Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hansen Creek Ski 2.25.14

After getting caught on the wrong side of the pass closure last week I decided to avoid any issues by looking for something on the West side. I have been up Hansen Creek a few times and I still need to cross off Scout Patrol Peak. I know the road grade is manageable with my marginal skiing abilities. I know the 7+ miles to the summit might be a tall order but I was willing to give it a shot. I didn't get an early start but I had plenty of time as I made my way up the very gusty I-90. When I reached the junction to the Annette Lake trailhead I was surprised the plowing ended. I wedged the Audi behind a pile of snow making sure I was out of the way or those who were going to need to turn around. I suited up quickly dodging the snow bombs being blown off the trees.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the middle of the road scraped of any new snow from the recent truck traffic. I was able to make good time to the junction with the Hansen Creek Road. I was again thankful for the recent truck traffic keeping the tralbreaking  to a minimum. I alternated from the middle of the road to the rutted portions depending on the snow. Above 2500' the snow started having a nice rain crust making for slower going. I kept plugging along, once reaching the turnoff to Scout Lake I gave some thought to changing plans. I decided to stick with the plan and continue on the road. Above 3000' the crust became even thicker making for tricky skiing I experimented with different tactics with limited success. Around 3300' the crust was thick enough to support my weight without allowing me to break through. This made skiing unpleasant with out any ski crampons. I decided to turn around.

I had some fear for my descent since I really don't have much ability on skis. I alternated from following my broken trail for the easier grade to using the untracked snow for the steeper portions. I was really trying to find away to control my speed. I noticed much improvement over the miles and by the time I reached the lower reaches I found easy going in the tire ruts. I was able to ski the last 2 miles of the Hansen Creek road without exerting much of any effort.  Once reaching the mainline I started to lose my steam but I was able to make it back to the car without too much discomfort.

Approx 9 miles 1500' of climb 4:30 car to car.

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