May 5, 2013

Month of May, Live to Ski Another Day

Kruser and yours truly planned to ski the north side of Microdot, the little peak that rises above the Hatcher Pass Lodge that we hoped had preserved the powder on its shady slopes.  It was a beautiful day with partly sunny skies over the fresh foot of snow from yesterday's storm.
Kruser in Line of Sight with The Pinnacle - Microdot to Looker's Right
We surveyed the panorama from the Microdot saddle above Goldcord Lake and discovered a natural avalanche parallel to our planned line.  It likely initiated as a point release and ran about 300 vertical feet to a convex rollover where it triggered a slab hundreds of feet wide.  From a distance, I estimated the crown at ~2 feet deep.  The slab ran another 500 feet vertical to the lake where the debris fanned out in a 1000 ft-wide pile of dense death cookies.  The snowfall the day before was wet; DP called it whale snot, an apt description. The weight of the avalanche debris impacted the lake and created a schrund-like half moon crack in the snow part way around the lake.
We re-evaluated our plan considering the recent heavy snow, natural avalanche, and two substantial whoomphing settlements we felt on the ridge.  We skied down our uptrack.  As I started skiing down, I wondered if our original plan could have been pulled off without incident.  That is until I heard the slab avalanche I remotely triggered, and peaked at it over my shoulder as it ran beyond a convexity on the ridge, I was very happy to go down the safe way.  
Kruser Ascending Microdot
The remotely triggered slab ran down the righthand slope, behind where Kruser is ascending in the photo above.  Relative to the same photo, I was skiing more toward the lefthand slope in the foreground.  Live to ski another day.


JP-7 said...

Smart decision--glad you're safe. We skied the NW face of Gordon Lyon the same day. What a perfect day it was! No wind, sunny, and 4-5 inches of fresh snow. There were multiple point releases (no slabs) on some terrain features and a little sluff management was required on the upper third. After that it was fantastic. I enjoy the blog--keep it up!

Alvin said...

This is cool!