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Author Topic: Jan 11, 2013, Whitehorse  (Read 1982 times)
patrick
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Jan 11, 2013, Whitehorse
« on: 01/11/13, 09:23 PM »

We gave Whitehorse yet another attempt, and got shut down immediately and resoundingly.  After walking the (bare to 2" deep) approach trail and dealing with the awkwardness as you ascend the creek bed, we got our first sight of the constriction between the cliffs.  Last year, we ascended a ramp of avy debris and crossed snow bridges above the creek.  This year, no debris, just an 80' cliff with a waterfall.  If you were really committed, you might be able to climb along the steep treed hillsides to either side of the constriction, but it looked too committing to us. 
3 hours and maybe 300' of vertical after leaving the car, we paused by the summer trail (maybe halfway to the winter approach).  Hike up the summer trail and see what we can find, or drive to Stevens or another Mountain Loop destination?  We hiked. 
We booted easily over shallow, crunchy snow for maybe 800'.  By 2000', the snowpack deepened, and we struggled slowly through some of the worst travel conditions I've ever encountered.  Everywhere, a crust breakable enough to make booting miserable, but solid enough to make skinning slippery and dangerous.  Eventually, perhaps around 3000', the crust dove from 2" to 6" deep, and travelling became easier.  (Thinner trees also seemed highly correlated with deeper snow atop the crust.) 
By following the general course of the summer trail and ascending generally left, we hit an open area below some cliff bands.  The snow in the open was quite deep, maybe 16".  We followed this open bowl up to a cliffy ridge at 4300', and turned around to get our first unskinned turns of the day at 3:00. 
The skiing was superb.  The snow didn't ski as light as the recent temperatures would suggest, more butter than champagne.  Especially below the ridge, wind effects had left the snow a little denser.  But still great and easy skiing down until a little above 2000'.  Had we been able to stay out of the trees beyond that it probably would have remained good for a while. 
Easy bushwack on soft soil and ferns back down to the trail.

Snow report:
Medium-density snow of greatly varying depths, from 2"-16", over crust that yielded to boots but not at all to skis.  Moderate density, minimal cohesiveness except on E-facing slopes just below ridges.  Maybe moderate bonding - neither rock solid nor terribly loose.

Stats for the day:
10 hours, ~2000' of good skiing, a couple hellish hours of crust travel. 
I'm not sure I'd recommend our Whitehorse alternative as an objective, but it's a great backup should the main route buck you off. 


* the_approach.jpg (222.15 KB, 627x515 - viewed 783 times.)

* life_gets_good.jpg (203.65 KB, 772x579 - viewed 796 times.)
« Last Edit: 01/12/13, 12:13 PM by patrick » Logged
bs.
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Re: Jan 11, 2013, Whitehorse
« Reply #1 on: 01/12/13, 12:37 PM »

whitehorse has captivated me since i spent the weekend staring at it during the meltdown music festival last summer.... but every story i hear about it sounds like yours.  someday i'll have to try anyway.
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trees4me
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Re: Jan 11, 2013, Whitehorse
« Reply #2 on: 01/12/13, 12:47 PM »

i thought lone tree pass might be skiing well right now, way to go get it!  That waterfall looks awful.

nice job getting out on the loop!
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chill people, skiing is fun
patrick
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Re: Jan 11, 2013, Whitehorse
« Reply #3 on: 01/12/13, 02:27 PM »

whitehorse has captivated me since i spent the weekend staring at it during the meltdown music festival last summer.... but every story i hear about it sounds like yours.  someday i'll have to try anyway.

We almost made it last Feb, only to be turned around by scary windslab just below the summit plateau.  The glacier skied like a dream.  It's a pretty long list of conditions that make Whitehorse a good idea... cold weather to minimize hangfire, very stable snow, (hopefully) fun snow...  And I guess we should add ample avy debris to that list. 
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