Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mt. Pattison Attempt

With the easy access to the Blackcomb lifts closing in a few days, we thought we would take advantage of it and go and search for some fresh powder in what was almost June. The NW face of MT. Pattison fit the bill quite nicely. Not that crowds would be a problem this late in the season, it would be nice to get a little further than the regular Mt. Decker or Phalanx trips. 
Skinning up Decker, the 150mm focal lnegth makes the cornice look much closer than it actually was.
The forecast called for mostly cloudy skies which is only ok in this area if the clouds are high enough, this is not a good place to be with no visibility. It seemed sunny as we arrived in Whistler but when we made it up to the base of the tbars we were in a thick cloud that was acting like a greenhouse. Knowing this area fairly well, we trodded on, skinned up beside the Showcase tbar, across the Blackcomb glacier and up to east col. The ski down to Decker lake was just ok as you couldn't see where you were tuning in the very flat light. The lack of a good freeze up overnight made us cautious of the avalanche conditions and we traversed far around the main face of Mt Decker and up on to its NW ridge for lunch of sour watermelons and cliff bars. The snow had melted off of a SE facing slope exposing some bushes and making a good habitat for two white birds (in the process of being identified let me know if you have insight) that I could have watched for hours.

The planned route

View down to Decker Creek

Ashley on top of Decker in January
Same spot (ish), late May!

Decker Trorey col

Bird I was fascinated with.

Sour watermelons are the best form of nourishment

After lunch and applying our 4th layer of sunscreen for the day, we headed down through the opening in the ridge separating the Trorey and Decker glaciers, the snow was mush again and started skinning up the Trorey glacier with a ceiling that was dropping pretty rapidly. By the time we were 3/4 of the way up the glacier we could not see much and decided that we had come far enough, Pattison would have to wait until another time. 

This made quite the tan line. 

up the Trorey gl

Now you see it (Mt Pattison)

Now you dont

Nice turns down Trorey

More turns, you can see the notch in the cliff band that you ski through to get here. 

The skin back was an adventure on its own, the visibility was negligible up high so we thought it was probably safest to return the way we came rather than ascending up over the Trorey - Decker col. Skining up the first face with nearly isothermal snow was not ideal, we took it one at a time as to not catch each other in a slide that someone climbing might have started. The ski down the front of Decker was good on top of a supporting crust. We had to throw hand fulls of dirt ahead of us on the skin up in places in order to see the relief in the snow. Skiing back through the resort was brutally sticky, we were lucky that a cat had groomed the road from 7th Heaven!

Luc skinning up notch

turns down Decker

For the skin back up to the entrance to Bodybag bowl we had two goals: Avoid this rocky ridge and traversing a steep slope. We failed at both. 

Sun shining off Disease Ridge. 
Gorgeous evening in the Coast mtns. 

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