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Author Topic: April 29, 2006, Folklife Tour  (Read 23227 times)
Lowell_Skoog
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April 29, 2006, Folklife Tour
« on: 04/29/06, 10:05 PM »

Skied around Chair Peak today. Soft, wet snow conditions. I'd hoped to extend the tour by bagging a peak or two, but it didn't seem a good idea, given the sloppy snow.

The basic route (Alpental, Source Lake, Pineapple Pass, Melakwa Lakes, Melakwa Pass, Chair Peak Lake, Snow Lake, Source Lake, Alpental) was safe enough. Keep away from steeper side slopes until we have a good freeze. I looked at the Bryant-Hemlock gully to cross the ridge, but didn't like the cornice hanging over it, so I took Pineapple Pass instead. From Chair Peak Lake down to Snow Lake, I sluffed the gully before skiing it. With care it was not a problem.

I skied across the SW edge of Snow Lake. I've always felt that skiing across snow covered lakes in the Cascades in spring is safe if the snow is white and you can't poke your pole down to obvious water. That was the case today, and the crossing went fine. If anybody knows this isn't safe, please let me know!

The lifts were running at Alpental and there seemed to be plenty of snow there. I encountered heavy rain on the drive home after my morning tour.
« Last Edit: 04/29/06, 10:12 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
normanclyde
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Re: April 29, 2006, Folklife Tour
« Reply #1 on: 05/13/06, 08:31 AM »

I took the same tour yesterday.  Conditions varied widely.  I started quite late, heading out from the parking lot at 11 AM.  Crust was supportive and a little suncupped heading to Pineapple Pass.  The cornice at Bryant-Hemlock is still there.  Light sugary snow fell intermittently.  Near the top of Pineapple the ice was still hard enough to make even zig-zag skinning a challenge without ski crampons.  The west side was likewise icy; I confess I booted down a few yards rather than risk a tree collision if I slipped the first turn or two.  The west slopes down to Melakwa Lake were the best of the day: ice barely softening to corn.  Summits were mainly in the clouds, but Kaleetan showed itself long enough to entice me to skin up toward its summit.  After a few hundred feet I decided I didn't have time to summit, given I had evening obligations.  I had a tricky traverse across icy 50 degree treed slopes to regain Melakwa Basin. 
By this time a half inch of fresh had accumulated on open slopes, which was so sticky as to preclude the need for skins on ascent.   About forty vertical feet below the pass, the new snow abruptly became less adherent, a development I welcomed as it would likely smooth the descent.  At the crest I scraped my bases thoroughly, but still found the first few turns to be a trial, as the sticky fresh layer alternately grabbed and released.  The gully between Chair Peak Lake and Snow Lake brought these conditions to a climax: at one point, as I surveyed the world below from a steep vantage, the fresh layer slipped and I found myself sliding edgeless, bases packed with snow.  (Wax would have helped a lot.  Too bad I don't use it.)  Below the gully, conditions softened dramatically, with no corn to be found on the North side of the pass.  I crossed the lake, which has some blue spots at its edges but solid snow on the rest (I could not penetrate to the ice with my poles).  There were a few nice turns to be had above Source Lake, where a party of three had just set up a tent, planning the same tour in the morning (they must be on it right now).
I encountered no significant instability, but only minor sluffs.  The sticky layer was the hardest part.  Given that last night was clear, there was probably a good freeze.  This weekend it ought to be good.
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