Forums Trip Reports TR: Mother Nature Lifted Her Skirt… (pic intensive)
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    178 Posts

    This past Tuesday and Wednesday, revealing some pretty damn good early season conditions in Silver & Avalanche Basins at Crystal Mountain.

    Day 1: I was joined by IAOFM (It’s Almost Over For Me) and Kaia. Temps were in the low 20’s and with the wind, in the teens. Coverage this early in the season is always a mystery. Snow depth varied from a 2-3 feet. 12-18 inches of that was blower up top. Below was 6-8 of blower. With the cold temps a nice layer of hoar has developed which should be interesting after the next dump. I hate a pineapple express but we sure could use one to get rid of this nasty hoar with big crystals.

    Pictures are worth a 1000 words so…


    Kaia and IAOFM skinning in Silver Basin…

    Untouched Silver Basin…

    Mystery about the coverage solved.

    Kaia and IAOFM at the saddle…

    Right after this picture was taken it really socked in. Kaia and I dug a shelter to keep warm and hunkered down while IAOFM just jumped around like a bum with a bag of quarters at the Lusty Lady. After a quick snack we killed all the time we could before we just said fuck it let’s drop.

    IAOFM’s first turns of the season…

    Kaia’s first turns of the season…

    After our first run the sun and clouds set up some of the most spectacular scenary I have witnessed.

    Then all of a sudden the clouds parted and the sun returned.

    IAOFM’s second lap of many…

    Austin, a freeheeler, going deep and looking for some rocks. None here…

    How did he miss those rocks? Lucky bastard doesn’t even wear knee pads.

    Being Kaia’s first trip out in a while her leg’s said no. 🙁 So she offered to take my camera and play photog.

    Snoslut sequence (photos by Kaia)

    IAOFM and Austin skinning…

    IAOFM with another lap right next to my skier impressionist tracks.

    After mastering the art of spooning, the damage from day one…

    The moon…

    Refreshments for a job well done…

    Was able to ride to the bottom but I did get tackled by some vine maple. Doah! Kaia skied to the new bridge across from the Alpine.

    Day 2: Today it was just IAOFM and me. My buddy Rob showed up but lost an important screw on his Burton interface. He swore he was on his way to buy a setup with a Voile interface. Hope that worked out for him. Anyways temps today were just a few degrees warmer, maybe mid 20’s. However a bit more of a breeze today so it felt just as cold as the previous day.

    Today’s tr is brought to you by the maker of this beanie…


    Breakfast run…

    Rainier shot…

    IAOFM partial sequence…

    Sometime in between laps we stopped for lunch…

    Post lunch chute…


    IAOFM and I just worked from one chute to the next. Apparently our buddy Nate and crew carved some interesting lines threw some of the rockier chutes the day before. IAOFM was like I told you we should have done those. Well they baked in the sun all day and you see those lumps? Cancerous.

    Eventually a group of 3 showed up. One of them hauling skis on his back. He was stomping out our skin track. That behavior didn’t last long. They took 2 laps and were gone but not before destroying our skin track. Then Super Dave came along and rebroke the broken sections. Thanks!!! Well it was time to seek out a new piece of land anyways. Up to the King we skinned. Some tracks down the backside showed that somebody got some core shots. Tip-toed down Lizards, still lots of rocks. Dave, IAOFM and myself found ourselves ontop of Appliances. Only one track down it and plenty room for more. From the top you still didn’t want to turn too hard as IAOFM found out. Took DFF out which was sketch the lower you got. I took a turn and found myself board sliding down a log. Down to Elizabeth Lake followed by a quick stomp put us back on Queens run. Cats chewed up most of the run but some untouched pow, 6 inches worth, on the sides. Still lots of creeks to hop over.

    Clouds spilling over Bear and Pickhandle Gap…

    Job well done…

    Words on conditions from day 1:
    Telemetry confirmed teen temps in the am. I would have guessed as my breath froze solid onto my beard. The key was to keep the face moving. In the afternoon temps rose slightly, in the low to mid 20’s. A pit was dug around 6400 on a north facing 30 degree roller. At this particular location snowpack was 2 feet to the ground. 6-8 inches was light density powder sitting atop of good forming crust layer to the ground. The 6-8 inches brushed away with easy.

