We attained most of our goal this weekend which is a first since our Mazama trip back in early January. There was a great forecast for Saturday. Periods of snow and clouds with sunshine. Moderate avy danger. Sunday was less delightful with high wind and heavy snowfall. Avy danger would increase to considerable. However, most of the new snow would arrive in the afternoon (the considerable avy danger would hold off until then as well) so we decided that we needed to do a trip that would get us out of the danger zone by late morning and opted to once again try for Park Butte hoping that this time all of our ski bindings would stay intact.

We were able to drive all the way to the “no wheeled vehicles beyond this point” sign at about 2700 ft, 3 miles from the trailhead. However, snow was sparse and we had to boot-pack our skis for about 1/3 mile before hitting more consistent coverage. Even then  the snow vanished in areas and we had to carry our skis to the next patch. Most of the time there was a thin snow finger we could cross on. It was cloudy with a few spits of light rain that never lasted more than 3 minutes.

We made good time to Schreibers Meadows where the snow cover was uninterrupted, but probably a foot had melted since the previous week. There were very few snowmobilers on this route as well this time around. We followed the track to the edge of the meadow where the moraine began to rise up on our left. Our track from last weekend’s attempt to cross over the top of the moraine where the binding broke was still there. This time we did not try to take the shortcut. Instead we followed the track about another 1/2 mile up to where the moraine slope mellowed a bit (and then turned back to steep). We decided this was the best place to ascend. There were some cliffs above, but they were easy to get around. Everything on the slope was extremely stable and snowmobile tracks criss-crossed over the slope carving a variety of trails for us to ascend.

On top of the moraine we were greeted by some amazing views. The clouds were rising creating some glorious formations and Mt Baker was finally visible. We could also see Park Butte Lookout far, far off in the distance. Damien and I would have to descend fromthe crest of the moraine about 600ft into a basin, then cross it to begin climbing the butte. I fell once in a very awkward position nearly reaping my knee on the way down… I couldn’t undo my binding to get free but Damien came to my rescue… and also found my snow basket which began detached from my whippet.

We continued on as suddenly clouds rolled back in and the sky grew pure white. It all happened within about 20 seconds as it often does near a volcano. We started up the slopes of Park Butte. They were mostly very steep, but there were enough weaknesses to switchback our way up. Snow began to fall lightly and mist blew in as we reached the ridge saddle. From there we followed it easily to the Lookout.

We were the only ones when we reached the lookout at 3:15pm. We had left extra early that morning to make sure we got there first and our efforts were rewarded. Damien really wanted to stay in the shelter since he’d never sent the night in a fire lookout. We still had a tent though as the area is known to be crowded and it is highly recommended that a good backup shelter be carried. Damien and I both agreed that if someone was already there we would stay in the tent. The point of wilderness is solitude. To be honest I wasn’t crazy about staying in the lookout to begin with as it wasn’t roughing it. There was a bed frame with foam, counters, a large tabletop canister fuel stove and telescope. Too many things from society.

We were a bit perplexed as to what to do next. We had so much time on our hands since we didn’t need to set up the tent. After boiling water and setting up our sleeping bag we sat on the deck. The snow had stopped and the clouds were beginning to lift. We hoped Mt Baker would come out. As we waited three snowmobilers drove up to the lookout. They told us about another sledder that had drove his snowmobile into a crevasse earlier that day. We looked at the mountain which was almost clear and sure enough, high on the glacier there was a snowmobile track that disappeared into a hole. Yikes! The sledder survived with a broken arm.

The mountain finally fully cleared affording us some magnificent views. Probably the most scenic camp we’ve had since November. The snowmobliers headed back down and we stayed outside to watch the sunset hoping that no one else would show up. Besides, there was barely any room for anyone else in there with all our gear and it was first come first served anyway as it was. No one came though and when darkness fell we turned in for the night.

Damien got up to take one final leak at about 7:30pm and saw 4 headlights coming out way. Ugh, who shows up to the fire lookout known to be popular and usually occupied in the dark?!. We figured they had a backup tent just as we did, so we got up so we could point them in the direction of a flat spot further down from the shelter we saw when it was still light out. It’s rude to show up after dark and wake up anyone using in the shelter even if there was a ton of space in there. That’s why we made such an effort to arrive early. we figured they’d be respectful and have backcountry ethics.

