Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 1:15 am Posts: 18 Location: Seattle
Hi guys... I'm mainly a lurker on this forum, but I had a pretty swell day out in the PNW mountains yesterday so I thought I'd share...
Nick and I wanted to do something exciting this weekend, and originally got really excited about going to Eldorado or something similar... however, our planning started at noon on saturday over coffee, so we opted for a less committing, but still adrenaline-pumping line. We've seen lots of trip reports and photos of this PNW classic, so we were stoked!
Our planning was pretty careful... we thought maybe too careful, but the avy reports were warning over and over about wet slabs coming off south-facing slopes despite the cool temperatures. So, instead of going up the usual south side of snoqualmie, we opted for a scenic route around past snow lake. Neither of us had done many descents like this before, so we thought it was a good idea to go up the couloir in case there were any particularly hairy spots. The couloir is north-facing, so we expected some powdery goodness on top of a breakable rain crust...
The hike in was awesome, views of Chair etc... and dropping in to the basin below the north side of snoqualmie is quite majestic. We booted up the slot and were very excited to see that our estimates of what conditions we would encounter were pretty much dead-on. At the top, to our dissappointment, we met two more skiers who were just getting ready to descend... so we didn't end up getting first tracks. We were both fairly nervous about the descent, but it went without a hitch (I only had to excercise my self-arrest skills once...) -- our planks broke through the few inches of powder easily and sometimes scraped on the crust so it was a bit technical nevertheless, not to mention the frozen chunks of avy debris hiding underneath the luscious powder on a 45-degree slope (yikes).
We booted up half-way the slot again for a second run on the lower section that had slightly more consistent snow, and then debated whether we should return via our approach or descend the south side of the mountain... unknown territory and reports of cliffs above the lot convinced us to go via our approach route... which would have been fine had we not tried to cut a shortcut (what else would you do when you're dehydrated and tired...) which forced us to do the most extreme skiing of the day on rotten snow, and ended in some interesting backcountry techniques... On our way out we saw quite a few natural wet releases and were happy with our choice of return route, even if it took a bit longer.
We were both elated to have skied this classic line and treated ourselves to some yummy mexican food in Issaquah...!