Today Steve, Chris, and I skied up the 4th of July Trail from the end of Sargent Cr Rd, toured across the front side of the range behind the Flats, and came down the Cope ATV trail. Conditions were pretty marginal. The snowpack above brushline is thin, wind-scoured, uneven, and generally pretty sad to behold. The bottom of a gully here and there had some wind-packed accumulation, but generally it’s pretty lame in the alpine. Oddly enough, the coverage down in the brush is quite good and this is one of the only times I have EVER done this loop where I literally skied the whole way from the car. That said, we just accepted the conditions and did an 11-mile low-angle, cruise-y tour.
Leaving the brush (and the semi-consistent snowpack):
Climbing onto windboard:
The alpine was scoured with mild sastrugi in places (though really no ice):
We had a nice run down a gully just past the high point, and the ski down the Cope ATV trail was actually kind of fun on sun-softened snow:
Do this loop if you want some exercise and the weather is sunny and relatively calm. It’s a pretty area and offers lots of route variations in the mountains behind the Flats. Don’t expect amazing snow up high unless we get some freshie. What really worries me is if we don't get some more wet snow storms. There is hardly any snow up high and if we go right into melt cycles it will be gone in a jiffy.
Nora, Patrick, Mike, Jamie, and I skied from the pass at Pyramid to Bells Flats today. We followed the same route Steve, Sharon, and I used last spring; kodiaksnow.proboards.com/post/3598
The weather was lovely and it’s an incredible area to tour through with big mountains and sweeping vistas, but the snow was completely atrocious almost everywhere. I had hoped for some sun softened slopes, but we found almost none. It was mostly boiler plate, rhino hide, rime, or sastrugi. I got about 2 dozen decent turns in over the 10-mile route. Do this trip for exercise and to see a beautiful and remote place, not for the epic skiing (right now).
Leaving Pyramid behind:
Up and over the dome behind the ski chalet:
Starting the climb from the Buskin/Elbow watershed pass:
Sharatin dominates the view, with the chalet dome to the right:
Climbing above Elbow Creek with Elbow Mountain in the background:
The snow was sooooo bad. Rancid dog doo:
Getting ready to scrape the crust down to Sargent Creek: