This trip was almost cancelled due to uncertain forecasts and conditions. I was concerned that the storm would create hazardous, unstable snow conditions at high elevations and rain would melt out the snow at lower elevations. We took a chance and went anyway. “you don’t know if you don’t go.”
Four brave souls joined Brian and I on a cloudy day heading up the Tuckerman Ravine trail. The avalanche forecasts called for stable snow conditions that could deteriorate later in the afternoon. We gladly took the stable base and would monitor changes as the day progressed and the snow (or rain) started falling.
The hike up saw clouds turn to mist, to rain, to slush, to sleet … to snow. By the time we reached HoJo’s it was snowing reasonably heavily and the visibility up towards Hillmans Highway and the ravine was limited. The snow at the base of Hillmans was a “firm slush(?)” with an inch or so of fresh, soft, wet snow and more still accumulating. By the time we reached the fork, about half way up, temperatures were dropping and the snow was becoming more firm. A couple of us on micro-spikes instead of crampons were starting to have uncertain footing. Visibility got worse and the lighting was becoming poor. We decided to head back down at the fork.
A couple of the folks with us had not seen avy shovels used for making platforms before. That, plus a few other tips and pointers allowed Brian and I to check off the “education” portion of the trip.
The ride down Hillmans was good, if short on visibility. The Sherb’ skied much better than I had feared. Despite hazards coming through and some very wet and slushy areas, I may have made it to the closure rope about 3/4’s of the way down without hitting any rocks.