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Author Topic: 12/8 Pineapple pass -Terrible skiing; good weather  (Read 2102 times)

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12/8 Pineapple pass -Terrible skiing; good weather
« on: 12/09/07, 11:05 AM »

Summary: Terrible skiing. But fun playing in the snow. Avalanche debris on most slopes >25degrees. 1-2" of new snow >4500ft.

I had hoped to go up to Camp Muir this Saturday. But I didn't manage to find anyone to share the ride with. As I woke up on Saturday I felt a need to get some turns in, but going on my own I decided to stay close to home and avoid anyplace which might involve unpredictable snow conditions or risk of navigational mishaps.
So I headed up to Snoqualmie Pass. I drove by Summit West and noticed they had a lift running. I don't know if it was for the public or just for employees (patrollers, lifties, instructors) to do some training. Since I didn't feel like skinning up among the crowds on the Summit West slopes I turned right towards Alpental.
The snow on the Alpental slopes looked bad, so I started skinning up towards Source Lake instead. The snow was rock solid. I kept my skis on except when crossing a few streams, but in retrospect it would have been faster, easier and better or the skis to just walk with them on the backpack (that's what I did going out later).
As I got to Source Lake it was obvious that there weren't any turns to be had there either (see the picture), so I headed up towards Pineapple Pass.
Pineapple Pass offered 10-15 turns on top of 1-2" of new snow covering avalanche debris. In short: terrible :-). I had lunch up here while watching two climbers descend the Tooth (see picture).
Since there was plenty of daylight left and I didn't think there'd be worthwhile skiing anywhere (as expected), I decided to go investigate something I have wondered about several times: Is there a simple way to follow the ridge from Pineapple Pass to the Alpental ski resort? I started by walking around the first peak on the ridge (5456ft) to the North/East. Then I hiked up to the ridge again to look around both sides of the next peak (5518ft?). I couldn't figure out a way to get around it which would feel safe without roping up, so gave up.
If anyone knows of a way to traverse that ridge with just hiking + skinning, I'd be interested to hear about it. Perhaps that becomes possible only with more snow? The only possible option I could see would be to drop down in the valley to the West and then hike up to the ridge again. But I wasn't quite in the mood for that kind of epic (and I'm sure the Alpental Security folks wouldn't have appreciated my car being left in their parking lot after dark).
Since I was already investigating the terrain around here, I decided to see if there might be a short-cut for getting down to the South Fork Snoqualmie River valley from the ridge without going all the way back to Source Lake. Walking in you see a few shutes which would be possible to descend with just crampons + ice axe. I had seen a group of 6-8 people practicing snow field belays in one of those shutes earlier in the day.
I walked down from the ridge to the point where the terrain turns vertical. Then I followed the topographical line between ~45degrees and steeper going north (since I'd eventually run into the shute which leads down to Source Lake that way). After ending up in a few situations where I wished I had a rope and more climbing gear to be able to really see if there might be a navigable shute below, I realized how much harder it is to find these shutes from above than it is to find them from below. So I gave up and hiked north and then down the shute towards Source Lake.
I headed out tired but happy and reached the car around 4.45pm. There were 3-4 other cars there and a Security guard waiting in car, presumably to ensure that there wouldn't be any cars left after dark, possibly indicating that someone might be in trouble.

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