However, they told us they only had bivys and wet sleeping bags. And after they banged on the door we let them in since they swore up and down they were going to no disturb us and go to bed immediately. Damien felt kind of sorry for them. As soon as the 3 snowshoes and 1 skier came in the whole lookout filled with the stench of cigarette smoke. We moved our stuff as best we could hoping nothing woudl get lost in the rubble. We found out as they set up that they had camped the night before at the hot springs without a proper tent and thus all their sleeping bags got soaked. But they still thought it was a good idea to drive to another trail and go out again with drenched gear that would not keep them warm. They had come up the summer route, but could not go down due to the steepness. It was amazing they made it up with their low quality snowshoes I observed. They did not know how to get down at all. They did not know the forecast for the next day or the avalanche predictions. Oh, and they had only two beacons which was ok because the other two folks had radios. Apparently when you’re buried under an avalanche you can call in on your radio for help. I couldn’t believe my ears! They were loud and obnoxious and the whole ordeal got too much for me after about ten minutes. I wanted to put up the tent even in the heavy wind and snow that had picked up, but Damien said they would go to bed quick. I just couldn’t be in there with the noise as they set up. It wasn’t the wilderness anymore and the cigarette smell was choking me. I sat outside feeling miserable about the situation, but happy to be able to breathe in the fresh snowy air for about twenty minutes. I thought they’d be in bed by then, but when I came back they were cooking dinner… and Damien was helping them boil water and pouring it into their mountain houses.. and retrieving snow for them to boil. I found out later that Damien was hoping to speed up the process of them getting to bed. But they didn’t go to bed! The whole situation made me sick to my stomach. Not only were these unprepared, rude folks intruding on our wilderness experience, but now they had Damien doing their camp chores. I went back outside and every time I came back to check on things they were all still up.

One and a half hours later the racket was still going on and I was pretty set on just spending the night sitting outside in my big puffys since I wasn’t going to get any sleep inside anyway. At least outside I could cling to some wilderness and be in the elements where I feel free. Damien came outside and after a discussion we decided to try to put up the tent. This ended poorly as the best nearby place that would not involve us putting out skis back on and  descending significantly in the dark was near the edge of a cliff. Exhausted we gave up on the endeavor. Back inside the others were still buzzing about. It was well after 9pm. I went back outside, though Damien eventually coaxed me indoors… to a chorus of snoring!

I cannot relate how defeated, frustrated, angry, enraged, upset and despondent I felt at this point. The wilderness is my freedom. My break for all the crap I have to deal with during the week. Some folks unwind by using the TV, talking with friends… various methods. My method is going to the mountains to find peace. To suffer in the mountains and be rewarded by the beauty it bestows. In the mountains things have a way of somehow being right. And  if the mountain decides I cannot reach my goal that day I am frustrated, but certainly not angry or forlorn. I know the mountains have their own agenda and I respect the decisions the mountain makes so to speak. I can live with the decisions of nature and accept my own personal limits of fitness and head-space. What I have zero tolerance for is society (ie: people, institutions, w/e) inserting themselves into the wilderness and taking away from its remoteness… taking away the freedom that I need after being trapped all week in society. Especially when said society acts obnoxious and is ill-prepared for the mountains.

I did somehow manage to eventually fall asleep after what felt like forever. I was just drained and exhausted at an amazing level. We woke up early as planned and began the process of packing up. We made no effort to be quiet. They others woke up when their alarm went off and chit chatted with Damien. He tried to explain the route out to them. At first light we left the Lookout still feeling bitter about the night events. Luckily the winds were high and snow swirled around us in the gusts as we began to descend. The snow was mostly old stuff getting picked up off the ground and visibility was descent in the distance.  But the flat light still made it feel like we were skiing in a ping-pong ball. I was forced to focus on the mountains… this, for me, is always lucky.

We made it safely back into the basin where the winds calmed and traversed along the left side back to the moraine. Snow began to fall thickly in big, chunky flakes around us. We knew we had arrived just in time to make the crossing back to the other side before avy danger got worst.  A cornice had developed in the wind at the top of the moraine, but the more gentle part we needed to cross was cornice-free. We switch-backed up. Snow engulfed us at the top where high winds blasted the flakes against our faces causing our skin to sting. This is where I find happiness… true alpine conditions!

