Snoqualmie Mt., March 12, 2008
It was drizzling on Tuesday and I had two memorial services to attend on the weekend, so Wednesday looked like the only day to ski this week. Kevin had been dragging numerous friends to ski the Slot and Crooked Couloirs over the past week, so I called Mike O'Brien and Kevin called Frank. As we arrived in the bottom lot at Alpental (lot # 0?) Frank was headed our direction, but we told him we were planning on skinning out his back door, so we went back to the condo.
Right at the base of the Phantom, we came across a couple of skiers, Carl and Tara, who said they too were headed up to the Slot, so we joined forces on and off ascending the trees looker's left of the slide path. They were super fit and kept up a mean pace even with big K2's and NAXO NX21's! I slipped while skinning over some ice in the forest and put too much leverage on my right arm, dislocating my shoulder (an old problem, but one I hadn't had to deal with in about 11 years). I was able to put it back in the correct place by grabbing a tree limb and having Kevin and Frank pull me backward from my torso, so I downed some Ibuprofen and hit the skin track again.
Unfortunately I slipped on the open face near the top of the Phantom and dislocated the shoulder for a second time, now with Kevin rapidly disappearing up the hill and Mike and Frank quite a ways down. Tara asked if I needed help, but I was able to fix the problem by taking off a ski and sticking the tail into the snow to hang on to. Whew.
We made the top in a fairly speedy 2 1/2 hours, then chatted with our new friends and snacked for a bit. Kevin, who seems to prefer the Crooked, decided to ski that way with Frank, and I decided to take Mike, Tara and Carl to the Slot.
The top of the Slot was uneven rain crust from the day before, which required some careful turns and slipping to get through, but once into the steep section we found 8 to 10 inches of wind-affected fresh, which made for some nice turns. There were a few icy surprises mid-couloir, and chunky avalanche debris in the apron, but nice tracks were laid down by all. Kevin and Frank reported similar conditions in the Crooked after a slightly icy entrance, but no air was required to get into the upper bowl and there was some nice snow (if slightly less deep than the Slot) in the middle. The narrow crux is well filled-in this year, and not a problem.
Skinning back up over the West Notch went quickly, and Kevin skinned the entire way up, rain crust and all, with only one minor slip to wake Frank up. We navigated the heavy and sticky sun-drenched slopes of the Phantom, skied the waterfall more or less cleanly, and adjourned to Frank's for beer and brie.