13 Photos - Mar 5, 2012
Photo: Friday I toured around to scout out possible routes for the weekend field sessions of our avalanche course:
The trip planning went something like this, in the form of dialogue between the driver & myself:
“Go straight here?”
“No, left . . . unless you want to drop me off at the Cog, then I’ll ski up and over the summit to Pinkham, hah!”
“Hey, would you be willing to do that?  Let me check the current summit weather conditions on my phone . . . ”
So, thanks again Ted for being willing to do that! Unfortunately the weekend weather conditions did not allow any of this terrain to be used for the course, yet the tour was still a nice example of how lots of fun safe skiing can be found in widespread Considerable avy conditions.
Detailed route description in the caption for the following picture . . .Photo: Route description:
-Up the Cog.
-Down NE Snowfield for some great snow w/ very little wind effect (tho' trying to stay in ctr to avoid slightly higher pitches on sides).
-Skin across Alpine Garden & Far NE Snowfield to rejoin Otto.
- Down into Chandler Ridge Snowfield for perfect deep powder (but once again avoiding the slightly steeper pitches in the drainage).
-Skin out at an angle to rejoin Otto at Winter Cutoff, which looked skiable but not all that great.
-Cut switchback by skiing a snowfield that while windslab was still good skiing, and steep enough to have fun but not steep enough to slide.
-Skin up Raymond Path > Harvard Cabin in hopes of making it up to HoJos and then the base of Tux to ski the Little Headwall...but alas after all the trail breaking on the drifts along the Cog, Alpine Garden, and Chandler Ridge Snowfield, the sustained trail breaking on Raymond's deep untouched powder put me too far behind schedule, although just the nice cut-up powder on Fire Road & Sherburne was good consolation.Photo: I can't even remember exactly where this was, but it provides some idea of the variable snow conditions and lighting conditions ... but near the Alpine Garden up a ways along the Far NE Snowfield?Photo: I'm pretty sure this was from along the Auto Road, with the sun trying to poke through.Photo: Sat for the course, a snow/no-snow line threatened to hover around treeline, w/ High avy danger everywhere. We skinned up Tux trail @7:30 but shifted over to Sherb to practice single travel (pretending pitch 10 degrees steeper).
In Huntington, Fan was at risk of naturals from filled-in gullies, but I found a small snowfield nr base of a nearly bare Damnation to dig a pit.
Back down Fire Rd & up to HoJos we described our very poor test results to snow ranger Jeff Lane - always nice to learn from snow rangers during avy course, but even better for students to provide info to them!
Next we skinned up to dig a pit off to the side in a very small snowfield amidst the massive boulder fields, w/ very poor test results again.  Continued skinning up to to ski Little Headwall, rated Moderate but pounded into submission by a 5-boarder simul ski then some sort of tromping-about climbing group.
Back at Pinkham we skied out on Old Jackson to practice rescuing two dummies (wetsuits stuffed full of snow) on a small hillside.Photo: Sun was Considerable almost everywhere. Skinned up GoS to base of #1/Main, then skied & skinned back over to HoJo's (via Graham). Finally up to Tux to dig a pit (variable results, but then again that's kind of what Considerable can be all about) at the top of a small snowfield in between the runouts of Lobster Claw and Triple Right Gully.Skied down Little Headwall & back to Pinkham for more rescue practice.  
To get everyone home at a reasonable hour, wrapped up at ~3:30, having met for breakfast at 6:30 (and started skinning at 7:45, w/ time in between to clear out our rooms).
The previous day we had met for breakfast at 6:30, started skinning at 7:30, finished up rescue practice at 5:30, met for dinner at 6:00, started up presentations at 6:30, and finished at 8:30.
Total instructional time for the wkend was 23 hrs minus some short breaks. Fall session was 10 hrs, so in excess of 30 in-person instructional hrs. Plus homework that probably adds up to more than that...Photo: Picture taken by me from the uphill side of GoS #3 looking across the 2008 runout zone.  Probably a 0% chance of #3 running that big Sunday, but to be extra safe -- as well as for educational purposes, you can see two students queued up waiting to cross one at a time.Photo: Looking up at the Fingers.Photo: This is to the looker's right of the Fingers.
Anyone have any beta on this surprisingly well-filled-in broad gully?  (And does it continue down into one of the drainages that cross the GoS trail?)Photo: Anyone remember which year #2 ran so big that it took out trees right up to the trail?Photo: I went up to the bottom of #1 to snap a quick picture and see if anyone had skinned out recently on the "use trail" to the Snowfields while everyone else stayed back at studied the evidence of recent slides up above.  (Unfortunately the lighting contrast was too poor to allow any of this to be seen in my cell phone pics.)Photo: View of the Snowfields and . . . what is that in the center of the picture?Photo: A bit hard to see in this picture, but showing ski tracks (not ours!) that went right up (over?) a collapsing hole on the approach to the Little Headwall.  (Note that prior ski tracks already sensibly led the way up on the bank to the skier's right to avoid all that.)