With a Sunday afternoon to spare, I made a speedy go at the Pinball Wizard gully. I went in to it well rested, and with a skin track in all the way up, was optimistic about fast conditions. After a few minutes of warmup, I started pushing at a reasonably hard pace. The climb went quickly for the first two thirds, although snow squalls did lower morale a bit, and reports from a ski party about cold wind on the summit had me wishing I had brought a second pair of gloves. The upper mountain greeted me with surprisingly cold and biting wind, and I had to stop several times to layer up and deal with frozen fingers. In any case, I only lost about 10 minutes to clothing and cold finger shenanigans. From the summit, I took advantage of stable conditions to safely use the quick route, which takes a detour around the N. side of the last gendarme. From there, one can rip skins and make a big downward ridgeline ski and traverse to the head of the Pinball wizard. My fingers finally warmed up, and I was served a full helping of screaming barfies, but they eventually subsided, and it was time to ski.
|Your classic ski shot from near the top of the Pinball Wizard.|
The skiing was great for the upper two thousand feet, and reasonable for the lower thousand. On the ski out, I passed Andrew and Jeffrey, who were deproaching from adventures further up drainage which included a lot of skiing, one broken pole, and two broken skis. Otherwise it was an uneventful exit. I made it back to the car in 3.21, ten minutes faster than my previous fastest time. It would be reasonable to cut ten minutes off, and I can't help but wonder if a sub-3 hr loop is possible with good conditions and some fierce suffering on the climb.
splits for future reference: First road crossing: 15.30, trailhead: 44; upper saddle 1.24 summit 2.00; Start skiing 2.35. Car 3.21.30.