Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Moonlight Basin - 1.27.2018

Saturday started with the chilling whompf of our extended column test failing and propagating 85 cm down on buried surface hoar. We were standing on a 40 degree slope on Crudbusters with 2,000 feet
of avalanche terrain above us. And, it was -10 degrees. The margin for error was too small for us to risk awakening this sleeping dragon. It was time to call an audible and head for the maritime snowpack of milepost 24.

Skinning out of the second parking lot of the day, the views weren't bad:

Photo: Rachel Heath

In our snowpit half-way up, we were happy to find two meters of dense, consolidated snow and stable test results. I love maritime snowpacks. Just below the pass between Little Odessey and the Goodwills, the snow became wind affected. So, we transitioned from uphill to downhill. I dropped first into the creamy snow:


Andrew brought up the rear, bringing along his seal of approval.
Photo: Rachel Heath

With the moon rising above us we headed back up for more. Across the way, we drooled over the iconic Wortmanns zones. The Bench Glacier, which my grad school research was based on, is over there too. I used the Bench because its basically a rectangle - easy geometry for computers and engineers like me to understand.

Photo: Rachel Heath

This time we skied Mega-Sumo off the south side of the Goodwills. Thanks to Matt Kinney's book I now know the names of more runs at Thompson Pass than at Turnagain. Like Mega-Sumo.

In the last light of the day we chased Rachel towards the car.


I was stoked to check out Moonlight Basin for the first time. Tucked out of the way, its protected from the bulk of the winds that flow through the pass corridor. Also, without big terrain above, its a good place to work into the snowpack or for unstable days.