We traversed a bit along the knife-edge top of the moraine looking for the place we came up. We found the area where it looked less steep… but still steep nonetheless. With the flat light and no depth perception we decided to boot-pack down to the flat area halfway down the moraine. Damien went first, but after several yards he decided he was going to try and ski it as the snow was too deep. I opted to continue the boot-packing though and made my way gradually down traversing the slope toward the trees on the right. I didn’t find the snow too deep. However, Damien is bigger than me and his skis are very heavy to boot… I’m sure he sank much more than me.

In the flat area I put my skis back on (skins now removed) and we skied the rest of the way back down to the main track. The flat light gave us a few unanticipated jolts as we skied over a few dips and rolls in the land making things more interesting on the easy terrain.

The wind let up as we skiied through the meadow, but still thick snow fell around us. As we lost elevation the snow turned to rain as to be expected. The little snow bridges we had used on the road to cross from snow patch to snow patch were gone now, so we did a fair amount of getting in and out of our skis. The road block to wheeled vehicles was moved up higher; maybe 2950 ft. Spring is on the way.

 

Once again, our original plan was foiled, but this time due to a move novel occurrence. We planned to AT ski to Park Butte,  a fire lookout overlooking Mt. Baker. The trail to Park Butte cannot be accessed in the winter due to snow and where the wheeled vehicle access on the five mile long FS 13 ends and the snowmobile track begins changes every year. As it turned out we only drove one mile up FS 13 that morning and parked on the side of the road before reaching the snowmobile track. It was snowing hard with about 4 inches of new snow already on the road. We wanted to make sure we would be able to drive back out the next day.  As luck would have it though, after about 3/4 mile or perhaps less of boot packing the road, the snow was thick enough to ski.

The official snowmobile track  begin at about mile 2 on FS 13. Quite a few sleds whizzed passed us as we skinned up the gradually ascending road. It didn’t bother us much though as all were courteous. The snow continued to come come down in thick flakes. Every now and then it would stop for about ten minutes and a sliver of sunshine would break the clouds, but then the flakes would fall again. It was actually rather beautiful.

After three miles there is a junction in the road. Here we turn left onto the well parked orange snow mobile track into Schriebers Meadows. Around the time we reached the meadows blue skies began to appear as well as some epic looking cloud formations over the distance mountains. It was turning into a bluebird day! The last weekend bluebird day had occurred almost two months ago so I was very excited. The snow was very stable too. Another plus!

The snowmobile track crosses a creek (there is a bridge) and ascends sometimes steeply in a small valley between two moraines ridges. Park Butte was just on the other side of the ridge. It looked as though the snow mobile track headed up toward the Easton Glacier of Mt Baker where the moraines were less steep. From there we could go around it and double back on the other side to get to Park Butte. For some reason or another we thought we saw an easier line on the steep moraine and decided to take a shortcut. Never take shortcuts.

Off the snowmobile track breaking trail was thigh deep… with the exception of when Damien fell into a hole what was very nearly up to his chest. His skis were trapped under the weight of the heavy powder. He released his feet and moved out of the way so I could get in the hole and dig the skis out. It was a small person’s job.

With the skis out we continued up the slope which was much steeper than we thought. The snow was also thigh deep still even with flotation. About halfway up I switched from following to breaking. I wasn’t all that crazy about going up the slope. The closer I got to the top of the ridge the  steeper it got. I wanted to bail, but I didn’t think I could ski down the slope safety. I’d have to remove my skis which was impossible from where I was. So I settled for making more and more switchbacks. When I popped up on the ridge I had to follow it away to get to a safe flatter spot in the trees. Damien began to follow. It didn’t look like we would be able to get down the other side to Park Butte. Too many trees, drifts and possible cliffs. However, we could still go down and camp near Easton Glacier or go around to Park Butte. Either way we’d have great views of the volcano.  I was even  afforded an excellent view of Mt Baker from the top of the ridge as it was… Meanwhile Damien had begun skiing along the ridge toward me… and this SNAP!

A chunk of snow had gotten lodged under his binding and we his heel stepped down the binding plastic snapped in half. Six miles from the trailhead we examined out options. Going to Park Butte was out of the question. It appeared as though Damien could lock down the binding in ski mode though it wasn’t very secure. There was no way to do a true repair so that the heel could raise. Frustrated the only option seemed to be to boot pack in down the slope. From the bottom Damien could try to secure the binding in ski mode and ski out one heel locked or he would have to walk on the snowmobile track which was hopefully packed down enough.

