Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hale-Bopp: December 24, 2010

I'm somewhat embarrassed posting a drama free tour. Sure it was cold. Yeah it was an aesthetic line. Hall-Bopp is one of the Summit 49ers. All good things, but compared to the excitement down in Utah: my line was a yawner. Up here, nobody took a ride in a potentially deadly slide. There are no threads on tele-tips discussing the ramifications of my run. No one hopped a train out of Elko. No signs were stolen. There were no stare-downs with anti-personel artillery. Just another gorgeous run in a spectacular location.

Sorry for the let down.

In the Summit Lake area, there are a disproportionate number of peaks that are 49xx' tall. Obviously, I hope to collect the whole set. Hale-Bopp (4970') is between Upper and Lower Summit Lake. I parked at the pull-out on the North side of Lower Summit Lake and followed the skinner across the bridge and past the cabins. The skinner continued towards Raven Ridge, but I was interested Butch Ridge. Click for the map. I veered left and set the skinner/booter up Butch passing not one, but two Wolverine Cirques in the Sky. I continued over Nancy Peak and made the final push to the top of Hale-Bopp.

Today was day 23 without snow. It was 15 below at the lake and the temp hasn't cracked +10 in weeks. The snow structure is garbage. The entire snowpack would be facets if not for the Thanksgiving Rain Crust (TRC). Thankfully, the TRC (12" down) is supportable. Without it schussers would be punching through to the tundra on each turn. The sugar sloughs are running fast and long on top of the TRC.

The hoar on the South Face of Hale-Bopp sparkles in the sun. Its 2,500' to Butcher Creek. The pitch is perfect for boot deep effortless skiing. The weak bonds in the snow shatter with each turn. The crust announces itself on the steep roll-overs. My tracks cannot hold from and collapse into themselves. All vertical micro-features cave in. It's like trying to build a sand castle well above the high tide line.

Sure, the ski today was nice, but I see chairlifts in my future.

-Adam Lang

Washed Out Turns

Spirit Walker: Another Kenai 49er

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