Copyright Patrick Fink 2009. Skier: Ethan Linck
“Do you usually ski in the backcountry?”

“In-bounds, out-of-bounds, backcountry, we go wherever there’s untracked snow”.

Cheers to that. I made it out to the backcountry on Saturday morning with a good crew of guys to take advantage of the storm that came through Friday night. When we started up Peagravel ridge, there was lots of blowing snow, but thankfully our shots to climber’s right were sheltered by the ridge. We took two great runs through some tight trees with beautiful pillows before climbing up to tree line and discovering the real stash. Right at tree line are a series of open glades with pockets of trees, sitting at a perfect 28-25 degrees.

A quick snow profile showed a CT16 and “moderate” shovel shear, so we played the terrain cautiously in the slightly denser trees, minding some possible release points. One group that went farther up the ridge and into the steeper and more open terrain managed to trigger a small point release slide, which was both vindication of our decision to stay a bit more sheltered, and comforting, in that even the slide they triggered wasn’t too worrying.

The snow was deep, light, and fluffy. About as good as it can get in the Cascades. As I rode down it was flying up around my waist and shoulders, and hitting me with the occasional face shot. Whoo baby. I love backcountry skiing.

Naturally, because the snow was so good this past weekend, the freezing level has gone to 8k’, and it’s raining on the mountain. Such is the maritime climate I guess. I may still try to dawn patrol it on Wednesday morning before I have to hop a plane to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Getting up onto the north side for some exercise and a look at the Eliot glacier wouldn’t be too bad. Even though school is gettin’ serious now towards the end of the semester, somehow the good life still lurks around every corner.

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