Day 63 – Taylor Mountain

Distance: 11.1 miles

Vertical: 5012'

The forecast predicted a high of around 10 degrees, low wind speed, and partly sunny skies until about 1pm. After that they predicted snow showers. A good forecast for a big tour up high.

I hoped we could make our descents before the snow started, but the clouds rolled in just after we reached the summit.

As we descended towards the north bowl, we received a big shock. Half of the upper mountain had avalanched and left 3000′ of debris in our ski path. It looked like at least a 5 foot crown. Based on what we could see from the ridge on skier’s left side of the bowl, the avalanche had naturally released during the temperature meltdown on February 14-15. There was about 8-12″ of new snow on top of the debris.

Avalanche Fracture Line, Taylor North Bowl

We had to decide if we should abandon the route. After discussing it for about 10 minutes, we decided to continue. Our reasoning was this: The big storm cycle had ended about 5 days ago and the weather had turned very cold instead of very warm. The massive natural avalanche had released the tension. The reason the skier’s left side of the mountain didn’t slide is because the starting zone is not as steep.

So we continued. The skiing was not very good. Lighting was very poor and we kept hitting avalanche debris under the 8-12″ of new snow on top of it. Once we were down the bowl, the lighting improved.

As we approached the gully into Moose Creek, the sun came out. We did a bonus lap on a west facing bowl below the Taylor Mountain ridge. The snow on that was very nice.

When we got to the top of the gully into Moose Creek, the clouds descended and it started snowing. The lighting was very flat and the snow was wind affected and inconsistent. The skiing was less the optimal.

The hike out was long, but beautiful. Deep snow coated everything and there was no sign of humans.

Based on conditions, especially my physical condition, tomorrow is a rest day ;)

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