Mt. Roosevelt, January 19, 2008
It was Saturday, ski school was in session, and parking at a premium - but a new system was rolling in and there were already several inches of fresh snow on the ground when we rolled into Alpental lot #4 around 8:30. I saw Seth strolling up the road, but he said he would rather walk than ride. Strangely enough, there were no other BC skiers parked at the Source Lake trailhead, only a couple of cars belonging to a group of Boy Scouts who had just snowcamped somewhere up the trail and were hauling out sacks of bedding and empty chili cans. Kevin and Frank were in as well.
We cruised out the trail quickly, hoping to get past Source Lake before any slackcountry skiers or boarders made it out that far, and only encountered one skier. He was pretty hard to miss, as he was clad head to toe in fluourescent orange. There was a good skin track in already up the Chair Peak basin, and we followed it up and over the notch to Snow Lake.
A short ski down to the Lake over some varied soft snow with a bit of frozen avy debris, then back on with the skins to traverse the length of the lake. With the snow coming down hard and visibility down to about 100 feet, comparisons were made to various Arctic expeditions, but it went much more quickly for us. At the far end of Snow Lake, Frank decided he had had enough, (correctly) surmising that the much ballyhooed views from the top of Mt. Roosevelt would not be forthcoming on this particular day, and decided to turn around.
On the trek up Roosevelt, Seth took the lead as usual. The guy is a "skin-track makin' machine" and a real asset to any ski touring group. Boy am I glad to have him join our crew this year. We dug a pit at around 4,900 ft. and found about 2 feet of consistent heavy fresh on top of the rain crust from earlier in the week, with good stability under compression and a moderately clean shear at the crust. Perhaps of more concern was the copious quantity of snow sloughing off the cliffs above us, which regularly wiped out our skin track. Seth put the hammer down and we spaced out on the final push up to the summit of Roosevelt, which only had room for two of us at a time - the back side was a steep plunge into fog, and the surrounding cliffs, when we could see them, were quite impressive.
How about the "down?" Except for the extremely flat light, there was some great skiing to be had. Four inches of fresh atop a breakable crust at the top turned to over a foot of nice powder in the middle and bottom sections, where the terrain was smooth enough not to require perfect vision. If anyone had been able to see us, there would have been some nice tracks. We sped back across Snow Lake XC style, and Seth again broke trail up to the saddle. We got in another set of decent turns on the way back to Source Lake, where we began seeing signs of civilization (lift skiers from Alpental) emerging below Draft Dodger Ridge . . .