Going down the slope with the skis on our back was horrible. I was battled my way down snow that was chest or shoulder deep. It made me feel almost claustrophobic and the frustration was getting overwhelming for me. Finally a nice, clear day with lower avy risk and we once again end up not being able to follow through on our plan. Plus, once again we are relatively close to the car.

Once at the bottom of the slope and back on the track it was 3:15pm. We decided to make camp and deal with getting out in the morning. After setting up camp in the valley Damien worked on his binding. He was able to tie to together with a guideline from the tent. he put some medical tape around the ski too and a ski strap as well. It still wasn’t very tight though. Better than nothing.

The temperature dropped as the blue ski dimmed and a nearly full moon rose over the horizon. I went in and out of loving the evening and being so sad that I was in the valley so far from Baker. I kept thinking about how much more beautiful this all would have been from the fire tower or up near Easton Glacier. I had a hard time putting things into perspective. Damien is much better at that than me.

The night was rather astoundingly bright. So bright that the snow filled valley not not cloaked by darkness in the least bit. Every detail of the landscape was 100% clear. It looked like a black and white movie in the moonlight. I haven’t seen a night like that in a long time.

Morning dawned clear and blue. Damien had come up with the idea of twisting a pen into the guideline to tighten the binding together. It worked (the medical tape did not)! We boot packed down the steepest park of the track as not to end up in the creek, before putting our skis on. Mt Baker was visible from the meadows as we descended down the snowmobile track. Damien was able to successfully ski all the way back to the car without any further binding issues. Of course the guideline was a temporary fix. The skis are now having new binding mounted.

 

We really should just start planning our trips the morning we leave for our weekend adventures. Weather seems to have a knack of changing last minute this winter. Plan A was to attempt to climb Helena Peak and Bald Mountain on the Mountain Loop Hwy. It was supposed to rain, but the avalanche danger was predicted to stay moderate. Alas, when we woke up Saturday morning the forecast was updated to High for Sunday at and above treeline. With that new information we changed directions and headed to Leavenworth through heavy rain. We figured maybe we could recreate our rainy first date to Snow Lakes almost a year ago.

We were greeted by blue skies, but with grey clouds lurking down the canyon as we pulled into the Trailhead lot. There was snow on the ground so we put our out snowshoes and started out. A beautiful mist had settled into the canyon floor and as we ascended the first switchbacks views of Mt Cashmere opened before us. We crossed a large section of avalanche debris about .75 miles up the trail. It seemed pretty old though and the terrain trap had already been triggered leaving no further danger so we pressed on. The distant grey clouds concealed the blue sky and a very light rain fell as we finished the final switchback and we began the traverse beside Snow Creek. It was here that we began to notice more avalanche debris and the slides on the trail increased the further we walked. About 1.75 miles from the trailhead we stopped again to evaluate the situation. I wasn’t concerned to much because it seemed almost every possible terrain trap had already  avalanche. However, Damien pointed out that some areas had not been triggered yet and with heavy rain predicted the following the day the rocks under the snow would be lubricated and could create hazardous conditions. We backed off and headed back down to the parking lot.

It was late in the day, about 12:45pm, we were began walking up Eightmile Rd, which was our safest, albeit least backcountry, option in the area. The Rd was full of snowshoers and several skiers, many with their dogs. This lack ofd solitude drove me kind of crazy. Luckily the crowds thinned out after about 2 miles. There were two section of avanche debris on the road. But we didn’t see potential for more slides. We noted that there was some ice on the Millennium Wall, but it did seem to be more like narrow pillar than large flows. Hubba Hubba seemed to be in, but appeared very white. Too much sun?

We received a mix of snow and overcast skies for the first while, but at 3:00pm the clouds began to shower us with snow. First tiny, wet flakes and then big fluffy ones. It transformed the slushy landscape into beauty and provided a more backcountry feel even though we were eon a road. We were delighted it wasn’t rain too!

At the end the road we began walking on the Stuart Lake Trail. We thought maybe we could get at least to the junction, but hopefully Stuart Meadows to camp. The trail was well broken, but the going slowed down significantly as we scuttled around trees and moved up and down snowbanks. Progress being so slow, we ended up at the large creek crossing bridge at about 5pm. There is a large open area there offering protection from tree bombs and a supply of clean snow. We decided to set up camp there… and I forgot to take a picture!

