Kendall Ridge, April 10, 2007
I was dragging myself out of bed at around 8:45 after a typical return from work at 3:00 AM when Kevin called to see if I was skiing on Tuesday. It was a battle of will to keep from returning to my still-warm bed, but after reading Amar's e-mail (out the door and headed to Crystal!) and checking the Alpental telemetry (4" new) I kicked myself figuratively in the butt and started preparing a cheese sandwich and coffee to consume on the way up to the pass.
I jumped in the car with a half-liter Nalgene of triple Americano (no milk left in the fridge), threw the glacier gear under the seat in case I was late coming down and needed to head straight to glacier travel class, set my tub of fresh fruit and sandwich in the passenger seat, and hit the road. Around 10:30 I pulled up in front of Sahale, beating Kevin by a good five minutes.
Four inches of fresh over semi-frozen corn made for clean and smooth skinning on the way up Commonwealth Basin, and we found reasonable spots for the two river crossings. A hard frozen layer further up the mountain made for some tricky skinning, but neither Kevin nor I opted for ski crampons even though I slipped once and fell heavily on a protruding stump.
Once out of the trees and into the avalanche path part of the trip, the snow depth increased to eight or nine inches in many places, and our spirits were lifted by sporadic glimpses of the sun. Toward the top of Kendall Ridge the cloud cover rolled in again and snow began falling, but it was obvious from the skin up that if we chose our line carefully we should be in for some great skiing.
Winter-like conditions at the top combined with poor visibility convinced Kevin not to bring out his Andrew McLean rope set up to dangle off the cornice, and time constraints didn't allow for exploration of the steep couloirs on the north side of the ridge, so we decided it was time to ski.
I guess the pictures tell the story of the descent - nice pockets of a foot or more of fresh snow, with frozen or soft frozen corn underneath. Definitely not the sort of thing to complain about in the second week of April. We cruised out along the river without falling in and made it car to car in less than three hours.