Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chair Peak Pub Crawl

Chair Peak, WA
"pub crawl"
December 17, 2006

check out this, the official awesome chair peak pub crawl video

Avalanche conditions were going to be tricky today, we knew that much. A foot plus of new snow had fallen on top of the crust from a week ago, and there were reports of graupel at Snoqualmie Pass. We decided at the parking lot to give the Chair Peak circumnavigation a go because weather was stable and visibility was very good. When we reached the steep slope up to Bryant Col, Pete dug a shovel tap test and found the 4 inches of snow sitting on top of 6 inches of graupel to slide very easily and then a one foot slab of new, consolidated snow to slide moderately easily on the week-old crust. So we bailed and skied back down to Source Lake. We skinned back up into the bowl we skied last weekend with the intention of climbing up to the ridge and dropping down onto the Snow Lake side. We climbed up the lower of two notches on the ridge, but when we topped out, we found we were cliffed out.

Back down the way we climbed we skied, then just picked the nicest looking lines around the east side of Chair, working our way around finding the easiest pickings. Hence we dubbed it the "pub crawl." We wound up getting about 4,200 feet of skiing in on mostly untracked powder with the occasional crusty section, which translates to a pretty good day.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Chair Peak

Chair Peak, WA
Short Ski Tour
December 10, 2006

Reports of bad backcountry conditions left us with low expecations for the day, but we decided to park at Alpental and head on up toward Chair Peak and see what we could find. On the optimistic end, we hoped conditions would allow a Chair Peak circumnavigation. On the less optimisticl end, we figured we could take laps at Alpental, or if things were really bad, get breakfast at the Pancake House.

We did not do the circumnavigation route because we were having beacon issues (random switching to search mode -- not to worry, it's been shipped back to the manufacturer) and time issues (needed to be back by 3 or 4), but we did end up in one of Chair's upper bowls after following a recently made skin track up a steep chute through clouds floating in and out. Part way up the bowl, we dug a couple shovel tap pits and found some marginal conditions in teh snowpack. Loose powder below a sun crust 12-18" below wind-deposited new snow. We were on a pretty mellow slope, so we took a run on it, and it turned out really nice, so we took another run on it, then headed out. After picking our way through the trees, we found our way into the chute again. We skied one at a time down the chute down to the lower angled slopes below, where we found more nice new snow on a firm crust. Far better skiing than we were expecting. Coupled with the occasional, unexpected views we were granted, it turned out to be quite a fantastic day!

Other Links:
+ Pete's post on TAY