Instead of the freezing level dropping as the sun went down it rose. The heavy snow turned to rain as we cooked of Mountain House dinners. I tried Damien’s favorite: Chili Mac, to see what all the hype was about. Not to shabby.

We got a late start in the morning. Heavy rain made us hesitate to head back, but we managed to pack up during a period of lighter precip. The sun peaked one once or twice on the descent but mostly it rained and felt much more like April then Feb. Still, there is no place else I’d rather be a Valentine’s Day: in the mountains.

The past weekend was not our usual due to the Superbowl on Sunday. We ended up compromising as I naturally wanted to spend both days in the backcountry and Damien wanted to watch the game. Thus I spent Sunday at MT Baker Ski area while on Saturday we went out together on the Nason Ridge XC Loop.I’ve did this 15 mile XC ski trail two years ago and it was very much not groomed. This time the groomers had gone just an hour before we arrived so everything was fresh.

We started off at probably around 7:30am from the Kahler Glenn Sno-Park (Special groomed sticker required). The trail can be accessed by crossing the street and skiing along the track in the Kahler Glenn Golf Course. There are a few blue signs that direct the skier toward Nason Ridge, but the general idea is to keep going in the direct of the giant ridge in the back of the course. The track crosses a few streets. Just before the actual Nason Ridge Trail Begins there is a sign that indicates that there is a huge hill ahead which is hard to climb in skis. There is a little make that shows a recommended route to take along the plowed road to access the trail instead. We walked along the road as recommended to reach the Nason Ridge Trail.

The Lower Nason Ridge Trail gradually climbs along the lower side of the ridge with little elevation gain. In fact it is mostly flat. Conditions were very icy though since it was intermittently raining. Thus whenever there was an uphill section we tended to slide back a bit. Still the clouds were high so we were afforded views of the surrounding mountains. After about 3 miles there is a junction in the track starting the loop portion of the trail. We took the right junction.

From here the track gets much steeper. Some herring-boning, but mostly the angle was just enough to ski normally (still slipping a bit due to the rain). The trail climbs 1500 ft to the top of the Nason Ridge Plateau and then curves right. There are some wonderful views at 3000 ft. The high point is 3200ft but there are less views on that side of the ridge. There area  few maps sprinkled along the way as well. About halfway through the loop there is another intersection. Turning right will take you on a mini loop and then back on the main track. We bypassed this and continued left.

The trail descends rather steeply at times making for some nice gliding. There are switchbacks so care must be taken making sharp turns while traveling at high speeds downhill. The warmth of the day had softened the snow by then though and ski conditions were awesome. We ended up back at the car at about 3:30. Not bad for a 15 mile day!

This weekend’s activity ended up being different then what was originally intended once again. We were going to climb Cave Ridge and then Snoqualmie Peak. We first parked in the Alpental lot and went inside to ask if we could park there overnight. Three employees uncertainly told us maybe the upper lot. We drove to the very top upper lot and tried to verify that we could park overnight there with another employee. They said no and told us to drive back down to visitor services at Alpental and ask the service desk to call security to find out. We did so and still no one knew the answer. We were also told we could not park in the RV Overnight Fee lot since we drive a regular SUV. Instead we were directed to drive to the Forest Service Ranger Station to get an answer. We again did as suggested but no one there could tell us where to park overnight once again. Very frustrated at this point we gave up and drove to Smithbrook Rd (just beyond Stevens Pass). As an update I will say that  staff as The Summit at Snoqualmie has thus far responded to my emails regarding this matter and have been very helpful in planning future trips. I am still awaiting answers to some additional questions, but thus far I am happy with how promptly they addressed this issue. We will see how it goes with my followup inquiries.

As things would turn out we decided to head to Stevens Pass instead. We had our AT skis and decided to climb Union Peak since we would have enough time to get on the ridge before sundown even with the delayed noon start. We made good time up skinning up Smithbrook Rd. It was plowed through my snowmobiles so no need to cut trail. We were very aware of avalanche potential and kept an eye on distance slopes looking for recent activity. The forecast for all of the cascades was considerable except for below treeline which was moderate. We had a major rain event early in the week followed by a major so event so it was expected for there to be a weak layer of new snow on top of a stable, saturated layer.

