East Side Conditions Updates

May 7, 2021 at 9:00 AM
Name: Jonathan Shefftz| NE Rando Race Series
Location: NE Snowfield, Chute, Hillman’s

Route details here: https://www.strava.com/activities/5259174688 … along with a few pics.

Arrived in Bowl around mid-morning Friday to a uniformly smooth white layer of the new snow that had arrived on the tail end of the rainstorm. Ascended Right Gully behind eight (non-skiing) hikers, one of whom had been abandoned at the base of the couloir by his partners (after he kept falling & sliding while attempting to get any higher yet was too scared to retreat down), another of whom was incapable of climbing the steeper snow so diverted to ascender’s left into the buttress where he proceeded to kick off three rounds of rockfall (scary!) directly in my path (although at least he yelled out for all of them, and apologized after one of them). The brief non-snow connection to Alpine Garden trail wasn’t too bad (although LH summer rt is probably the better choice now, for many reasons), and could start skinning immediately from there.

NE Snowfield was glorious, and could even squeeze out 700′ vertical (from several feet shy of the Auto Road to a skier’s left dogleg). A few very small pockets still had fresh dry snow over a somewhat rattly refrozen base, but otherwise the new snow had corned up beautifully without any noticeable interface with the old snow.

Traversed across NE Snowfield through East Snowfield (with the medium-high route about to be choked off) and through SE Snowfield into the Bowl. The Lip had looked good from the base of the Bowl during my earlier ascent, with only a few easily avoided crevasses, but I was worried about any previously open crevasses that might be covered with fragile snow bridges. So I kept traversing across the very smooth upper headwall into Chute: ideal conditions (despite a steady amount of skier traffic during my four laps on the NE Snowfield), with only minimal sluffing and no runnells.

Diverted initially from my ascent of Left Gully to assist potentially with what witnesses reported what appeared at first to be a repeat of this: https://mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/sliding-fall-exit-of-right-gully/ … complete with a “Maybe…” response to shouts of “Are you okay?” but fortunately he was okay, and this served merely as a valuable reminder that Right Gully is easy relative only to everything else in the Bowl.

Ascent of Left Gully revealed same ideal spring conditions as elsewhere, with some proto-mogul conditions in the narrower middle section. Upon topping out, new snow allowed for skiing almost the entire way to the skier’s left entrance in Hillman’s, which offered ~1,100′ continuous vertical, yet again all nice spring snow, with just a few maneuvers required down low. Numerous choke points could upon up very soon though, and a few of the emerging hazards are somewhat subtle.

After four laps, portage-y snow below the ~1,100′ continuous snow continued almost all the way to HoJo’s. Then the top ~600′ of the TRT below HoJo’s had ideal snow for a very fast and efficient combination running, shuffling, and boot glissading pace, so the downhike wasn’t as miserable and arduous as usual for this time of year. (And on the drive back, caught a twilight glimpse from Route 2 of King Ravine, which looked really good – at least from that distance, and in that fading light.)