Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mount Roosevelt - 04.17.10

Steve called me up Friday night and asked if I was doing something Saturday. I wasn't and he proposed a ski into Mount Roosevelt. The weather might be a little wet, but we weren't expecting great snow conditions either.

The great thing about living in Seattle is on one day, I can sow seeds in my vegetable garden, and the next I can be out skiing in the mountains. The next may bring rock climbing in 70° weather.

We headed out fairly early to the trail head, and were on our way around 7:15am. We were the only car in the upper Alpental lot when we left. We made fair time to Source Lake due to our inability to start really cold in the parking lot. The skin up the track was easy as it was not super icy and gave just the right amount of traction. We stopped at Source Lake to marvel at the avalanche debris now burying the lake. (It was not even completely frozen when Jennifer and I were there six weeks ago.)

Once leaving the lake we had difficulty setting a skin track in the wet snow. Steve had better luck, but I could not match the steepness of his track as my skins would not afford me the traction and I consequently kept sliding backward. After popping a ski off in some avy debris I bare booted up a steeper section before I put my skis back on and met up with Steve waiting for me. We made good time across the ridge and were soon de-skinning for the short descent to Snow Lake. Unfortunately I haven't been skiing much this Winter and it showed with my slowness and constant stopping. Once at the lake, we returned to skinning across the lake to Mount Roosevelt.

The snow on the lake was more firm and had a breakable crust. Cold air must get trapped down in the valley? We marveled at some rocky buttresses and some ice climbs that looked like they may still be climbable. On the other side of the lake we started uphill toward our objective. At some point I think Steve started getting frustrated with the near constant back slipping and looked at the time. It was 10:30. We made a decision to call it due to multiple factors. One was that we were going slow because of conditions. Second was that the skiing wasn't going to be all that good. And third, the snow conditions were becoming more hazardous with warming temperatures and impending rain. We decided to head up slope to some larger trees that would be our turnaround point. A brief food break and we were ready to descend. The rain had arrived and we knew the snow was only going to get worse for skiing.

We had a fairly enjoyable run back down to the lake before donning our skins and crossing it once more. (Steve roughly measured our lake crossing at a half hour.) We skinned back up to the ridge where it appeared to raining a bit heavier. Although never much more that a constant drizzle. We got to a high point on the ridge and had a fairly fun ski back down to Source Lake. The snow was getting wetter and many of our turns on steeper terrain resulted in small wet sloughs. Due to the avalanche debris above the lake, we had to do a side stepping traverse below the lake to get back on the track out. Once there we tried to maintain speed on our way out.

While I wasn't expecting great skiing on this trip, it was better than both of us had expected, and that was a good thing. Unfortunately, it just wasn't worth it to continue higher, especially after it started to rain.

Pics are here.

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