Snoqualmie Mt., April 14, 2009
Mid-April already, and skiers are starting to feel withdrawal pains. They sense the end of the powder season, and it causes them sorrow.
A little barrage of winterish weather on Monday night gave me hope of fresh, and I quickly arranged with Kevin to meet at the Alpental employee lot around 9 AM for a trip up Snoqualmie Mountain. Several other people had the same idea, and earlier than us - there were a half-dozen or so cars in the lot and a nice skin track already in when we arrived. Monika was a few cars away and came over to say hi, but had some friends with new-baby syndrome to ski with, so we geared up and went.
The skin track was a beauty, quite steep but smooth, and for the most part the new snow gave us excellent grip. I'm sure thankful for the Comfort heels I slapped on my winter skis this year; the climbing post helps a lot with getting weight over the rear of the ski when the going gets steep.
We made excellent time with the weather going in and out, and at about 5,800 ft. Justin Davis skied by - he's a regular dawn patroller and had already done his Slot lap and was headed down to work. He told us that several people I know had been with his group (we had seen Benj Wadsworth descending with a buddy as we headed up the Phantom) and they were thinking of taking another run in the "Not Slot."
When we got to the Slot entrance, it looked like 4 or 5 people had already dropped, but as is often the case with the Slot, sloughing snow had partially filled in the tracks and it looked good.
Knowing that today was a work day for both Kevin and myself, we didn't waste time but stripped the skins and side-slipped into the run without delay. The snow was both thick and fairly deep, and required concentration to stay out of the back seat, but none of the icy crust I had been sort of expecting could be felt. Five inches of snow on the Alpental side translated to over a foot of new in the north-facing Slot, and it made for nice turns.
The snow in the middle section and the fan was slightly less deep, but smooth until the bottom, which was littered with buried avy debris. No problem, as long as the visibility was OK. We applied skins and headed toward the west ridge saddle with the visibility coming and going; not a problem as Justin had put in a "take no prisoners" skin track and the others had packed it down to perfection.
Coming back down the Phantom, the top produced some nice turns in quickly thickening new snow, while from about 4,500 ft. down it was quite a workout. We passed on the sketchy-looking waterfall and instead poked our way out through the trees to the parking lot. Smooooth sailing, nice turns, chatted with Brandon K. in the lot, and headed back down the hill to work . . .