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NWAC Avalanche
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| |-+  May 2014 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  May 11, 2014, Ann, Heather, Maple, Rainy
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Author Topic: May 11, 2014, Ann, Heather, Maple, Rainy  (Read 6440 times)
Charlie Hagedorn

Posts: 1892

May 11, 2014, Ann, Heather, Maple, Rainy
« on: 05/12/14, 12:05 AM »

Short version: Headed for Black, but consolidation concerns led to a shorter tour. ~12" of not-yet consolidated snow needed a few more melt-freeze cycles to turn to bomber corn. On the descent to Rainy Lake at ~10:30 am, ski cuts entrained the top 1' with ease.

Longer: Susan and I camped at Colonial Creek, then up to Rainy Pass at ~6:30. Met Ryan and Eric (?), who left ahead of us, also for Black. Easy ride up to Lake Ann, following an existing skintrack. As we reached Ann, it became clear that the new-ish snow hadn't consolidated, with a 1-2" soft breakable crust over ~10" softer wet snow. The trip up to Heather Pass showed more of the same.

We skinned across the pass, noting the downhill tracks of the vanguard; we could see them donning skins far below at the base of the traverse. After hemming and hawing, our votes for proceeding were one for and one against, with our concern focused on our ability to return safely out of the Lewis Lake drainage in the coming afternoon heat. The veto prevailed, but it was hard for both of us to turn around.

We followed the old skintrack up to Maple Pass, then along the ridge to the northern shoulder of pt 7178. The North Cascades served up wonderful views in all directions. Dropped down the sun-baked east-trending valley toward toe of the Lyall; small cornice plops and cliff sluffs were active as we skied gooey chunder.

Reaching the headwall above Rainy Lake, we traversed hard left, then sidestepping upward to avoid more cliffs. To our surprise, we heard voices, then encountered two skiers coming up. We traded knowledge of what was above for knowledge of what was below -- thanks! Based in part on their advice, we continued our line down a drainage toward the lake. Susan led the way, cutting deep slow slides on a broad ramp above more cliffs. As we reached the lake, the slop turned to breakable -- at least the lake was skateable.

Back at the car much earlier than planned on a sunny day, we hiked to May Creek beside Ross Lake. Notable to skiers was avalanche debris that managed to reach all the way to the East Bank Trail in one spot, and the beautiful coverage on Ruby. If you can stomach the thrash, there's snow up there.

* vanguardHeadedToBlack.jpg (187.48 KB, 800x600 - viewed 999 times.)

* TracksAboveRainyLake.jpg (179.86 KB, 800x600 - viewed 991 times.)

* RubyFromMayCreek.jpg (196.91 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1014 times.)
« Last Edit: 05/12/14, 03:11 PM by Charlie Hagedorn » Logged


Posts: 148

Re: May 11, 2014, Ann, Heather, Maple, Rainy
« Reply #1 on: 05/15/14, 09:54 PM »

Update on Black conditions: 4 days later, it sounds like not much changed. We hoped it would have consolidated some since your report, but it was not to be. At least it was later into the thermal cycle and the natural avys had already flushed themselves out, so we only had ourselves to worry about. We were able to summit, but the skiing mostly involved ski cutting wet slides and/or sticky mush.
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