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Surprise Mountain (winter)

Jan 1, 2016. A great way to ring in the new year. We had a huge amount of snow fall in the previous two weeks, but little for the past three days. Left the trailhead at 8:20 am. Others had broken trail as far as Surprise Lake. At the crossing of the creek about a mile and a third from the trailhead, one member fell into the creek when the snow underfoot collapsed. He landed in knee-deep water but maintained his balance and scampered to the far shore and climbed up the bank. We took out our shovels and shoveled off the top two or three feet of snow from the log so that the rest of the party could get across safely. We wish we had shoveled off the snow earlier. Several team members produced extra socks from their packs and we were able to proceed. About halfway to Surprise Lake we donned snowshoes even though the trail was broken, due to postholing. We arrived at Surprise Lake at noon. From there, we broke trail to the basin below Surprise Gap, arriving at 2:00 pm. We could see numerous recent slab avalanches and a few slough avalanches above the basin and opted for caution, turning around at that point. Left the basin at 2:00 and arrived at the cars at 5:15, using headlamps for half an hour. Traffic down to Monroe was horrid!

 

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