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| |-+  April 2013 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  4,23,13 Decker Mountain Glacier
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Author Topic: 4,23,13 Decker Mountain Glacier  (Read 1202 times)
avajane
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4,23,13 Decker Mountain Glacier
« on: 04/24/13, 11:51 PM »

Whistler/Blackcomb had been bluebird for a while so I hitched up with a couple of young, fulltime locals for a Blackcomb backcountry day. Avalanche danger was rated "Moderate", but several write ups were very concerned with a crust from April 4th buried under 60 -90cm. As they didn't have Glacier Chair or the T-bars running, we got a very late start and had to cut in from 7th Heaven and hike the T-bar Slope. Once we were on Blackcomb Glacier the guys decided to hike up and around onto the face of Blackcomb Mountain to get to a double diamond roll over called "Ladies First". After a scenic and exhilarating hike (climb?) we skied good steep snow back down to the standard bootpack/skin up the East Col. We saw what looked to be a natural class one release  that went over the traverse towards Spearhead. (Our route) It had been from a day or two before - but conditions were similar and warming. Some cause for concern...Near the top of Spearhead, my young friends skied a 55 degree chute between a couple of rocks so I found my way to a 35 degree  south facing drop into the basin that holds Circle Glacier (and lake) and the bottom of Decker Glacier.  The two good skiers in my group caught up to me and we started skinning up the Glacier. I noticed a hasty pit that had been dug by another group. Having been at this long enough to be the worst skier in a group of three, I noticed a wind crust on top of 12' of consolidated snow. Below the consolidated snow was a very soft one inch layer above another crust.   I continued for a while but the snow was all wind affected and you could tell that it continued to be affected as far as you could see. Every few hundred, feet things changed from 3-4 inches of windslab to a crust with 12" of soft underneath. Obviously snow had been blowing in and building to varied thicknesses. There was also recent avy debris that was very slaby. I decided that since the snow wasn't going to ski very good anyway, I had gone far enough. I didn't really think things would slide, but it was steep enough, and the morning temperature was also 10 degrees higher than the previous days. I retreated. When I got back to the Col way above Blackcomb Glacier I found that the north facing snow there was still very nice for skiing and had a wonderful 5pm run by myself back down to the valley well over 5,000' below.

As I am a very experienced skier, but new to evaluating back country conditions on my own, I would welcome any feedback (email or otherwise) on my observations. I have a link to a video of the Col on the way back. Other videos of the trip are on my facebook page.

http://vimeo.com/64777261

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Brian Izdepski, Facebook TAY
androolus
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Re: 4,23,13 Decker Mountain Glacier
« Reply #1 on: 04/25/13, 08:40 AM »

Damn....I was hoping to do something in the blackcomb BC on May 7th...but now I see the area doesn't open until 10am now...and that the glacier express and T-bar might not be open. Damn.

And of course I was hoping that things would be corning up, but it sounds like variable windslabilicious. Thanks for posting. I wonder what conditions would have been on the more south facing slopes. I wonder if your buddies skied the finger chutes off of a decker, which may have been more corny.
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avajane
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Re: 4,23,13 Decker Mountain Glacier
« Reply #2 on: 04/25/13, 10:11 AM »

10 is a late start and the t bar not going will also hurt. I have been complaining to the VP of Mountain Operations but even if he opens up Glacier Chair their is no way that the t-bar will be running on May 7th as the Blackcomb Glacier Road will be closed as they are putting in the new lift in the Crystal Zone. That being said, from the top of 7th a high traverse is possible on very steep terrain (if icy can be dicey). I took a lower traverse and boot packed up the second half of the t-bar and it only killed about 15 minutes. South facing slopes had a slab/breakable crust that was skiable but not easy or fun. Lots of snowballs sliding. The Finger Chutes look like they have a large cornice blocking most everything. My friends apparently jumped in off a cornice closer to the glacier side. I uploaded this video so my friends could see what was below where they had been standing. It's quite distant but, but it gives you a pretty good idea. The days are long in May!

http://vimeo.com/64777261
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Brian Izdepski, Facebook TAY
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