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 Post subject: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:31 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 13, 2005 8:05 am
Posts: 1515
Location: 395
Sadly, this was only my second day on my splitboard this season due to this being the worst winter I've seen since I moved to the Sierra in '93 (this also being the worst of the worst last 3 years in a row I've seen) . I decided to go to one of my favorite areas for a day trip from Reno. I knew it had snowed a few inches the day before so I hoped to find some good snow up high. I didn't know what to expect as far as avy concerns up high. I've been keeping up on ESAC but the observations are few and far between to go off. I knew I'd play it conservative and dig before I commited to anything steep. Being out of splitting shape and not having my mountain wits tuned in yet, I definitely had some anxiety going solo even though that's my preferred way to do backcountry.

I arrived to Twin Lakes at the perfect time:
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My plan was to go up and tentatively climb and ride "ski dreams" or some lines near it. It's a great line to start off the Eastside season and makes for a great tour up Horse Creek Canyon. After some of the shittiest skinning conditions (wish I had my ski crampons) You are quickly up in the alpine and rewarded with excellent views. Ski Dreams is the obvious chute on the left:
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Once you hit 10k feet there was about 3-6 inches of pow on top of a giveable crust which made for primo riding. Above 11k you started to run into ribs of wind crust and more variable types of snow. But still good. Here I'm just getting out of the death crust and into the pow:
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I always take a break in this spot. You have a lot of touring options at this point. The Twin Peaks area is to the left and a there's bunch of nice lines in the middle I want to hit but never do:
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I thought I saw what might have been a crown in ski dreams from way down low. Once I popped over a rise to get the first close view I was taken aback at the carnage I saw:
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There were at least a couple big slides here as there were some big debris piles poking up around this last debris field. I really wasn't sure when this thing went last. Some of the debris looks newer than others and the debris was really soft as you can see by my tracks:
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This is usually the exact way I skin into the side of ski dreams to avoid exposure which is funny seeing how it's exactly where it crowned. Needless to say I was spooked at this point even though the "official" ESAC rating for the day was LOW. I knew not to put any stock in that seeing how it was Considerable less than a week ago. I dug around and did some compression tests just above the crown and could only get a CT25 Q2 96cm down in two different columns. I then isolated a couple columns right into the crown face and got a CT14 Q3 17cm down and CT18 Q2 33cm down. I'm no avy expert and but I'd think a CT18 with a Q2 at that depth was saying "hey asshole, I probably won't slide, but do you feel lucky?" I really need to get my ass into an Avy II course. I dig pits but sometimes I don't feel like I know what the hell I'm looking at. Regardless, I didn't ride anything steep. I was psyched out at this point (I had also just read about the Terminal Cancer incident the night before just to finish off any ambitious thoughts that might be floating around in my head)
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The next bowl adjacent to this one showed the same past activity:
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Time to ride!:
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Since I didn't want to give people the wrong impression that snowboarders were smart and responsible I dropped this powder filled terrain trap down lower :wink:
Kidding aside, I jumped around on it and felt it was stable. The snow down this low had warmed up a lot more than 2k feet higher and was now frozen underneath a nice silky layer of pow. I was still freaked out so decided to bomb it fast and made plans to duck into some crevasses on the canyon wall. I dropped in hot and made 4 turns and glanced back to see that no dragons had awakened and then I proceeded to enjoy the funnest run of the year! :D I'd swear God made this gully especially for snowboarding. So fun!!
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So stoked! I really wanted to do another lap but the skin track takes a long route around to the top and I was spent.
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Another fun zone with some cool gullies in the area. If I would have known I would have just set up a track to do laps between 10-11k where the good were:
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Looking back up Horse Creek Canyon:
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And I lost one my verts on the way out! :cry:


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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:31 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:09 pm
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Location: Colorado
That's some beautiful terrain and nice pictures. Looks like you had a great day out there.


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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 10:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2008 7:38 pm
Posts: 400
Location: Eugene and Coos Bay, Oregon.
Sweet BG. That gully looked great!

That was a big slide. Looked recent. I wonder if it was from the wind / couple inches of heavy snow event on Thursday or from earlier in the week just after the big storm. We just saw a relatively recent slide today at the Mammoth Crest. There is still depth hoar around in different locations and last week's storm produced weak layers in the storm snow, but they have not been reacting in ECTs.

That seems to be the pattern. We have been getting weak layers showing up in compression tests and shovel shear tests over the last six weeks in the top couple of feet of snow, but have not had any propagation in our pits on our ECTs in the Mammoth, June, and Virginia Lakes areas (we are avoiding the day right after heavy snow). There just has not been a slab that will propagate. There is quite a bit of difference in the snow profiles of the different areas though and it would not surprise me to find a dangerous snow pack somewhere. Rock Creek seems to have low snow and a poor profile. Mammoth Crest seems to be the most stable and deep overall. June is somewhere in between.


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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:36 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 11:01 pm
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Location: June lk
Awesome pics. Looks super fun.

That area is kinda in the no-man's land avy forecast-wise. I *think* the forest service is trying to have a forecaster in Bridgeport (mainly for snowmobilers around Sonora, etc.); something to keep an eye out for in the future.

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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:10 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2008 7:38 pm
Posts: 400
Location: Eugene and Coos Bay, Oregon.
Up in Virginia Lakes today. My second line on a north facing gully with shallow snow had an ECTN at the bottom but half way up I got three ECT6s in row. 8" of wind slab over small grained facets from the last storm. Luckily the slope was still 31* at that point. I got out of there. The avy danger is quite variable depending on the drainage.


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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:30 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:48 pm
Posts: 675
Location: Kodiak, AK
Brilliant pics and phenomenal terrain. Too bad your honey hole ripped huge. Maybe next time/season?

Kodiak is having an epic poo snow season too. :nononno:

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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:33 pm 
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Location: Tacoma,WA
That's lemonade out of this lemon of a season right there. Nice score

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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:57 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:43 pm
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Beautiful pics, as always.


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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:03 pm 
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Location: Stoketopia, CA
Nice Brooks, Stoked to see you are out shredding the gnar.

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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:11 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:57 pm
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Location: Los Padres NF
love the sawtooth TRs...jewel of the eastside. Thanks for sharing.

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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:58 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 3:40 pm
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Location: Aurora, CO
Beautiful pics of an awesome looking spot!
Hope your guys' season starts looking up.


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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:30 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:33 am
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Location: Salt Lake City, UT
great pics! That last gully-chute thing looks super fun.


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 Post subject: Re: 3/07/14 Matterhorn area-Sawtooth Range-Eastern Sierra
PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:37 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 6:35 pm
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Location: Ithaca, NY
That first picture is fantastic! Great colors.

Looks like a good time out for sure!


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