Trip Report    

Backcountry Ski/Snowboard - Artist Point

A great learning trip with an enthusiastic crew!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

This was the second in our backcountry beginner trip series based out of Baker Lodge. We held our breath (and noses) as the North Cascades were pummeled by 8 inches of rain in the days leading up to our trip. Taa daa! We met in the morning under blazing blue skies, with a few inches of soggy wet snow on top of  a thin crust overlying a soaked slushie type snowpack. The avalanche danger was called considerable by NWAC due to more snow being deposited at higher elevations during the waning storm. 

We planned our route conservatively. We wanted to take the trade route up to Artist Point and maybe ski Guido's Glades (off the south side of Artist Point), hoping that the sun would have warmed the crust and made things more skiable. The reality was quite different: the crust gave way to powder at Austin Pass, and the powder stayed nice and skiable all day on the north facing aspects. The south facing slopes however were completely baked by the sun and turned into isothermal mush, helped along by their rain soaked state. We wisely decided not to add to the many wet loose slides that were already occurring off the south side of Table Mountain.  We made our way to Huntoon Point and skied in the northeast direction off the ridge into the basin below, but decided not to ski all the way down into Swift Creek as the rain crust was again becoming very noticealbe.

On our way up we took half an hour to dig some huge pits (New Year's  resolution: dig more pits!). Everyone appreciated getting up close and personal with the snowpack, and we felt much more informed in our decisionmaking going forward. We also practiced how to make a nice skin track, how to stay out of the sights of the kickturn police, and how to pose for photo opps with Mt Shuksan.