Sunday, April 17, 2011

Snow Course 4-16

This morning I woke up around 6:30 to a bit of dew on the inner wall of ny tent. Not a big deal, but I may want to try use the inner liner or the tent next time. It was 29 outside, which would've been done had I not left my boots outside to freeze... That was quite unpleasant and it took a good 30 minutes for them to finally warm up and get loose enough for a good good lacing. I was pretty slow getting glib, but as I was going to have to wait on everyone else I was in no rush. We didn't actually get moving until about 9:30 after breakfast so it was a real strange morning for me... We crossed the lake and started heading up the ridge, aiming for Haypress Meadow where we would hit the real PCT. Ned has quite an interesting take on winter navigation, which is the idea that you don't need to stay on the trail itself but rather you just have to get to the right landmarks. We did quite a few climbs and traverses, learning about the buries hazards you may face. I got really nice traction in my boots and I was quite satisfied with them for most of the day. We saw some really crazy stuff like a 12 foot deep windwell around a tree and a massive cornice off a ridge. From our final desinayion we were able to see Pyarmid Peak, Jack's Peak, Dick's Peak and Aloha Lake. Quite the sight. Starting on the way back a bit before 1 we started sinking in a bit more and then before you know it that had genes to postholing. I did that for awhile to see how it would be and I can see why it would be exhausting. For the unfamiliar, postholing is what happens as you walk on the sun-softenes snow and your step causes you to sink in to your knee or further. It can be especially painful when there is an icy crust or granite boulders below, but we were fortunate to experience neither. After descending about 300 feet via that method we all decided to try glissading, essentially sitting down and sliding down the slope using your feet as brakes. That was much faster, much less tiring, and frankly just a lot of fun. The big problem I faced was with all the postholing, my feet were constantly under the snow and my goretex boots started leaking. By the time we hit camp my feet were soaked and I was quite happy to change socks and air out my boots. We also took some time to learn about avalanche pits to assess the snow pack and also how to build a snow cave. With that we wrapped up the days training and retired for dinner and conversation. This is quite a fun group and I really do hope I get to see them all out on the trail this summer. I'm the last of this group to start so I should be passing most everyone at some point. Tomorrow is self arrest training and then the flight back home. This sure flew by and now it will be harder than ever to wait for ny start on re 18th, especially knowing that Don &  Sourdough will be there as of Tuesday!

PHOTO: Pyramid Peak

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