes kept weight distributed enough to stay on top.  Dual BD Whippets were helpful for the resulting crawl up to the summit, and though the progress had slowed quite a bit, we were up top by approx 0900. 

Wandering from the top down to the entrance of the Slot, we were apprehensive given the poor snow conditions observed during the ascent, as well as our glimpse down into the icy upper portion of the Crooked Couloir on the way to the summit.  Looking into the top of the slot, however, we were greeted with an incredibly welcome sight... POWDER!  It wasn't terribly fresh, and the tracks from the last party through were visible in spots, but it was loose and fairly light, with about 6-8" of cover over the packed layer below.  Dropping in one at a time, we enjoyed great turns with a touch of sluff all the way down to the exit, where there was just a little bit of crusty slide debris.  All smiles, we commenced the quick traverse across to a nice skin track up and out of the basin.

A few flurries were falling as we popped over the ridge and pulled our skins, with temps fairly warm.  The unskinnable upper slopes edged nicely on the descent, but the snow under the trees that had been so pleasant to skin on the way up had softened to dense, heavy slop.  The snow quality continued to deteriorate as we descended, and as the phantom avalanche chute was bare and cliffy in spots near the bottom, we ended up booting the last 300 ft of vertical down.  Back at the car by 1130.  I'm afraid with the warmer temps that this was the last of the powder for the season, but I'll be content to harvest the corn for the next few weeks.  All in all a great tour; I think this will become my default Alpental access route.

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* SlotCol2.jpg (168.34 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1050 times.)

* SlotCol3.jpg (182.21 KB, 600x800 - viewed 1061 times.)
Jim Oker
TAY Moderator

Posts: 1591

Re: 4/15/2010, Mt. Snoqualmie, Slot Couloir
« Reply #1 on: 04/17/10, 11:14 AM »

Nice job milking the Snoqualmie powder season!
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