Mt. Shuksan: Hanging Glacier Headwall
We took a few deep breaths, enjoyed the brief return of the sun, and took a few photos.
What followed were some of the best, and most improbably located turns of the year. Casual flowing arcs down the hanging glacier to what felt like the end of the earth.
At this point a skier can go either right or left. Turning right exposes the skier to a wide-ish snowy ramp, under huge looming seracs and a possible rock step half way down, while turning left involved a lot more steep jump-turning, two narrow chokes, and a probably ice step. As we are both far more comfortable down climbing ice than rock and were’t equipped to rappel, we headed left hoping for smooth stable pow.
Fortunately, things got a bit firmer, so we could stop worrying about slough, unfortunately that meant that the patch of “maybe ice” we’d seen from across the valley was almost certainly going to be ice.
“What’s it look like down there?!”
As I arrived at Allen, our suspicions were confirmed, there was an ice filled choke that we’d have to negotiate. I briefly suggested skiing through the section, a-la our adventure on Larrabee last winter, but Allen convinced me it had several obvious potential downsides, so we performed a pucker-inducing gear swap just above the ice step. “This will be a great chance to test out your new crampons Sam”… the crampons I’d adjusted for the first time on the fly on top of the run. Gulp.
Sure enough, right as I was about to start kicking steps into the harder neve, I looked down and noticed that my right toe was nearly half out of the crampon, as I was unroped and looking at the potential for a long fall, this was cause for concern. I managed to bury an axe, clip into it, and perform mid-climb crampon adjustment, but as one might imagine, I was a bit nervous about my feet for the remainder of the down climb.
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