Today Modena, Dani, Maestra, and I went exploring up Indian Creek. Armed with the images I took yesterday from the Middle Indian we were hoping to find perfect corn (or at least consistent unbreakable conditions) skiing one of those triplet SSE ridges off the summit of Blowout Mountain. Unfortunately the sun was in and out of thick clouds and things never really softened up.
This is a classic caveat lector sort of trip report. I don’t really know what’s skiing good and what slopes are best avoided for safety reasons because I haven’t been getting out enough to know. I write these trip reports for my own sake as much as anyone else’s, so caveat lector: let the reader beware.
Every time I check out a new-to-me peak in the area I’m surprised how much bigger and steeper they look relative to the images in Tom Turiano’s new guidebook. Blowout Mountain did not disappoint either: it’s gnarly! 3300 feet of steep skiing with interspersed cliffs is what we encountered today. The skin in was nice, but the return down N fork of Indian Creek was sloggy.
We left the winter trailhead and headed up Spring Run to the W Face of Blowout. The snow was surprisingly good — sugar atop unbreakable crust — on most aspects of the W Face and the terrain looked tantalizing, but we opted to hit the ridge crest and tried our luck on ESE aspects where less ideal snow awaited.
We hoped to summit ended up skiing variable ESE facing ridges from further down the summit ridge which spit us out in the W fork of the big converging drainages visible in the images above this paragraph. We hit the drainage bottom just above the convergence point and were stoked to find that the choke went without any trouble aside from very variable snow. Coverage was good top to bottom: thin but firm down low.
Cliffbands atop the ESE faces/ridges had dropped their loads during the recent warm temp events resulting in refrozen pinwheels and wet slide debris. At about mid-mountain we encountered a few 1-2′ avalanche crowns that had been snowed on since releasing. We didn’t see any signs of recent slide activity, but conditions were so variable that I didn’t really feel confident about slope stability.
Generally speaking, conditions were firm on smooth S faces, breakable zipper crust on straight E faces, and sugary pow with occasional crusts on shaded NE aspects we encountered. WNW aspects seemed like the best snow from a *quality* (not avalanche safety) perspective at mid to upper elevations. At lower elevations, wide open SSW aspects held the most manageable, unbreakable crusts.
Once again, the thrill of exploration with two great friends was the highlight of the day as we checked out the N aspects of Middle Indian during our ascent and picked our way down the ESE aspects of Blowout.
Unfortunately the clouds had already moved in so my pictures of the Middle Indian N aspects didn’t come out very good. I’m putting them up anyway because the N side of Middle Indian sports some incredible terrain.
Slogging out the N fork of Indian Creek was brutal. A few talented snowmobilers had been up there, but it was still a good hour of sidehilling and slogging from the base of Blowout’s SSE drainage to the fork of Indian Creek.
It’s snowing in Alpine now and the forecast looks pretty good for the next few days. I noticed a lot of surface hoar and sugary, unconsolidated snow at higher elevations in addition to popping off two small whoomphfs today (on a mellow W aspect at ~8000′) and on a flat, shady aspect at ~7000′).
If we do get significant snowfall I’ll be keeping an eye on what slides in the region while sticking to relatively safe slopes. Ohhh wait, I’ll *probably* be working the next five days unless this wintry weather makes me sick again. 🙂
Have fun out there.