Myself and 5 others headed out on Sunday from Agassiz parking lot for a traverse of the mountain via Spring Slide Canyon, exiting out the Pumice mine on the east side. For those up there on Sunday, you know all to well the strength of the wind was pretty strong out of the SW on western aspects with significant rime development occurring on trees and people.
Climbing up through Dutchman's, we proceeded up ridge between the wreck and the rollover marking Allison's where we found softer snow which offered us a noticeable and welcome break from the wind and slog up the wind slab-snow dunes.
Visibility at this point was modulating from white out to an occasional glimpse of the north side of Allisons.
This was the best weather of the day and only lasted for 5 minutes or so before returning us to the soup.
Cresting the ridge separating western aspects and the Cirque at 12,200ft, we took a short break from the wind after digging a pit and descended the cirque very carefully via Heck Yeah. Perhaps one of our group could comment on the pit observations taken here.
While descending via Heck Yeah, we all encountered brief moments of zero viz to the point of intense sensations of vertigo while descending. Sluff management was difficult given the lack of indicators such as speed and direction. The sluff was mostly pool-table size, 3-4cm thick and while a concern was manageable. Constant partner observation and spacing discipline from safe zone to safe zone was strictly observed.
Once descending through the thickest of the clouds, we traversed north to enter the lower Spring Slide runout to dig another pit. My observations are here:
The Q1 reading on the wind-loaded portions was enough of an alarm for us, so we scrapped our plans to skin up the higher portions of Spring Slide and ski down; opting instead to let it set up a little more and ski it another day. The powder to be had at the lower elevations between this pit site at 11,100 and 10000 was great and very much appreciated after the wind, sluff and vertigo encountered earlier.
Descending out to the Pumice mine via the usual route out of the IB, we encountered HARD rain-crust below 10000ft making for yet another interesting footnote to the day. The last few thousand vertical feet left my ears ringing, but we all made it down to ski another day.
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