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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:12 pm 
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I dunno what I was thinking... at the time it seemed to make sense. :) From a time point of view, it probably was the fastest way to get from where we were to the top of Babycham, but I dunno if I'd recommend it. We stuck to the edge of the chute, out of the "good snow". When we were close to Babycham, a couple skiers did come down in the bowl entrance to the cross...


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:36 pm 
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OK, here's the official jimw TR:

So after hitting Halls of the Gods trip and Crescent couloir the previous couple of weekends, I didn't think things could get much better. I was wrong. Larry and I were planning on checking out Mt. Tallac on Sunday. I reasoned that the last storm would have dumped some nice fresh snow, and that after Saturday it would have had time to settle. Roman (dibiase) called in to join at the last minute, and it was on.

Sunday morning I met up with Larry in Tahoe City. We had planned to drive down 89 and meet Roman at the trailhead. Except that 89 was closed at Emerald Bay for avy control. Gotta love that, in the middle of April! As bcd said... WHEN WILL THE MADNESS END??? :)

Since we had to drive around the lake the other way, we ended up picking up Roman in Meyers. We got some good early morning views of Tallac along the way, and it was definitely looking good. My goal was to hopefully hit The Cross and/or Babycham, depending on conditions. And if that didn't work out, with the wealth of terrain that Tallac has, I was sure we'd certainly be able to find something good. And if not... you can't beat the views!

Tallac from across the lake
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View of the NE face of Tallac from the road, with The Cross (#1) and Babycham (#2) marked
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Due to the detour, we didn't get on the trail until around 9 AM, but things went pretty fast thanks to a nicely set track. We had a nice view of Babycham on the way in. It was looking good. The front chutes were looking nicely filled in as well.
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Group hug - splitboard, snowshoes, and AT represented!
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Did I mention that the front chutes were looking good? Check out the sweet line down the hanging face into the central chute:
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At about the halfway point, Larry and I had to stop to de-glop the skins. I had been having a hell of a time slipping in the skin track, working too hard, swearing, and basically acting like a splitboard spaz. So much for my attempt to convert Roman to the wonders of splitboard efficiency. At this point, Roman took off on his snowshoes, and we didn't catch up to him till the summit (which he arrived at about 45 minutes before we did - bastard! :)). After de-glopping, Larry's skins immediately glopped up again. I think the de-glop wax made it worse.
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Larry checking out potential lines. So many lines, so little time! Larry didn't feel up to gambling with The Cross that day, so he ended up taking a line pretty much right in front of him in this picture - down skiier's right edge of the summit bowl, through the trees to skiier's left of the hanging face, and into the bowl below the front chutes. He then climbed up to the ridge and got some great powder shots in the trees.
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Larry on the traverse over to the notch below the summit. There was a patch of icy snow here, and I spazzed out on the splitboard yet again - even with the crampons on I slipped and went about 20 feet down the hill. At that point I got out the Verts and put the board on the pack... which is probably what I should have done from the start. It seems there are definitely times when the splitboard is not the most efficient way to get up, and this seemed to be one of those times. So far, for me it seems that the splitboard is most useful on long, relatively mellow approaches without a lot of terrain changes, or in deep powder. Or multiday trips where the added weight of a board on the back can start to add up over the days. On the other hand, I could just be b*tch-squealing because I was having a slow start...
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When I finally made it to the summit, I took in the amazing panoramic view. Here's a shot looking south, with Halls of the Gods in the foreground, and Roundtop in the background upper right.
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Roman and I went over to check out the entrance to The Cross. There was one track in it. The entrance looked pretty damn steep, but the snow seemed good.
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Here's Roman checking out the entrance, and cross-checking (so to speak) with THE book. I tried to talk him into riding down the spine just to his left and airing over the rock into the chute. I was kidding, but I think he seriously considered it.
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Instead, he opted for the sane entrance :)
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Droppin'
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Turnin'
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and burnin'
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I dropped in after Roman was safely down. The snow was amazing! It was deep and consistent, and easy to turn in. There was a lot of sluff though, and I had an instant up top where my sluff was pushing me down the slope. Good time to practice sluff management 101. The turns were money though, and about 20 seconds later I was down at crossarm. Roman and I had ear-to-ear grins, and we just kept looking back up at the tracks. What a run!

It must have affected my thinking, because for some unknown reason I thought it would be a good idea to climb back up to the entrance to Babycham. I could have sworn that I read about someone else doing that in some trip report, but I now believe that I must have been smoking something. In retrospect, it probably *is* the fastest way to get to the top of Babycham from there, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it...

