Avalanche Mountain + Snow Lake Divide
No pictures on this one...sorry.
Kyle McCrohan, Logan Heine, Michael Telstad and I headed out to Avalanche Mountain in the Alpental backcountry to hunt some glades skiing, which we thought would hold nice powder in the Sunday storm front. Kyle and Logan had attempted to ski the Oyster couloir the day before and found that up higher the snow was light and fluffy, but sluffed off the rain crust very easily (12.9 interface). The skinning had been icy at times, and they anticipated that the snow falling on Saturday night into Sunday morning would stay light, so the skinning would likely be treacherous, again.
Michael and I met up with Kyle and Logan at 8 AM in the Alpental parking lot, getting a bit later of a start to allow for some more snow to accumulate throughout the morning. We headed up towards Source Lake, just ahead of NUMEROUS groups...everyone seemed to be heading for Pineapple Pass or Source Lake.
At Source Lake I DESPERATELY needed to do some boot maintenance. I had inserted some extra foam into my boot to reduce heel sliding, but I had put the foam too low down on the foot, which was now pinching and applying pressure too much towards the bottom of my foot. It really hurt, to say the least. I clumsily took around 10 minutes at Source Lake to fix the issue, ripping the foam out of my boot, as Kyle, Logan, and Michael chatted with the crowds that passed by.
Surprisingly enough, once we climbed up to the Snow Lake Divide, we didn't see anyone anymore. We were the first tracks down to Snow Lake; I guess everyone was sticking with Pineapple? But there were so many goods to be had! We skinned east across Snow Lake, the lake frozen over and covered with a few inches of top layer powder, heading for the lake basin beneath Avalanche Mountain. There was a creek crossing but it was easily manageable over a sturdy snow bridge.
From the lake, we started to switchback up towards Avalanche Mountain, Kyle leading the charge and cutting trail in very treacherous conditions. The snow simply sluffed off the rain crust, leaving icy conditions underfoot and making for lots of sliding, slipping, and groans. We were trying to make our way to the southern ridge of Avalanche Mountain, but once we got there we found the ridge was iced over, rocky, and we just decided to boot. We made it up to just below the summit and then clicked in.
The slopes off Avalanche were a bit too steep to hold the snow over the rain crust, and we certainly bumped the crust a few times. We popped in and out of the trees and found some goods to be had, for sure. We decided to ski down towards Snow Lake and take some laps off Snow Lake Divide, rather than repeating that mess of a skin track.
To our amazement, NOBODY had touched many of the shots off Snow Lake Divide. WHAAT? It was the afternoon, in Snoqualmie, in one of the most popular backcountry zones. Well, more for us. We did two laps off Snow Lake Divide before heading back in for the day.
Snow was still coming down when we returned to our cars, and the week ahead looks RIPE with new snow! A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE? Maybe...