March 10, 2013

Snoqualmie Mountain

It appears Spring is here, or at least doing a brief cameo appearance.  Taking advantage of the beautiful weather, Molly, Evan, Ava, and I went up to Snoqualmie Pass to attempt, yet again, a ski descent of Snoqualmie Mountain.

Clothing accessories can be a dead giveaway that it's springtime

 We found the skinning to be fairly technical on steep, icy terrain.  I'm generally not an advocate of ski crampons, but there's no doubt that they would have been useful today.

Skinning up the west side of Snoqualmie Mountain

The views of Rainier didn't suck

. . . neither did the views of Chair Peak
At the top, we considered making a lap off the backside or skiing the Slot Couloir, but the tracks made by previous skiers revealed about 3 inches of powder snow over a sheet of ice, making these steeper lines less appealing.

Everyone loves summit ski descents

We ended up skiing back down the way we had ascended and hit the snow just about right: earlier, and it would have been too icy; later, and it would have been too softened by the sun and warm temperatures.  On the way home we stopped at Seattle Bouldering Project to top the day off with a bit of gym climbing - good times.

Real Ski Photos

In lieu of an engagement shoot, part of the standard package with our friend and photographer, Matt Pool, we opted for a backcountry ski day.  We suggested the idea to Matt a while back, and managed to convince him it was a good idea for him to haul his not-so-light camera equipment and follow us around for a photo-documented day of skiing.  We scheduled the day far in advance, so the fact that we had over a foot of fresh snow and were rapidly accumulating more was luck of the draw.

Matt with all the gear we made him carry
When all was said and done, Matt did an incredible job of both capturing the day and getting some amazing action shots.  The photos can be viewed at: http://mattpoolphotography.smugmug.com/Clien/Ava-and-Josh/Engagement.  Matt also put together his own blog post with a paired down selection of the photos at: http://www.mattpoolblog.com/ava-josh-backcountry-engagement-session/.

Montana!

For about the last year or more, Ava and I have had a bit of an obsession with Montana.  This manifests itself in many diverse ways.  One example of this is that after battling through Seattle traffic for an hour in order to travel about 5 miles, we'll state matter-of-factly that this would never happen in Montana.  At any rate, we finally committed to a road trip in which we would spend 4 days skiing in the wonderfully underpopulated state of Montana.

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Our first stop was Missoula, where we headed toward Lolo Pass in search of snow cover.  While most of the Rockies were suffering even more than usual for a solid snowpack, the situation seemed particularly wanting in the Missoula area.  We drove the Impreza up a snowy Forest Service road slightly farther than we reasonably should have.  Unfortunately the road was the only part of the hillside with snow on it, but we managed to have a good day out anyway.

Aerial Snow Starfish
Then we were off to Bozeman, where we had booked a place on Air BnB for the duration of our trip.  Over the next three days, we encountered nuking snow storms, blue skies, and came a long way in terms of figuring out the backcountry ski scene in the Bozeman vicinity.

First Peek at Deer Creek Peak

Deer Creek Peak Summit (me sporting a front rat tail)

Shreddin' Hella

Backside at Lick Creek
The snowpack was pretty consistent, with one to three feet of snow over about 6 inches of facets making for predictably unstable conditions everywhere.  Relatively cool air temperatures were great for powder preservation, so even when it wasn't snowing we had plenty of powder snow to ski on.  In four days of Montana backcountry skiing, we saw only one other backcountry skier, and that was in the parking area.  For the most part, it was hard to even find tracks from previous visitors, and this was on a holiday weekend. It's safe to say that Montana was everything we'd hoped it would be.