Anyway, since I had the Verts, I broke trail through the sluff. Otherwise it would have been a postholing nightmare for Roman, who I'm sure was having second and third thoughts about this anyway, seeing as how he had to use the old-skool board-belay method. We climbed up to the little group of trees midway down the cross. This last section was dicey, as the slope was over 50 degrees and the snow was getting baked.

Verts, don't fail me now...
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Roman old-skoolin' it
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From the trees, the traverse over to the entrance to Babycham was relatively "easy". At this point a couple of skiers came down the bowl entrance to The Cross (skiers left of where we entered) and traversed into the chute. We cheered them on. And wondered why we were going up and they were going down.

Roman almost done with the traverse, with entrance to The Cross in the background.
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As you can see in the last pic, there was a lot of sluff, especially on the sun-exposed aspects. Fortunately, Babycham is protected and north-facing, so we figured the snow would still be good, even when we finally got our butts up there at about 2:15 PM. Looking in, the snow did in fact look great.
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Here's another shot looking back at Babycham that I found in another Tallac trip report from a while back. I think joesnow might have taken this shot? This is nice because you can see the entire chute.
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We took in the amazing views. Here's a shot looking directly across from Babycham at some other unnamed chute which will have to be done sometime (but, um, much earlier in the day...)
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I dropped in, and found the snow to be even better than in The Cross. It was epic! I made a few turns down to the dogleg, then paused to asses the rest of the chute, since you can't see it all from the top. The bottom section looked reasonable enough. The sketchiest part was the exit through the choke, since that's the narrowest and steepest part, but it turned out to be fine with this great snow. I stopped and set up for snapping some photos of Roman. Here's one, but I was really too far away for a good angle, plus the sun was shining almost directly into the lens.
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I *soooo* wish I had my camera in video mode at that point, because the footage would have been priceless. As you exit the chute, there is a little bit of a rib to skiers left. Well, Roman figured he would do a little air over that rib. He pulled a nice indy grab, but you could literally see the "oh shit" moment unfold midair. The rib was small, but at that steepness, even a small hit can keep you in the air for a while. Longer than he intended. He went probably a good 20 feet, then... BAM!! He ragdolled down the slope. Not just a normal ragdoll, a seriously airborne one. There must have been 5 nice crater holes where he impacted and then became completely airborne again.

Here's a shot midway through the incident. Notice the flying snowshoes at left.
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I like this one because it looks like he's doing some rad fakie shredding through a slide... but he's still ragdolling
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The aftermath. He was fine, and said it was "fun". Ah, to be young and flexible again...
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Real excited about hiking up to get those snowshoes...
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At this point, we got back in touch with Larry, who was lower down on the ridge to our left. He was planning on doing a tree run, then heading back down by the skin track. Roman and I decided to just continue straight down the drainage and traverse back to the road at the bottom. The run from there out was just plain fun. The snow had an interesting texture, kinda like it had started a bit of a melt/freeze cycle. The top was a little hard, but easy to punch through and turn in. It made a sound like ripping nylon as we zipped across it.

Roman exiting the sluff zone
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and entering the fun zone
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Looking back up at a good day's work
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Once we got to the flats, we just took off the boards and walked (did I mention today was not a happy splitboard day?). The snow was surprisingly firm. After a while, there was a bit of a downslope, so we strapped in and got in a few more turns, and some smacks in the face from various branches. Before long we made our way to the main skin track, and met up with Larry at the car. We had some beers and celebrated another epic day.

Oh yeah, don't want to forget this brief word from my sponsor:
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 10:27 pm 
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Location: West Shore, Tahoe
Um, did you consider that 89 was closed at EB for a reason? I'm glad you guys had fun...those chutes are classics. Still, I hope you realize that you were rolling the dice. You'll get away with these kinds of decisions about 80% of the time around Tahoe. If you're OK with that then play on, but some of us won't be so happy when we're double-baggin' you guys off the mountain.

Life is too short to die in an avalanche.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 12:06 am 
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Um, yes... though the tone of that TR may have downplayed the fact that 89 was closed for avy control, it was a BIG concern in the back of my head. I skipped out on bc altogether on Sat for precisely that reason. I've had enough avy training to at least know better than blindly jump into something without at least checking out snow conditions in similar aspects on the way up. The snow in the areas and aspects we hit was stable. It was starting to sluff a lot more in the south-facing aspects, and I think that (afternoon heating) was more of a danger on this day. AFAIK 89 was closed at EB from activity on the previous day and opened later in the day.

I do appreciate the concern though. I'm sure we all can use a periodic reality check and reminder that it CAN happen, even in the Sierras (witness the Mt. Tom incident), even in the spring, and that we need to be diligent.


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