After drooling over Pillar frontside(east face?) for the last five years, I felt it was time for a little recon. I’d heard there was a snowboard track just above the scree slide, so I wanted to see for myself. Skinned up the trail just above the gravel pit. Thanks to the snowshoer who broke trail halfway up, the skin wasn’t too bad. The track is in and hopefully it is used accordingly. I reached the top, and poked around. Lots of wind loading and snow being transported down slope(east side was the leeward). Settling and cracking everywhere. I kicked off at least three sluffs, none more than 6 inch deep and propagated 20-30 yards. Snow was variable with good pockets of knee deep pow or wind loaded slabs. I found the remains of the snowboard track near a big spruce just above the gravel scree. My original plan was to skin back towards the Pillar mountain road, and lap the bowl. But my skins malfunctioned. I thought about following the snowboard exit, but it looked hairball. So I sidestepped and traversed toward town. The traverse without skins was not ideal, but I made it to the houses above the K.I. ( sorry to whoever’s backyard I poached). Skinning to the gravel pit was the original plan. I think one could lap the frontside, if you pay attention to the snowpack and terrain. Lots of cracking and sluff. If it’s any indication of what’s going on up high, avi danger will be considerable. On a side note, I made above the switch back on Anton Larsen road in my vehicle. The plow was working on it. That was probably around noon. Stay safe and Tips Up!
Thanks for the report. Back during out last La Niña snow year in 2012, I often skinned up Pillar from my house and did laps above the channel. It was great, and once I even snowboarded down the road to within 1 block of my house. That was cool.
Nora, Ryan and I skinned up the road and skied the trees on the ex boyfriend trail - it's not just for bikers anymore! It was actually calm in the lee of the trees and really good skiing. Much better than Pyramid was yesterday. Deep powder. Patrick
I skied up Pillar Mtn Road this afternoon and it was pretty unpleasant. The ice patch at the start is nicely covered by 6” of soft new snow, but by about half way to the gravel pit you start experiencing a pernicious crust at the surface that has set up over basically the whole mountain. Near the top it was cold enough that the punchy skin is less noticeable, but I had to very gingerly snowplow my way back down the road because any attempt to parallel turn had my skis locked in their own ruts. I was on light A/T gear. If anyone headed up walking or snowshoeing wants to walk in my ski track, be my guest. That’s what I’ll be doing tomorrow.
It’s still nice going up. But the ski down is just lousy.
Lovely views on top with a cool breeze and relatively even storm coverage.
Pillar is really nice right now. The new blanket of snow has mellowed the now-buried crust a bit. Decently uniform new snow coverage. I wanted to ski off the top down a particular gully but saw some deer at the bottom and didn’t want to disturb them, but everywhere I went there were deer. Oh well.
I walked up Pillar in a sodden mist this afternoon. It’s mashed potatoes bottom to top. When the temps drop this week (especially this next weekend) expect a bulletproof crust up there. Probably nice for walking, not so nice for much else. Still a sheet of ice from the gate to the KEA substation 200 yards up, and then snow after that.
KEA drove their PistenBully up the road and groomed/packed a track. The tracks broke up the snow so it’s kind of like chunky kitty litter, but still okay walking. If you have light snowshoes, they would also be an acceptable option. Poles in any case. A grader was working between the gate and the electric substation and managed to scrape the ice down to gravel. Impressive.
Same conditions as earlier up on Pillar. A kinda chunky cat-track up. I recommend snowshoes and poles for efficient walking, but most people still seem to churn their way up without any winter travel aids. Some skiers and snowboarders have also made the trip up, but the snow quality is nothing to rave about. The views on top are awesome on these clear days in any case.
If you have a fatbike and want a place to ride on snow, the road up Pillar is pretty perfect right now. After the electric substation it’s nicely packed snow. A night ride up with lights would be fun. Good for walking too, obviously.
Pillar Mtn Road remains a lovely respite in these troubled times. I often see some combination of the same community members wandering up or down the cat track, and we pause to remark (at a safe distance) on our toboggan ride into surrealism. If you mean to shuffle off this mortal coil for a few hours on a mild afternoon, you could do worse than Pillar.