As I’m new to this area and not terribly experienced w transitions from the typically-low-consequence “loose wet” to often-high-consequence “wet slabs” (esp on top of seemingly natural glacial ice bed surfaces?) much less “snow bridge failure” points, I figured I’d submit a few occassionally embarrasing obs from yesterday while calling out the forecast daytime highs and lack of overnight freezes in the days/weekend ahead.
Including pics for this summary:
Departed Timberline around 8:30am on a mostly bluebird day. No expected overnight temperature-based freeze at most elevations, but clearer skies and intermittent light-to-moderate winds (and the prior night’s fairly hard freeze) kept things reasonable, safe and (at least for awhile) stable.
Left the climber’s trail above Palmer to recon White River Glacier crevasse/glide crack status and headwall stability by skinning up the ridge/edge of Triangle Moraine). At DK, used ski crampons to ascend up to/along Hogsback for a bit, though may have been unneccessary. Bootpacked a bit further, but without axe and boot crampons decided to transition at the Bergschrund, or more likely - and I admit unintentionally - ON the Bergschrund. Plenty of recent tracks leading THROUGH the slowly cracking bergschrund, so may still be safe for awhile, but no expert here and most folks won’t be work-flattening transition spots.
After very gingerly completing the second half of my transition, I skied a completely snow-stable route back through DK and a mostly snow-stable line to a mini saddle along Triangle Moraine. On the ski traverse over to Illumination Saddle, I noticed what seemed to be a crown up on West Crater Rim…but it also may have been a ski traverse shedding similar to what I triggered under Illumination Rock.
The bergschrund bw Reid Headwall and Leutholds Couloir aprons is opening fast. Other crevasses on Reids still seem well-covered, albeit w some suspiciously sagging divots (again, no glacier or Hood expert here).
In interest of finding a good line to ski under Illumination Rock, I traversed a bit, completely underestimating the likelihood of shedding at a slow speed (apologies to the bc skiing community for a completely avoidable shedding event). I immediatly descended the last shedding path to minimize damage, but Wy’East still delivered my comeuppance via a mid-afternoon stickiness event.
Remaining mid-afternoon ski down to headwall for the canyon bw MSHC and (Big) ZZ was soft and enjoyable (if sticky here and there). Lower down (below Headcliffs) in the canyon itself was filled w core shot inducing landmines, shark bites, etc so aborted that effort shortly after documenting the contrast bw natural and man-made headwall loose wet.
For the ski down Little Zigzag Canyon (after predictably triggering another small loose wet as price of gully entrance), i chose to stay high up the wall to lessen the sun angle at that time of day and minimize chance (albeit prob unlikely for now) of punching through into the waterway that was audible at times. Side benefit was the fall line snow was undoubtely obnoxiously sticky at that time of day. Side drawback was that I was constantly skiing over choppy cornice debris fall. Safe and fast? Yes. Smooth and enjoyable? Not so much.
At the PCT, I put skins back on. Given time of year hints, I opted to skin traverse 600’ back up to an area adjacent to the ski area versus try and more directly return via “meltout morass”. Final groomer descent was stable.