March 20, 2010

Arkose Aspects

Equinox skiing at Hatcher Pass vicinity offered shady powder, breakable sun crust, sugary granules, slush, and glop, plus everything in between. Arkose Ridge via a direct approach from Hatcher Pass Road has been a long time wish. Finally, I made it there. After studying the slope for a good while, I decided to go up.

The uptrack was difficult with bottomless granular sugary crystals. Boot packing was a welcome relief until encountering a few waste-high boulders that appeared, of course, to be shin-high until the snow bridge broke and revealed a waste-deep baseless, sugary wallow.

Concerned with stability and a cornice, I chose a not-north-enough line to start. A half inch of fresh covered a scritchy base that transitioned through breakable crust to powder as the line wrapped from southwest around to a northwest aspect.

Aspect is key this time of year. After so many springtime ski trips, I'm still amazed at the radical difference in the snow with a slightly different aspect. Seemingly minor differences in azimuth and incline can make the difference between smokey powder and breakable sun crust. The aspect game adds another dimension to powder seeking, ski the shadow and find the powder!

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