Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April Fools day wins in Boulder creek

Leah near the summit of east Boulder peak.
I returned to east Boulder peak with Leah to attempt a new couloir in the Mary cirque.  Unfortunately, mother nature threw a trifecta of April Fool's day tricks on our way:

1)  Snow on the northerly aspect had crusted just enough to be treacherous.  Any more would have produced nice firm conditions, any less would have left dense settled powder.  Any other aspect would have either been skiable firm snow or corn.  Ah well...
2)  New wind slabs were just deep enough to be scary.
3)  Rain line from Friday and Saturday was high, around 8,000 feet.

After the normal, enjoyable climb to east Boulder peak, we suited up in harnesses and dropped in.  It soon became obvious that safe skiing conditions were just not happening, so we packed it in and booted up and out.  We ended up skiing the Blue Ice bowl as a consolation prize.  The snow quality was fair, and it was cool to check out another 3,500+ foot peak to creek fall line.  The Boulder creek trail is melting out quickly, and we spent about a third of the deproach clomping out on bare ground.  Our decision to turn around was a good one, and I found this article on risk from Will Gadd to be spot on.
Leah skiing the Blue Ice bowl.
Negotiating avalanche debris.  This debris was all from natural avalanches in the
past few days.  Beware of Moderate avalanche danger! 
The warm temperatures and rain of last week went a long way toward ending the normal Bitterroot ski touring season.  I will likely spend a few more days exploring new terrain and/or skiing the normal spring classics, but it is pretty much time to branch out to the normal spring skiing locales.  As a result, I'm formally sending a shout out to all the amazing mountain ranges within striking distance:  Swans?  Missions?  Tobacco Roots/Pioneers/Big Hole/Pintlars?  Idaho?  Tetons?  Canada?  Get your spring corn cycle thing going, and I'll be there.  Should be a great spring season!

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