The Best of Winter and Spring
March has been cold so far, dumping more light powder in our mountains. For a little Climate Corporation reunion, Jeff, Jack, Patti and I made a short Saturday morning tour in the Alpental Valley to get the snow before it warmed up in the strong March sun. It was a fantastic little tour to ski the north side of Chair Peak in perfect conditions.
It was a cold 18 degrees at the trailhead, but warmed up quickly once we entered the sun at Source Lake. We were in a spring furnace as we climbed above Source Lake to the Chair Peak Basin. The snowpack all around us was impressive considering where it was only one month ago.
The skin was pretty easy all the way into the upper basin, where we had a magnificent view of Chair Peak.
There are a few ways to the north side. We chose the first notch in the ridge because it had a (sort of) skin track up it and seemed like the safest option.
Once on the ridge, we skinned for a ways up and down to the base of the NE Buttress. The view of Chair was grand.
The view down towards Snow Lake was a magical land of pillowly snow features and not a single tree. Beyond, Glacier Peak, the Monte Cristo Peaks, and the Alpine Lakes Crest dominated. Truly alpine.
Eventually, we reached the base of the NE Buttress. The ice on the route looked really good and the North Face also looked in prime condition. Maybe I’ll have to come back to climb it next weekend if conditions are still good! We watched a soloist starting up the route.
We transitioned here and traversed out for the start of our run onto the north slopes of Chair. The snow was nearly bottomless, pretty light, and super playful! The terrain was awesome, moderately steep and perched high above Snow Lake in a beautiful position.
We continued down and left through a wide couloir feature that gradually steepened before finally dropping down to Snow Lake.
Down at the lake, we took a nice break in the sun putting our skins back on.
Next, we began the long skin across Snow Lake. This time it was sunny and calm, much better than my previous skin across the lake in a cold head wind.
When we got back to the top of the Snow Lake Divide, Patti and Jack took a break in the sun while Jeff and I went up the ridge to the left for one more little run.
Jeff and I skied a short run of fantastic north facing trees with some good little steep sections. The powder here was definitely bottomless and dry. Then it was a short skin back to the divide once again to meet Patti and Jack. The final descent to Source Lake was a little challenging, since the sun over the last two days had destroyed the south-facing snow, but still pretty fun. We got back to the parking lot a little after noon, ready to get some burritos on North Bend!