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AOM (Alpental on Monday) #1, January 26, 2004

When the guys at NWAC advise people to stay out of the back country and stick to lift skiing, it's not a bad idea to take it seriously. Monday the 26th was such a day, with 1 to 3 feet of fairly heavy fresh over a two-week old rain crust and/or surface hoar. It was still dumping with the baro dropping and the temp rising, classic high avalanche conditions for the Alpental basin. Mike and I decided to play it safe, and skinned up from upper lot #1 following an earlier well-established track.

The going was fast thanks to the guys ahead, who had put down an aggressive track up the Fan (one group peeled off to do Shot 6). A pit dug on the steep under Chair 2 revealed a weak layer (surface hoar) about 24-26" down on the leeward slope, prompting me to decide to ski cut the top of International (Russell and Peter's line, under the rope at very top) before charging it. I yelled at O'Brien, already in the bowl, to move out of the range of the chute, and a 14-16" slab peeled off cleanly about 100' wide and tumbled into upper 'Nash as I dropped in.

Traversing into lower International produced easy cracking in the snow surface (and this over terrain that was open for business 16 hours previous!). Nevertheless, we got in their daily quota of face shots without any more major movement of the snowpack, enjoying 20 inches of fluff in Upper International, with perhaps even more in lower Adrenalin.

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