|12/24/2006 3:00:48 PM:
The day before christmas is always a great day to get out. Mark and I decided to try out the new AT back country ski gear and headed out for the back valley at Snoqualmie pass.
We started out around 7:00am, still dark. The track from the upper Aplental ski area runs along a river bed back through the forest going almost due north.
Mark and I made good time, for being so new to using skins on skis. We got to the back valley in about an hour. This ends up, square in the face of Chair peak. Making a mistake, Mark and I stayed in the valley to long, and ended up making more work for our selves. We then proceeded up the valleys to the West. This leads you directly onto a plateau that sits right in front of the Tooth. This plateau forms a nice bowl, that collects a lot of snow, and is very avalanche rich. There is a good shot of Mark just at the top of the ridge, with the tooth, and the ridge to the left of the tooth, our summit for the day.
The valley up into the bowl was steep, and took a good 1.5 hours. Once on top, Mark stopped to adjust his clothes and boots, while I kept on. I broke trail up to the steepest sections, setting a good pace. Once under the tooth, the going slowed down, and I continued to break until Mark caught up with me, just below the summit ridge, due south of the Tooth.
We finished the last 100 yards with me in the lead, and then dug out a small pit to avert the wind.
Temp readings all the way up were 24-27 degrees. At the summit ridge, the winds were pushing 25+, bringing the temp to about zero. Time was about 10:30am.
After a short rest, Mark and suited up, and started down. What a blast, the snow was knee deep power, with an ice crust. Only took about 20 minutes to get down. Mark had some issues with keep his ski's on, and his head up, but did a great job of getting down quickly.
Once off the plateu, we headed down through the steep valley that ends at the bottom of Chair peak. This was a bit tricky with deep snow, 3-4 inch ice layer and just overall objects to avoid. Great fun getting down, and hill we need to practice more. If I had to rate both parts, I'd put them at a double black diamond.
Back to the car for an ending time around 12:00 noon. Not bad for the first real run out.