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| |-+  January 2012 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  January 26, 2012, Snoqualmie Pass, Mt. Snoqualmie
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Author Topic: January 26, 2012, Snoqualmie Pass, Mt. Snoqualmie  (Read 2431 times)

Posts: 92

January 26, 2012, Snoqualmie Pass, Mt. Snoqualmie
« on: 01/27/12, 12:49 AM »

After foregoing the upper mountain due to time constraints and screwing up the descent route on Tuesday, Mark and I were back in the Alpental parking lot at 0715 for another shot at Mt. Snoqualmie. A convergence zone that seemed tethered to I-90 made the drive out a bit interesting and provided continual snow of varying intensities throughout the morning. Telemetry indicated a brief warm up had occurred ahead of the cold front passage the night prior, and a 1/2" breakable rain crust was sandwiched between underlying soggy powder and the light new snow being added on top of it. This made for entertaining trailbreaking until around 5000ft, after which the crust rapidly diminished and was unnoticeable by 5500ft. Apologies again to anyone who follows our skintrack above ~5k, as we were suckered by snowshoe tracks (which had mostly coincided with remnants of Tuesday's skintrack) well off to looker's left, meaning our ultimate line of ascent lay mainly up the West ridge.

About 3"-4" of loose new snow from convergence zone precip sloughed easily on the underlying base. We found several distinct layers depending on aspect, with a 3-5" windslab below the new fluff shearing cleanly with one tap from the elbow on either another distinct dense layer of 4" below, or on more southerly exposed aspects a suncrust from Tuesday. Shooting cracks to 3' were observed in the windslab at one point, giving significant pause for thought, but this seemed to be restricted to one particular convexity in the open along the West ridge. Periodic regions of wind scouring to the suncrust made for tenuous skinning, and we wasted a bit of time switching from skins to booting and back again in hopes of an easier ascent. By 5500', it became obvious that on our ascent route there were a sufficient number of exposed ice patches that booting to the summit would be most expeditious.

While we had hoped that conditions would improve during the morning, the convergence zone remained resolutely in place, with winds gusting to 40mph at times with significant snowfall. We topped out around 11:45, snapped the requisite summit shots, and transitioned for the ski down. After the sketchy conditions noted during the climb up, we expected variable and difficult conditions. Instead we found a foot of blower pow nestled in the trees along the fall line gully towards the top of the Phantom. After several pitches of fantastic skiing, we joined the upper part of the Phantom proper, along with the pronounced rain crust. Jump turns through breakable crust were the order of the day down to the lower snowfield, after which a quick straightline brought us back to the lot. All in all, a quality day of ski mountaineering. 

Pic 1) Mark shredding breakable crust on the lower slopes of the Phantom

* breakable_shred_tay.jpg (226.27 KB, 594x751 - viewed 781 times.)
« Last Edit: 01/27/12, 04:28 PM by andybrnr » Logged

Posts: 90

Re: January 26, 2012, Snoqualmie Pass, Mt. Snoqualmie
« Reply #1 on: 01/27/12, 03:33 PM »

That crust was fairly manageable this morning (Friday) up at the pass.  It might have dried out and gotten more brittle with the low temps.  With the new snow on top it skis pretty good - jump turns weren't really needed where I was.

andybrnr and co...please wake up earlier and set that phantom skin track for us (getting) old farts who have to make work by 9:30!  Common, you're in college! Cheesy  Over the last 5/6 years I've pounded that thing in to 5k many times from 6am to 8am.  Time for the next generation!

Posts: 6

Re: January 26, 2012, Snoqualmie Pass, Mt. Snoqualmie
« Reply #2 on: 01/27/12, 06:10 PM »

Here are a few more pictures

* P1160317csmalla.jpg (64.05 KB, 404x608 - viewed 593 times.)

* P1160325csmalla.jpg (68.87 KB, 612x490 - viewed 594 times.)

* P1160327csmalla.jpg (55.69 KB, 398x461 - viewed 581 times.)
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