Words By: Simon Coward
With a widespread facet wallowing advisory in affect for the Rockies right now (unofficial Splitboard HQ report!) we decided to head back up on the hard-earned skin track we set last Monday into the Massive Range in the Redearth Creek area. Having had very little new snow in the past week we figured that (at least until treeline) we would be able to re use our track from last week and make some good time up to higher elevations.
PHOTO: Crusing into the alpine after re-using the skin track. Legs feeling much less gassed than the week before
Our decision paid off… not only was our skin track to treeline intact, it was fully visible all the way into the alpine to our high point from last week. So, what was a 5 – 6 hour slog a week ago, turned into a veritable skin track super highway, which saw us get to the alpine about 2 hours quicker than last week.
This gave us a bunch of time to explore, stand on a summit, cut some cornices to test stability of our potential riding lines, ride said line and then climb back up for an amazing pow on facets run in a big open alpine bowl feature.
PHOTO: Brandon heading towards the summit with Mt Brett in the Background
PHOTO: Brandon and Ali scouting lines and cutting cornices
PHOTO: Tom downclimbing to his descent line of choice
PHOTO: Simon dropping out of the steeper coulior feature of the summit
It was an incredibly memorable day with a summit, easy travel, great views, some steeper gnarlier terrain, pillows, tree skiing and big, wide open alpine pow turns. Kind of checked all the boxes for a rally enjoyable day in the hills.
Some basic observations we made (in the 2200m to 2500m elevation range) were this:
- Steep south facing terrain was starting to form a suncrust
- From last week, the upper 30cm of light pow was starting to settle and form a soft slab on north and east facing aspects. At treeline, there were 20cm + settlement cones around trees which weren’t there last week.
- Leeward slopes at treeline and alpine had seen a bunch of wind and slabs were starting to get pretty stiff.
- We observed 2 or 3 settlements in low angle, ridgetop terrain with cracks propagating 20 – 30 metres.
- Snowpack was still highly faceted and trail breaking was very challenging (the little we had to do) on all aspects and elevations.
- We cut a medium size cornice (3m across, 50 cm deep) and dropped it onto a steep SE slope. This triggered a deep (though very narrow) sluff that ran to ground for about 1000ft. The sluff was approx. 40cm deep and less than a meter wide where it started and by the time it stopped (near valley bottom) it was probably a good sz 1.5.
PHOTO: Having fun, riding wide open pow. A fantastic finish to the day
We were so stoked to re use last weeks effort to really explore this zone. One of the things I enjoy most about splitboarding is getting out and exploring new/less traveled zones.
I hope you are all finding respite from the facets in old skin tracks, and finding some fun turns. Looks like things are changing from a hazard standpoint, so make sure to keep an eye on the avy conditions and weather forecast
Safe Travels and Happy Pow Hunting
The Splitboard HQ Team