Friday, December 3, 2010

Mail Cabin Recon

Avy report says Considerable, which seems a bit low to me. At 9300 feet there is 15" of new, since midnight the upper elevation winds have been 30 mph gusting 40. It's 33F at the house at 8am. Bob and Chris and I decide to go for a very conservative day on the pass, like maybe out to Mount Elly and back.

At the top of the pass at 11:00 am there are still plenty of parking places if you can get to them. First you have to shovel through the 2.5 foot wall of snow from the plowing. The earliest cars have been plowed in, have fun with that. We decide instead on a Mail Cabin tour. The Coal Creek parking lot is mostly plowed, there is easily a foot of new there.

There is a track up to East Fork of Mail Cabin, and from there I start breaking trail. Not bad when I can stay on top of the old track, and heavy going when I can't. Mike and Lynne, some old friends from Idaho Falls, catch up with us and share some trailbreaking until they peel off up to the west. We plan to head for the forks, but don't get quite that far. Chris is having blister issues (it is early season, remember!) and the trail breaking does get tiring. We stopped just short of 8000' for some lunch. I dug a snowpit, with a few taps got a easy Q3 shear at the fresh snow interface, and the next shear (CT18) was right at the ground (about 4' depth). The column stayed intact, just detached itself from the ground.

Chris's feet had had enough, so we declared victory and skied back out. On the way back over the top of the Pass, the parking lot was still mostly snowbank.  Speaking of snowbanks, the banks on the west side are a good 6' high, as tall as they ever were last winter. And it's only December 3rd...

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