All of this was further reinforced yesterday when, because of a few smart decisions and lucky breaks, I enjoyed amazing powder turns while another more experienced group only a short distance away, because of a few bad decisions and/or shitty luck, spent the day digging out of an avalanche (picture one, two).
This winter's been strange. One week we'll have -22* and hoar frost; the next week we'll get a Chinook wind and 33* freezing rain. All of this has wrecked havoc on our local snow pack. A week and a half ago I noticed numerous natural avalanches at lower elevations. Yesterday's avy report warned of isolated instabilities at mid elevations.
Nonetheless, with temperatures hovering in the 25* range and a layer of new snow--the type of whether we've been waiting for--a crew of us set out for a few turns yesterday. Fortunately, we recognized it was time to be cautious.
The Wife getting started:I wrote about a couple weeks ago. This place is well known for its predictable conditions and safe slope--the sort of place you should go to when things are sketchy.
Here's Megan (killing it on her first real backcountry tour) and Doug charging up the skin track:
Our skin up was pretty ideal. Doug heard some significant whumphing at one point--which was consistent with our various warnings--but I saw no first-hand signs of instability. Once we got above the trees, things seemed to firm up.
Roughly 1500 feet up, the pitch steepened:
Megan and Doug getting ready for the turn:the best, but definitely was in the top five. Of course, you'll have to take my word for it because I didn't get a single picture of the main face. To busy skiing to get a decent picture, I guess.
Evan, after skiing down the top pitch:
Me, coming in for a landing:
Megan and Doug:
The token group shot:
At this point in my typical blog post, I'd close with a picture of a beer and write something about how awesome the day was. But, in this case it seems odd to have enjoyed such wonderful lines so close to where another group had such a terrible, possibly life-ending experience--all in the same day. My group obviously made good decisions (starting with the decision to go somewhere familiar that had a reputation for being safe) but still. . .
. . . here's to making good decisions . . . and having however much luck is required.