After we passed the Lake Valhalla Trailhead an began to traverse along the lower slope of Union Peak along Smithbrook Rd we began to see lots of avalanche debris. In fact the debris was on the road. There was a snowshoe track through a large section of this debris. It seemed that snowmobiles though turned around. We stayed on the compacted trail. Most debris was older, but some new crowns very visible. About 2/3 of the way into the traverse the snowmobile tracks reappeared on the road. They had come straight up from the lower road switchback on the slope. The avalanche debris disappeared from the road after that.

From the Nason Ridge Saddle we turned off of Smithbrook Road and headed left up Union Ridge cutting our own track. The snow was thick and heavy so we didn’t sink much. The terrain is forested with lots of snow drifts. No avalanche concerns since we were still below treeline and on a ridge.  It was getting on into the evening hours as we get to the 1/3 point along the ridge to the summit. In front of us the ridge seems to descent. Then there was a massive hump that rose at treeline. It appeared that we might have to traverse around that feature. Since were were in a nice open flat area with great views we decided to call it a day at 5:00pm and set up camp. The avalanche danger was supposed to go own to moderate at tree level on Sunday and it made more sense to do the more treacherous climbing with lighter loads since we could leave a lot of gear at camp.

It snowed on and off as it had been all day. But there was no major accumulation overnight. Were were able to see the lights from Stevens Pass Ski Area. They were so bright they lit up the clouds on that side of the ridge!

The next morning we broke camp at about 7:30am and continued to break track along the ridge. The ridge descended for some time and then evened out until we hit the hump we had seen the previous evening. We traverse around the hump left (going right was not an option due to terrain) until we broke out of the tree and onto an open slope of 35-45 degrees. Supposedly the forecast was now avalanches moderate at treeline, but this terrain looked like to could slide due to the angle. From the edge of the trees we turned and looked upward. Instead of crossing the slope we decided to go directly up it to regain the ridge. There were a few more trees that way offering safe places to stop and evaluate. Plus, taking off our skis and going up seemed safer. Thus we put out skis on our packs and headed up. Damien broke the trail by half tunneling and half crawling up what ended up being a very steep slope. We  leapfrogged up going from tree clump to tree clump. I attempted to take a turn breaking trail, but my 5’5″ frame wasn’t built for efficient tunneling. I made tediously slow progress so Damien broke/tunneled the way up the slope from them on.

As we neared the top of the ridge we came across the huge wind slab which was slightly cornices. Damien found himself hip deep in the slab and it was deemed risky to continue around it to the ridge-top. The slightly safer option was to climb over the top of the cornice and onto the slope. However, this idea did not give us the warm fuzzies either. We opted to descend which was must faster than going up!

Back at the slope we had originally stopped at Damien mentioned that the snow was more stable than be had expected to to be as he tunneled up. Maybe could cross safely after all. But we weren’t entirely convinced So we decided to dig a snow pit. It was very clear that there was about 1 foot of fresh loose snow on top of a saturated, compressed stable layer. We performed the tap test first. It took 17 tapes of collapse. We began to dig a second pillar to do the shear test… it collapse almost on its open when Damien tap it by mistake when it was almost done. We performed both tests again. The shear test being the test that convinced us both to turn back. The unstable upper layer of snow sheared off the compressed layer with almost no effort.

We returned to camp and packed up. On the traverse along the lower slopes of Union Peak along Smithbrook Rd Damien thought it was safer to drop down to the lower switchback the way the snowmobiles had instead of crossing the old avy debris. The way down looked sketch to me as far as steepness and I didn’t feel comfortable side-hilling it in skis. Damien began to drop down while i put my skis on my pack figuring on could plunge step down. However, when I was all set up and ready to take my first step I saw that the snow was way more compressed than I anticipated, Too compressed to plunge step. I could go on the untouched snow, but the point was to stay in a compressed area to avoid avalanche danger.  Damien was already 1/4 of the way down so I told him to continue (he couldn’t get back up if he wanted to). I put my skins back on and climbed over the old avy debris along the road. It was stable on the track so there were no concerns although separating wasn’t our first option for sure.

Damien and I met up again 15 or so minutes later and continued our journey back to the trailhead. The ski down was excellent. I had my heels free since last time on this road earlier in the winter i didn’t get much glide. This time i definitely could have locked my heels. Damien had one heel locked and the other free.

So another fun trip and our first summit attempt of 2016… many more to come!