Trip Report    

Backcountry Ski/Snowboard - Skyline Lake and Tye peak

Decent early season ski tour and beacon search practice

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Trip was originally planned for Crystal -- However I later found out that Crystal was going to be celebrating the 60th year with $60 lift tickets -- So I was concerned about an overflowing parking lot and redirected to the Stevens Pass area. 

    The snowpack was pretty decent for December 8th -- nice fluffy snow -- small trees still sticking up though. 

    The NWAC forecast for the day:  https://nwac.us/avalanche-forecast/#/forecast/2/114277 
    Was: Moderate above timberline and low  at and below

    "You may be able to trigger slab avalanches in wind-exposed terrain above treeline on Thursday. If you see blowing snow or wind-textured surfaces, consider avoiding steep slopes or sticking to wind-sheltered slopes. Southerly winds may form new slabs on the highest slopes and will be strongest in the morning."

    This was consistent with our field experience.     We did observe signs of instability on the slopes we skied.        From the ridge above Skyline lake we we able to observe  wind sculpted snow on the open slopes of Tye Peak across the valley.

    We performed a beacon search practice along the shores of Skyline Lake -- 3 of 4 participants were able to locate the buried beacon efficiently.    One person struggled significantly with the coarse search.  Their fine search needs more practice as well.   

    When we started descending the backside of  Skyline we encountered boot top depth soft snow that skied well.    Unfortunately one member of the party  had misrepresented their skiing ability  and was repeatedly falling.    This slowed the group greatly.    I cut short the tour after decending  maybe halfway down the Skyline backside.     Skiing back down the frontside the one member was struggling even down the logging road without falling so I relieved them of their pack to reduce the number of falls going forward and reduce the chances of them getting hurt.   I followed them down the logging road to be ready to assist when they fell.    Other members of the group  took shortcuts of the road zigzags to enjoy some turns.    The snow quality was good until about halfway down where it degraded to OK do to the presence of slight crust.

    We all did return to the parking area without injury.     On the