Home > Trip Reports > December 23, 2001, Hauser Peak, Crystal Mountain

December 23, 2001, Hauser Peak, Crystal Mountain

WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
Posted by ema on 9/16/02 10:35pm
A gaggle of probable BC Skiers turned into three by the time we got to the trailhead. Wow. We were the only car at the "upper C Lot" where we usually park for skiing the eastern ridge at CM. "Where is Everybody?" We were a little later than usual; normally there would b 4 to 8 cars by then. We decided they must have forsaken skiing for xmas shopping. Later - it turned out to be the case - we saw 2 other skiers the whole day, as opposed to 2 weeks before when we must have run into 50. Hmmm -- no one to out-fumble for trail breaking pleasures like last time. But then again, no trail breaking! The Gold Hills road was impeccably groomed. Our best guess was there would be lots of nice uptracks up the east ridge from yesterday in the freshies from Thursday and Friday, which turned out to be the case. The weather was what you dream about for a ski tour - clear, calm, 25 - 30 degrees.

Snow pit evaluations validated our earlier suspicions that the 6 - 8" snowfall from Thursday/Friday was the only layer we had to worry about which failed at a 3-4. We dug down to the November crust which had a pretty rotten layer above it but the stuff above it, for a couple of feet or more, was near bomb proof. Seems like it would take a major pineapple express now, to soften the pack enough to slide down to that layer; at least where we were. As it turned out, nothing moved anywhere, except for some very light wind transported 2 - 3" surface layers, from the day/night before, which we later kicked around on the way down.

As we got towards the top of the ridge the snow became more sculpted; it was obvious that the wind had come from along the ridge from south to north, as the telemetry had indicated. Cement basin beckoned us from the top; our strong suspicions were that it would have been very fluffy and light on that side, being somewhat protected from both the wind and sun. There was also a pair of nice tracks down and a well laid uptrack back up, both of which we drooled over. But alas, with dark coming at 4:30 we lacked the time to accommodate the temptation.

The snow down the front side was fantastic in the most highly variable nature; windpacked sastrugi at the top; then wind crust but skiable; then no crust but heavy from sun settling; no, wait, light in the shade; smoother corn-like in the lower sun slopes. Ahhhh it was all good. Then top it off with the road groomer ski right to the car. All in all, a stellar ski day. See for yourself; check out the pics here.

Ron Jarvis

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2002-09-17 05:35:59