    As I continued skinning towards the east, I noticed how quickly the conditions changed about 30 feet away. Here I encountered 1-3 inches of surface slab that just crumbled away, revealing 6-8 inches of low density powder. Hello wind. At times it was hard to get purchase and keep myself from sliding backwards. Maybe my 5 year old skins need some refurbishing. As I cut west and started to traverse up the north facing saddle the conditions changed again. Snow was deeper, easily a foot plus. With each step, I penetrated down to the crust layer. Sometimes the crust layer was soft allowing for good purchase, other times firm and making it a bit slippery. All this time the snow atop stayed put. No sluffing as I kicked turned with my wide planks. I cut the trail in the shade and did my best to avoid the sun touched surface. After the last switchback, going east again, I encountered more of the 1-3 inches of wind slab as I neared the ridge top. On the ridge top Kaia and I dug a shelter. Easily 3-4 feet to the ground, though the depth had to do more with location, location, location.

    Our first run produced minor sluffing that ran halfway down the slope. That’s because we couldn’t see and IAOFM felt a little off balance, being his first turns of the season and in powder mind you not. For the remainder there was no sluffing. Just carving fast fall line turns without a care in the world. Felt like mid-winter. For the most part any terrain that was convex in nature had a crust that could be felt. Terrain that was concave in nature felt bottomless.

    Conditions on day 2:
    Temps felt a bit warmer, maybe mid-high 20’s but a stronger breeze made it feel colder. With cool temps and absense of clouds a fine layer of hoar started to form. Something worth noting later on. Terrain that saw any sun started to consolidate a few inches from the day before. There was concern over a soft sun crust, but in the early morning it was non existent. Even on slopes that saw sun the previous day. However as the day lingered and the sun baked it was more evident. Especially as we worked our way west around the bowl and at the chute entrances. Below it didn’t matter. With enough speed and weight the soft sun crust didn’t stand a chance at enprisoning the powder trapped below. I’m free they exclaimed, in great billows of cold smoke.

    Eventually we worked our way to the top of Silver King. Dave, IAOFM and I decided to descend via one of the shoulder chutes, Appliances. The snow depth on the ridge leading down was deceiving so we tip-toed down to the entrance. The chute entrance looked boney in spots. Dave and I got lucky but IAOFM found some peppa. Rest of the chute was primo. Well preserved powder. Once we got to Damn Fine Forrest it got a bit sketch. IAOFM found a nice unobstructed line while I took a turn and found a log to board slide down. Down to Elizabeth lake it was a short boot to Queens run. Cats had chewed most of the run but left the sides. Roughly 6 inches of pow in an uneven base. Enjoyable but cautious.

    IMO they still need at least a foot plus to open just the basic runs.

    1666 Posts

    It hurts seeing this TR as I work with no snow to ride.

    Looks super.

    570 Posts

    Looks just way too nice!! Great TR….living vicariously as our cover is here but the no-base board destruction is impossible to avoid so far.

    40 Posts

    Excellent photos, snoslut. Haven’t seen you since crystal-fest. We should get out sometime; can you bring your photographer along? 😉 Will be looking to head to the crystal areas as soon as chinook pass closes. Looks like Tophervw and I will be heading out to Naches for one more day tomorrow, 11/25.

    178 Posts

    Just drop me a line. Have fun at the pass. So many options there. I’ll be doing some recon around the Crystal vicinity tomorrow.

    EDIT – Just added some words on conditions.

    4149 Posts

    Good stuff.

    and if your score wasn’t enough did you really have to rub it in? 🙂

    affix snow
    521 Posts

    Damn fine. 😀

    327 Posts

    Well played….

    178 Posts

    bcrider wrote:

    and if your score wasn’t enough did you really have to rub it in?

    Nope I guess. But being my first successful back to back days and first real test of doing switchbacks after my injury, I was a bit (okay really over) excited. Next test will be hauling the weight of overnight packs. Maybe sometime next year after I get my leg a little stronger.

    I really do miss the classic bcrider tr’s along with the slue of others that usually grace this site by this time. WTF’s up wit dat?? Nomad mentioned that Montana might be getting the love higher up?? Nomad??


    1113 Posts

    @snoslut wrote:



    awesome tr, thanks.

    98 Posts

    Damn fine work slut! Sooooo jealous.

    @snoslut wrote:

    IAOFM with another lap right next to my skier impressionist tracks.

    You know, not all of us skiers are spooners. 🙂

    112 Posts

    Nice first day of the season – damn those shots (both types) look fine.

    thanks for the TR.

    Can I say it enough, that I miss the good ole PNW?

    17 Posts of the finest postings ever…thanks for taking the time to pull that all together

    323 Posts

    way to get after it before that crappy storm.

    when seattle-ites decide to head north let me know :thatrocks:

    1165 Posts

    Wow. Excellent. I really need to get out, now…

    440 Posts

    Excellent TR. Thanks for the leg work posting, great shots.

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