You don’t know until you go has been a mantra for me this spring. With rain up into some of the abnormally high elevations, it has been hard to expect a good freeze below 12,000 feet on some mornings and some of you usual red flag decision makers are a little different than normal. We left the trailhead walking in shoes and a little before Crater lake we transitioned to an on and off again skin towards the upper rock glacier. The snow below treeline was uninspiring to say the least, but we kept telling ourselves that we would pass the 12,000 foot mark before making a decision to continue up or not. Passing the 12,000 to 12,500 ft mark there was a noticeable change in the snowpack from a saturated mess to a more consolidated wintery snowpack.
Joe King managed to put a skin track in to just below the Miners Ski jump and we made our way just past it and transitioned to crampons. With every step the booting was getting deeper and in the end we wound up chest deep swimming up our couloir to the top.
We finally made the ridge line and the trail breaking got easier, but the climbing as expected was more technical.
To this point we knew that the face was going to be sloughy for sure, but had no idea just how slabbed up it might be. I took the first few turns off of the summit and while snow was moving, there were no slabs and the snow snow was deep! We managed to ski through the punk rock band and then it was game on for blower turns all the way to the basin below.
That was easily one of the best descents I’ve ever been a part of and a nice lesson in decision making in our odd spring snowpack this year.