We skied up the Asulkan Valley last Saturday morning (Feb 13th). Usually when we come this way we're going to the hut with overnight packs; this time it was a pleasure to be traveling light and moving quickly.
We followed a well-worn skin track through the mousetrap and then began breaking trail up to climbers left of the cleaver. The forecast wasn't great so we were trying to leave some options open. We could come back the way we came; or we could sneak over the top of the cleaver to the Dome Glacier; or, more ambitiously, we could ski over Sapphire Col and exit out the Lily Glacier and Loop Brook (we had shuttled a car just in case).
Several hours later, with our heads down into the biting wind, we made the last long pull across the upper glacier to the col. When we arrived the visibility was crapping out and we couldn't see the steep slope that drops down to the Lily. Resigned to returning the way that we had just come, we ducked into the hut for a hot drink and something to eat. The respite from the wind made the tiny hut seem cozy and warm at first but it didn't take long for the cold to get into our bones and we figured we'd better get a move on.
By the time we looked outside it had cleared just barely enough to see down to the Lily. Time was getting on but we thought we'd be okay if we didn't dawdle. Seemed like a good plan at the time! Down we went.
We soon realized that this slope wasn't exactly the most stable piece of terrain we'd seen today. It took an age to pick our way down. Then the tedious haul across the flats seemed to take forever as these things do when you're in a rush. Finally the Lily started steepening into the long gentle run that we knew from our only previous visit. But something was a little different this time...
Crevasses. Or, more precisely, semi-bridged-difficult-to-see-in-the-fading-light crevasses stretching across much of the glacier. Our previous visit had been in April but here we were in February, hence the encroaching darkness, and in a year with a below average snow pack.
We hummed and hawed. We debated options. We went left. We went right. We checked the time. A lot. We picked our way down. It was by the light of three headlamps that we arrived back at the car.
Not a single photo; all three of us forgot our cameras.
March 7th: Just found a photo on Brenda's camera that she took when we got back to the car.
Conditions Update Apr 11 2017
2 weeks ago