April 2, Steep Skiing with Seth

Seth has been isolating with his family in their condo at Alpental.   With perhaps one of the best backyards at the pass, I figured it was time to give him a call.   You know, just skiing in the backyard.  Seth had his eye on a line that was a little steep.  We rolled out of bed early, and watched the sunrise as we made our first climb.  Snow is still holding up good on North aspects.  Our first lap was a hoot.  Our second lap was a little steeper, and got our heart rate elevated.   After careful first turns, slope opened up and skied awesome.  Check this run off the list.

April 1, 2020 Mt. Catherine

Hooked up with Greg again to do a tour starting from the house.  With more and more pressure to not recreate in the woods, we thought we would stay in the backyard.  Luckily I have a big backyard.
RISK  -  A situation involving exposure to danger.  Social media seems to be condemning those who ski or hike in the woods as selfish and too risky.   I say if you want to look at a risky activity, go to Costco or ride public transit.  I have always strived to self isolate in the backcountry and will continue to do so.  I mean, who wants to go skiing where the slopes are all tracked out.  Mt. Catherine is one of those places that is just far enough away that I can almost always find fresh tracks after a storm.  Today we were the only group that skied off the summit ridgeline, and the snow was excellent.

March 30, 2020 Alpental

Sometimes you just need to get outside....

Greg gave me a call as he drove over Mercer Island.   I was busy painting a closet with Francine.    Damn, thank God that Greg called and got me out of the house.   I pulled up to Alpental at noon.   Greg was fully geared up and ready to go.  I guess he didn't have much traffic on the drive to the mountain.   We quickly headed up the ski hill.  As we crested over the top of the Armstrong Express chair the thin crowd got thinner.  Only two skiers were ahead of us, heading to the top of chair 2.

  We opted for the International side for our descent and got first tracks.  Probably one of the best descents down International that I have had.   Absolutely no tracks, no people, no rope lines.  Just Greg and I and a foot of powder that chased after you as you pointed your skis down the fall line.

Lower International skied pretty good as well:

Couple more shots taken by Greg:

After skiing Lower International, we toured up the cat track to the top of the Armstrong Express and toured up the ridge looker's left from the unload station.  Normally out of bounds, with no ropes or patrol we had virgin territory to explore.  After a short climb we dropped the short pitch back to the front side and headed for the cars.  What a great day to get outside.

March 20, Red Mt.

Hooked up with Crispin for our first trip into the Commonwealth Basin this season.  The objective was the iconic Red Mt., elevation 5,890 feet.  Red offers a big face for lots of turns.   Easy skinning led us up to the lower slope of Red.  Just above treeline we strapped the skis to our backpacks and continued on to the summit by foot.   It took us 3 hours from car to summit.   We attained the summit right about noon, then chilled out for about a half hour as we let the snow continue to soften.  Firm turns off the summit led to perfect creamy turns on the lower slopes.  Great day to be out in the mountains.

Crispin nears the summit

Two other skiers, chilling on the summit

Mt. Thompson

Firm turns off the summit

Creamy snow down low.  Avalanche debris from previous day

Red Mt. Elev. 5,890.        2,870 feet above pass level

March 15, 2020. Silver Peak Basin

Silver Peak  
Solo mission out the back door to Silver Peak.   It was a beautiful day out there.  Dropped home on a North facing chute that had very thick wind affected powder.   Probably should have done the easy basin ski.  All downhill to below Rockdale lake, then one last climb over to the frontside.

view from my highpoint, at the top of Silver Peak Basin

Apparently the groomer drove all the way up into the basin
 for some kind of rescue

Looks pretty, little thick, especially up higher

Stopped at Nordic Pass on my way to Silver

Ollalie Meadows with Granite in the distance.
  Lot of wind affect on the snow.

March 8, 2020. Avalanche Peak

Kelly making the final drop to Snow Lake after our ascent of Avalanche Peak

Thanks to motivation by big brother, Kelly, we planned a ski tour over to Snow Lake, then up to the summit of Avalanche Peak.  We were accompanied by Kelly's friend Eric, who was trying to get in shape for the Wapta Traverse, near Banff.  With extremely low expectations, due to the lack of new snow, we hooked up at Alpental at 8:30.   As usual, the parking lot was already getting full.  The uphill end was loaded with avalanche course participants, guided by Pro Ski Guiding.  The crowd of the parking lot was quickly left behind as we headed up on perfect sunny day.  The snow felt great under our skis, and as we skied up to Snow Lake Divide we began to realize we would actually have good skiing.   We had nice turns down to the lake on the protected North slop[es, then begain winding up towards Avalanche Peak, Probably about 3/4 of the way up we switched to boot packing, as the four inches of new snow was sitting on a crust that did not encourage easy skinning.   Especially as the  slopes were getting steeper.  Booting was difficult due to the thin crust not really supporting our weight.   We persevered, though, and gained the ridgeline with views of the slot and crooked couloir.   After a quick trip to the summit we enjoyed excellent skiing back down to the lake.  Great day to be out in the mountains.