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Trip Report    

Backcountry Ski/Snowboard - Crystal Mountain Backcountry

Successful tour, decent snow conditions -- cold.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Snow totals have risen significantly in the last week and made for good touring and skiing conditions.    Coverage in the forest above QuickSilver is now sufficient and creeks are frozen over and covered -- unlike last week when there was still open water in places.

    We did two snow studies  on the lower slopes of Threeway Basin -- with similar, but not identical results -- the study area that was more exposed to cross loading winds showed some minor failure at 10 cm depth with the 3rd "elbow" tap in a compression test.   The snow above the failure was not cohesive and didn't show slab properties.  So our assement was that sluffs could occur, but not propagation to a larger slide.    The less wind exposed site showed no failures.  

With the large group and three trip leaders we split into two groups -- one group of three lead by Mike pursued some steeper terrain and found good skiing, with snow somewhat wind affected.    The other two groups toured together up to a bench at treeline -- we discussed options from there of climbing a bit higher to ski a "black" run in some treeless terrain.   Descending along the skin track for an "easy blue" descent and skiing in some light trees and an "easy black" -- both groups opted for the last option -- so we all skiied together.   The snow in the light trees was relatively unaffected by wind and was pleasant skiing.    Only one person fell during their descent. 

All three groups collected in the "Meadow" area and elected to repeat the "light trees" run.    as we started up, unfortunately my right skin suffered a complete glue failure and I could not climb higher.    However with the other two co-leaders the rest of the group proceeded upward with a turn around time of 2:30.  One of the folks got partway up and decided they didn't have more "up" in their tank for the day and decided to transition while still on low angle terrain visible to me waiting below.   The rest of the group continued higher  -- they didn't quite get to the prior high point -- but still had an enjoyable run back to the meadow area.   We then all skied out to the base area as a group without incident.