Yesterday, 1.17.16, my most trusted accountant — the Great Griswoldi — and I reset the skin track on Shadow Peak in GTNP. Avy danger was recorded as HIGH, but we know the mountain well and were ready to turn around at any time. Also, we kinda get a kick out of tempting fate from time to time.
With hopes that someone would serve as our guinea pig and set the skintrack up Shadow for us, we opted for an true Alpine Start: 11:15am. The parking lot at Taggart Lake was full, but no one had hit Shadow: our slog began at the bottom of the ridge. Shit.
It was overcast and snowing in the parking lot. Throughout the day the sun came out and temps got pretty warm down low: slight suncrusts on S facing slopes around 7000′ should be buried by now. Snow up to midmountain was wet enough to stick to our topsheets but not to our skins.
Down low the old skin track was easily located in most spots: 6-8″ of fresh. At mid-elevations we saw 10-12″ of fresh. At upper elevations it looked more like the 17″ JHMR reported, plus some serious new drifts.
At the first steep step we opted to take the sunnier Southern route in hopes of finding shallower snow: we did. We stomped around on the steeps a bit and it seemed to be bonding well on that aspect and elevation.
At the lower lookout point above those steeps we started feeling a little silly, and our “parking lot” party began as we stomped out our first of several spacious rest stops en route to the top.
The old skintrack was still easy to follow until we hit the second steep step where the drifts began to get deep. Grimaldi bit the bullet on that one, and it didn’t go off.
In the magical old growth forest above we opted to gradually work our way to skinners’ left in hopes of putting in another “parking lot” at the surreal viewpoint rewarding skiers who opt to hit the ridge at the earliest possible convenience.
There were four ravens playing in the wind, and we watched them for a while before stomping out our most scenic “parking lot”. Why not?
The view was so fabulous that we both admitted to having had a “moment” together. Awwww, shucks.
We tested a lot of cornices and drifts on the upper flat ridge. Cornices were not exceptionally pronounced and nothing was moving so we opted to attempt hugging the steeper ridge above to skirt the obvious slide path as best we could.
We hit the standard “skier’s” summit and got a few decent pics of the Sliver, and the Grand ominously looming in the clouds.
Up top it had stayed pretty cold. Winds were light at that time. It was getting a little too close to dark for comfort so we dropped in. The snow was surreal during our descent. Top to bottom bottomless with only a taste of old tracks visible for the bottom 1000′. The pillows are perfect. We didn’t hit any rocks by accident, but plenty on purpose. 🙂
Today I’m resting up and digging out the homestead in Alpine: we’ve gotten a healthy foot of thick, heavy snow in town over the last 48 hours. Tomorrow I’m gonna get a taste of the slackcountry with wicked awesome ski gawd Sean McCarthy.
The crud is a thing of the past: both in my lungs and on the slopes. Get some goods!