Sunday, January 17, 2010

No Whumph - Kelly Mountain

Snow physics is truly interesting. Yesterday, Margie and I went on the same snowshoe route that I did 2 weeks ago on Kelly Mountain. Then (see previous blog), there were several minutes when I was willing to bet Alan and I would make the local paper for starting a slide down Norm's Hill. Just this past Thursday, the northern section of southeast Idaho got hit with a warmer, heavier layer of snow...a wonderful present for the upcoming (this) holiday weekend...and a night and day difference for this area's snow conditions.

Conditions 2 weeks before.


On the way up the Moose Canyon trail, we passed a group of beginner snowshoers and wondered why their "guide" chose the route we were on as it has a steady half-hour or so steep climb. At a junction, two of the group's members decided what we were doing looked more interesting than the turnoff the leader was taking and followed behind us. Noland had maybe 15 years on us (guessing) but was steady and very talkative up the whole ascent. At the ridge, his much-younger-than-us partner had fallen way behind. We had no intention of inviting them with us on the Moose Trail variation, because of it's length and strenuousness, and because someone, who will remain nameless, stayed up too late playing scrabble with a friend the night before and delayed the trip start by 3.5 hours. Since the day was short, we suggested Noland regroup with his friend, wished him well, and took off.

The weather was close to springlike for January. Little wind, lots of sun, and comfortable-cold temperatures. While we still had to break trail a good part of the way, a base of sorts feels to have formed in the snow, and the wind in the last two weeks has done some packing and consolidating as well. We reached the igloo (our usual trip stop) in what would have been record time if we hadn't spent as much time socializing with Noland as we did.

With far less trepidation than 2 weeks prior, we started down Dora's Drop onto Norm's Hill and on an already one-person broken trail. Big difference this time, no whumphs, no cracks, no thrills, no chills. Just an uneventful quick descent. So, it was back to the car and another good day of playing in Mother Nature's gym. (Check Avalanche.org for information about the area you are going.)

Unbelievably, I left my sapphire at home, but remembered the camera has video capabilities too. Just a short clip showing how nice a day it was.

video
(Make that Highway 26...you can't see I-15, but I had the direction correct.)

Gear Notes. Denali Evo Ascents: I field deployed my floats mid-trek for breaking trail. Removing them when back on packed trails required using my pole tip as a pry bar, just to help pop the set. I used the climbing bars on the steep ascent this time. Because the trail was punched already, the bars helped keep my weight directly over the teeth and kept me from backsliding. I didn't use them two weeks ago in the baseless powder. Traction was better then by having your weight closer to the ground to essentially kick and pack steps...no backsliding then either.

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