03 May 2012

Lichtenberg Mountain

Here I go promising (threatening?) to tell you about all of my backcountry skiing adventures, and I fall off the face of the earth. Never fear, I'm alive, just really, really busy. Family, work, and a social life will do that to a girl. But I miss you blog readers, so here's another story for you!

On March 10, I headed out with a big group (8 people) up to Lichtenberg Mountain, which is off of Hwy 2 near Steven's Pass. The weather was Seattle-like: foggy and sleeting. It's not fun to start out a trip in the rain, but that's the way of life for Cascade skiers.

Heading up in the fog - Imran breaking trail

We skinned up through the trees and worked our way around avy debris to the top of the mountain. It was about 3,000 feet to the top and took a little over an hour. Wish I could say we had a nice view :( 

Stephanie near the summit

Instead of coming down the face/aspect we climbed, we chose to take a few laps off the back side. The snow was actually pretty great, and avy conditions were stable..

Skinning back up after our first lap - I am clearly not the fastest one in the group. Our tracks down are to the right.

We took two laps off the back side, then the weather cleared a bit for our descent down the front. The final ski out was much more fantastic than any of us anticipated! We were all surprised because it didn't seem great on the way up, but it was fluffy and fast on the way down!

On the trip out, I had my first experience of skiing out through pine-needle covered snow in the trees. I can confidently say the last few hundred feed of any backcountry day are my least favourtie: they are riddled with hazards (downed trees, stumps, potentially eye gouging branches) and have the worst, heaviest, wettest, most-miserablest snow. But, we had a great day!

Now, not to be a Debbie Downer, but I feel as though I would be remiss to not mention this: About three weeks after this trip, we got sad news. Two of the people skiing with the group on Lichentburg, Knox and Kimberly, were visiting from Colorado. On March 30, Knox was caught in a massive avalanche in Colorado and was killed. I only spent one day with him, but his death has been a sobering reminder for all of us. He was a very experienced skier and an all around cool, nice guy. This is very sad and my thoughts go out to his family and loved ones.

If you're interested, you can read this article about Knox or look at pictures of the slide here.

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