Went out with Steve to do a shakedown run for my upcoming trip to Shasta. I wanted to get out and get some exercise and get on skis in Spring snow to get to make sure I was up to the task of skiing a few volcanoes later this month.
The original intent was to skin up and ski the Slot Couloir. We got a lazy start in the parking lot while deciding on which ascent route to take. We eventually wound up on the Cave Ridge trail which was surprisingly not too bad this time of year. We skinned a few hundred feet before putting the skis on the packs and booting up the trail after the continuous snow disappeared. The most difficult part about heading up the trail was my skis getting caught in the alder. It was a nice morning and the ground was covered with dozens of blooming trillium. At some point the trail broke from the alder below the cliff band and we hit continuous snow again. We traversed left and crossed the creek then continued up snow on the other side. Shortly afterward, we broke onto cave ridge.
We took a short break and discussed caves and ski slopes in the area while determining which way we wanted to continue upward. We opted for the ridge and headed upward, still on boots. We enjoyed the sunny day and the somewhat cooler temps and breeze as we ascended. Eventually reaching the summit, or summit area. Steve contends the it may be the rocky outcropping to the east that is a little higher. We hung out on the summit enjoying views of the middle fork valley and attempting to identify peaks out in the distance.
We then got our skis on and skied down to the top of the slot. This ended up involving a short down climb as we stayed high and kept to the rocks. At the top of the couloir Steve surveyed it and said it looked good. Throwing some snowman heads down the couloir did not set it off. But I was not skiing well and didn't think I felt up to the making the turns for the constriction in the steep part of the gully. After some debate we opted to ski the Phantom Slide back to the car.
Steve and I leapfrogged managing wet sloughs that came down. The lower we got the less there was as the upper mountain had probably received 10-12" of snow in the past week which had not yet consolidated or bonded with the rest of the snow pack. We skiied within a close distance to the top of the waterfalls, and then booted through the woods to get back to the Snow Lake Trail. This involved two short down climbs through some cliff bands and cleaning up a rap anchor in the woods. Back to the car where it was around 70°!
This was a fun trip and demonstrated how much of a weekend warrior I have become. It was more difficult than it should have been for me. I think it would have been easier if I was in more regular practice. Forgetting sun block, was only a minor inconvenience. As well as forgetting a camera. Not being able to predict how hot/cold it would feel left me wearing pants that were too hot for most of the trip and putting on a shell for the descent to stay warm (overheat.) But these are the sort of things I needed to fine tune to think about for later this month.
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