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Author Topic: April 2, 2005, Silver Basin  (Read 3451 times)
ericd
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April 2, 2005, Silver Basin
« on: 04/03/05, 05:12 AM »

We had Silver Basin to ourselves yesterday.  Dalius, Ryan, Hayes, Chan, and I arrived at the Crystal Basin base area at 9:15 and witnessed the longest lift ticket line I have ever seen in my life - easily over 100 yards deep into the upper parking lot.  Luckily, riding the lifts wasn't our plan.  Checking in with the ski patrol we were stongly cautioned about avalanche conditions in Silver Basin.  Garth's 4/1 post to the NWAC Blog inspired us to check out the conditions for ourselves.

They are not running the Quicksilver chair, so the $5 lift ride was not an option.  On a side note I was thinking - at Crystal they sell you a lift ride of about 1000 ft for $5.  I hear you can get one ride to the top of Whistler (about 5000 ft) for $25.  Does that mean 100 feet of vertical is worth 50 cents?  Anyone have any other data on this issue?  Okay enough digression.

Entering Silver Basin we saw slide debris (mostly smaller sluffing) on all aspects.  This was covered by 6-8 inches of new snow from the night before.  There was no evidence of larger slides, but there were large cornices up on the ridge.  It was an entirely different seen then I saw the last time I was there in early January - WAY MORE SNOW!  We dug two pits on 30 degree slopes at 6100 ft - one north aspect, and one northwest aspect.  The results were similar - about 8 inches of relatively dry unconcolidated new snow overlying about 5 feet of fairly homogenous dense wetter snow overlying a rough rain crust.  The pits were deep.  Shovel tests yielded an easy release of the top layer - very loose and not a concern.  The next release seemed moderately easy (about 5 shovel whacks in the north aspect pit) and it was three feet lower down - big slab.  That got our attention - especially since the ski patrol told us earlier about the 3 foot crowns they were getting from avy control work a couple days earlier - probably the same layer.  The bond to the rain crust was excellent.  We then dug a Ruschblock near the NW aspect pit.  The block sheared at the 3+ foot layer on the second jump (score of 4?) - consensus was reached that it was time to ski!

We chose to set a steep skin track up the gully (third one west of Three-Way peak) so we'd stay off the larger slope in the main basin and away from the larger cornices at the top of it.  I made two turns down the south slope toward Crystal Lakes (our original plan) and found 3 inches of loose snow over a a very firm sun/wind crust.  That run was aborted, and we decided to ski back down the gully we ascended.  It was excellent - calf to knee deep over a firm base with some wind pack starting develop in spots.  This was Dalius's first run on his new wide skis (TM:X) that replaced his old 203 cm Tuas.  I wonder if they could here his screams of joy on the lifts.

We skinned back up for a second run - this time we traversed the ridge to the gully directly west of Three-Way.  This run was even better.  The new snow was deeper near the top (probably wind deposit) and less wind-affected - maybe the best run of the season for me.  Great skiing all the way down over the benches toward the return to the ski area.  I guess they are opening the South Backcountry today.  It will be good fun for all.

It was a great day.  Pictures coming soon.
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Zap
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Re: April 2, 2005, Silver Basin
« Reply #1 on: 04/03/05, 08:43 AM »

Eric, Great trip report.  3 way peak area is one of my favorite backcountry tours.  It's good to hear that winter has returned to the Cascades.  We're still skiing in the Lake Tahoe area which has had spring condtions since Wednesday.  !2 to 18" forecast tonight, should be a powder day on Monday and Tuesday.

Zap
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polarhounda
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Re: April 2, 2005, Silver Basin
« Reply #2 on: 04/04/05, 10:35 AM »

Crystal lakes was great you should of kept going and used our up track we skied a few runs above the lake hiked back to the silver bason ridge then up to the King were hour glass was fantastic
another great day in the BC Grin
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ericd
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Re: April 2, 2005, Silver Basin
« Reply #3 on: 04/04/05, 04:53 PM »

Quote
Crystal lakes was great you should of kept going and used our up track we skied a few runs above the lake hiked back to the silver bason ridge then up to the King were hour glass was fantastic
another great day in the BC Grin


Welcome polarhounda.  Were you there on Saturday or Sunday?  We didn't see anyone else in the area on Saturday, but we could have missed you if you were back near Crystal Lakes.  Sounds like maybe there was more snow on the south aspect you skiied then what we found on the south side of Three-way.  Were you further west toward the saddle?  Where is the hour glass?  I don't know the names of the specific runs in the area.

Eric
« Last Edit: 04/04/05, 05:20 PM by ericd » Logged
polarhounda
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Re: April 2, 2005, Silver Basin
« Reply #4 on: 04/05/05, 01:52 AM »

we left the base area @ 7:30 saturday morning cut under 3 way and headed west into silver basin and over the top of the ridge
hour glass is on the northwest side of the King, the talest peak in that area visable from the cambel basin lodge.
on sunday we went into bullion basin and made laps there north facing pitch mid calf and wonderfull
over a 3 day period we skied at least 1 pitch in every aspect and did not get a single release
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ericd
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Re: April 2, 2005, Silver Basin
« Reply #5 on: 04/05/05, 04:27 AM »

Okay, we did see your skin track going up Silver Basin.  We also saw a couple tracks coming back down.  We thought it was just the patroller we heard about at the base when we were talking to the ski patrol.  Your route was our original plan, but several in our party (including myself) were nervous about that 3-foot slab layer in the main basin.  Sounds like it was okay for you, though.

Sounds like you had a great few days in the Crystal backcountry!  Saturday was only my fourth time there (three backcountry, one lift-serve).  There is so much great terrain.  I hope to go back again this weekend, maybe to Boullion and Cement Basins.  Haven't been over there yet.  Any recommendations?

Eric
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polarhounda
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Re: April 2, 2005, Silver Basin
« Reply #6 on: 04/05/05, 06:53 AM »

bulion basin follow the main trail when you get to the open area(boulion basin) head left east ne to the top of the ridge from there it is all good the ski out is a litle rough slogging thru the crust but the upper slopes in bulion and cement are fantastic
the view from east peak is one of the best Crystal with Rainier in the back ground
good luck
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ericd
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Re: April 2, 2005, Silver Basin
« Reply #7 on: 04/07/05, 04:12 AM »

Okay, I've finally got a picture, so here it is.  This is the first line we skiied - starting from the ridge in the barely-visible gully (upper left).  That's me in the foreground.  The second line is about 100 yards to climbers left on the otherside of the big rock in the upper left corner of the photo.  Can anyone tell me which one (if any) of those rocks is Boxcar?  Still trying to get familiar with the names of things in the Crystal BC.

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polarhounda
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Re: April 2, 2005, Silver Basin
« Reply #8 on: 04/07/05, 09:45 AM »

box car cornice is just out of the picture on the right side
on your way to or from the mountain stop by Wapiti wooli's in green water they sell a Crystal backcountry aerial guide. great tool for the north and south backcountry, aerial photos with names, they are $5 they will be making a new one for next season wich will include crystal lakes,and east peak boulion/cement basin area
we may be back up on sunday and monday
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