Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hyak - 12.20.08

What a difference a week makes. Although not in temperatures. (Telemetry shows the temp at Hyak today never exceeded 8°F during the time we were there.)

Julie and I headed to Hyak for a skin/ski trip. Snoqualmie has not yet opened Hyak or Alpental, due to "lack of snow." While it was adequate for skiing, it was probably not suitable for commercial skiing. A few more feet should hide the remaining conifer tops and all the alder. We decided on this location due to the 'short' drive, and moderate to high avalanche danger. Also, there was a "deadly" storm scheduled to hit later in the day, and we wanted to be home before that.

There were quite a few people out with the same idea. But, not as many as I saw last week at the Silver Basin. There was about a dozen or so "backcountry" skiers there. Probably a half dozen Nordic skiers and a few snowshoers. (Or is that slowshoers?)

The idea was to skin under the Keechelus Chair and then figure out what made sense for the descent. Under the chair was somewhat skied out, but it was the obvious line. There was a nice skin track on the way up, and we had no issues arriving at the top. At least that is what I thought. Julie lagged behind a bit, but I believed it to be because this was her first skin since the spring. When she arrived at the top, she explained that her back was bothering her and she was unsure about how the descent would affect it.

After some mulling about, we decided to descend under the chair. (The way we came up.) Julie was interested in attempting some powder as she did not have great success last season with deep powder. I too was interested, as my ski day last Sunday was less than ideal. We took our time on the way down with a couple of stops for Julie to reattach her ski. Near the bottom, we took the cat track as it didn't have as many alder branches sticking through it. (It didn't have any actually.) It was an alright run.

It was now 10:45am. Due to her back, Julie did not feel up to another run. I negotiated with her that I would head up and be back to the car by noon. To my surprise, I was able to skin all the way to the top and have a nice run back down in time to leave the parking lot at 11:55am. The second run was really nice for me. I was able to link turns and build some speed. I crashed once and arrived back at the car with snow pouring out of my clothes. I skied well.

(Photo by Julie Labrecque)
My photos are here.

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