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February 6, 2003, Table Mountain, Baker

WA Cascades West Slopes North (Mt Baker)
Posted by Charles on 2/6/03 9:17am
After despairing of finding soft snow, we received some timely (and very accurate) info from Mark, and Mike, CharlesW and I headed for the end of hwy 542, where we found mostly great snow conditions and blue skies all day long. Shady slopes from the parking lot to the top of Table Mountain had 4-10" of cold and very fluffy snow well bonded to the refrozen pack underneath, and there was widespread surface hoar. More than just a hint of sun exposure had resulted in varying types of crust, none good, and surface slides had been coming down the south side of Mt. Herman.

We skinned to Austin Pass on a freshly groomed track (the upper base of the ski area was closed, so this was very peaceful) and emerged into warm sunshine, then followed a skin track west to the base of the upper Table Mountain cliffs. As did two skiers just before us, we abandoned dropping into the north slope where we had hoped because of the signs - stiff wind-packed snow and fresh looking debris. We went back east a little bit and sent a probe skier down a gully, which, it turned out, didn't have much fresh over the rain-crust and gave the probe a little ride, so the other two bailed into the next gully, which was better. Once below the cliffs the snow was perfect down to the flats.

After lunch in the sun, one went to try out some snow at the west end of the flats, while two went straight up the first run we had hoped to ski via a perfect staircase of steps. The two's snow was merely very good (a bit tracked up), while the one's was great, so we then headed that way. We followed another staircase upward, and after that ended, hiked up snowboard tracks (surprisingly firm) surrounded by more loose and fluffy snow. On top of Table Mountain we soaked up more of Shuksan, spotted peaks, and then headed down for the best run of the day - all shady, virtually no wind effects, and nice terrain variations (sorry, there are probably names for all of these places, I just don't know them).

Thanks Mark!

Edit: There are photos from this trip on turns-all-year home page now, through 2/17/03; then the photos will be here.

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2003-02-06 17:17:37