Digging in a drift in Hillmans

January 9, 2021 at 2:00 PM
Name: Ben Mirkin| AIARE / Mooney Mountain Guides
Location: Bottom of Hillmans Highway

Towards the end of day 1 of an AIARE L1 course, we went to the base of Hillmans. There is very little snow in the gully, however, we quickly found a wind slab to investigate and immediately had cracks propagating out from our boots and shovels. Our intention was not to dig pits, just make snow observations, but seeing this, we investigated further. We crossed the gully and dug some very small pits in an easterly drift at 4050′ at the edge / wall of the gully. Our first ECT yielded ECTP 11 with Q1 sudden planar sheer quality, with a rock /ice bulge connecting in one corner. The next was in a similar drift 20′ upslope and the column slid cleanly upon isolation (ECTPV). In these drifts, the snow ranged from 30-70 cm with a strong (1Finger) wind slab as the upper 20 cm on top of facets to the ground.