Well the plan this week was to go for Mt Helen’s South Face, then it changed to Crystal’s east slopes and then both my partners backed out the morning of due to various ailments so there you have it. What’s quick and easy with little avy hazard. Quandary’s East slopes. I skied Quandary’s North Gully back in 1993 but only have 1 picture that survived. So this will serve as my Quandary trip report for now. Eventually I will put together a better index page but this will work for the time being.
While I was driving up I couldn’t help but notice how windy it was. National Weather service said it was only supposed to be in the teens as far as wind went. It was higher for sure. Graceful snow plumes could be seen streaming of the top of Peak One on the drive out of Frisco. The rest of the numbered peaks were in the “clouds”. I went to check out the Pennsylvania Creek trailhead to see how far up the road you could get and decide what I wanted to do. I drove over to Blue lakes road and parked. Snow devils were dancing about on the east ridge. Tractor bowl was in and out as far as visibility went, but down low the temps were pretty nice. I figured what the hell. I need some exercise. If it get’s too bad I’ll just turn around. It was great. At treeline the balaclava and goggles went on and I just put my head down into the 20-30 mph headwind. I made pretty good time of almost 2:50 to the summit. At the summit ridge The winds kicked up to about 80+ mph. It was strong enough to push me to the ground a few times and it lifted my ski off the ground and sent it towards the south face. I made a diving save and got the hell out of there.
Winterlike conditions were the experience of the day. Our snowpack needs some serious sun before spring conditions will return. There’s a nice soft slab on top of 6-10 inches. I wouldn’t be surprised if a route like the Cristo Couloir had a soft slab on top of 12-20 of unconsolidated. It was loading something fierce up there. I skied back down the ridge and toyed with the edge of the loading so I wouldn’t loosen my fillings. Some good cream cheese like turns were had. After the flats it got really good then it was awesome in the upper trees. It was a fun day for sure.