April 21, 2001, Hidden Lake Peaks
WA Cascades East Slopes Central
Four of us left Bellingham early, clutching our lattes and feigning alertness. Snow is blocking the Hidden Lake Peaks road at about 2600 feet, 800 v.f. and maybe two miles before the trailhead. Snow coverage is much deeper than up at Washington Pass, and snowmelt looks like it is about 3 weeks ahead of last year, which in turn was a month ahead of the year before that. We climbed most of the way to the ridge (7000 ft.) in brilliant sunshine and gorgeous views one member of the party shirtless, the rest of us sweating furiously before clouds built in. Skied one run down very pretty terrain on the other side (towards The Triad and Eldorado) in alarmingly flat light but reasonable wet snow on a firm base. I found some surface sluffing at 40 degrees, and pockets of deeper isothermal snow releasing on my ski cut at 45 degrees. By the time we climbed back up to the ridge, what the weather service prefers to call "fair-weather cumulus" had built into snow squalls with wind, whiteout and lightning, so we dropped down into better visibility and the long run back to the car. There was outstanding skiing on something which greatly resembled (but could not have been) creamy powder, more outstanding skiing on something which will soon be corn snow, a couple of shots of slop followed by some steep slop, then refreezing, crusty slop mixed with avalanche debris which, it must be noted, appeared to present no problems to anyone but my hefty self followed immediately by some rather desperate thrashing through the trees, out onto the road and to within a quarter-mile or so of the car. By this point there was general agreement that we had done the right thing by deciding against clambering back up for another run or two, having had quite enough vertical for the day. In fact, we all looked fairly stunned, and! lots of moans and groans were shared around. Conversation seemed to falter quite a lot on the drive back, since members of the party kept falling asleep in mid-sentence. Certain plans and promises were made for next weekend, but no one got anything in writing.