(Last Updated On: November 5, 2013)
Alex shredding it up in fresh powder.
After four days of snowstorms and finding a mixed bag of conditions and snow layers in the backcountry the previous weekend, I was suspicious about the snowpack. I didn’t know how much new snow had fallen, or how it was bonding to old layers. But, I did know that it had been windy, which also made me a bit leery of the behavior of the freshly fallen snow. Frank had other commitments, so I rallied my friends Alex, Mike and Scott. We headed for the Owen area where I knew the snow had been generally protected from the wind, and also stable and deep, causing less facets and mixed layers.
It looked mighty winter-like up there 🙂
We opted to skin up the south side to gain the ridge. What had been rock last weekend was now covered in a 1 to 1.5 feet of new snow.
We were at the top of the ridge when it happened – the slide. We were standing there, not even moving, talking about the windloaded slope that laid in front of us. I mentioned something about being suspicious about the windloading on skiers left, with the windslab that I knew was underneath, and moments later that whole slope slid. Clearly, it was remotely triggered by us somehow. The start zone:
Looking at the runout:
The slide started on a very slight NE aspect. Mainly it was the new snow which had stiffened from the wind that loaded a pre-existing wind slab. The slide was about 30 feet wide in the start zone, gaining up to 100+ feet in width lower down. The crown was about 1 to 1.5 feet deep.
It was an easy decision from there to continue up the ridge to one of the various north-facing chutes which would be more protected from the wind and therefore safer. But, we had much wind to brave along the way.
But, it was still a beautiful skin.
We split up and hit two different chutes which paralleled one another. Alex exiting Jenga.
And we found lots of creamy powder in the apron. Scott.
A look back at our lines.
The snow was stellar, so we went back for more.
The wind continued to howl off the ridge line, but we were protected from the wind in the basin.
Lines on Owen are shaping up.
The chute I have skied most this year 🙂 Alex:
But, the best snow was still in the apron. Scott.
A look at the slide from below. Note that it failed on a layer within the snowpack, not on the ground as one might often expect at this time of year.
It was another great day of skiing, although conditions reminded us to choose our ski lines wisely. A parting shot of the area I love so much.