Inspired by an endless Washington Winter I had to check out the swath. It’s giant avalanche path so entices me yet I wonder if she is the spider waiting for her prey. I could not resist, I had to have a closer look at her web.
From the bottom we wound our way up old logging roads and into the steep forest. We were now tap dancing in the earth mover’s path fully aware of the consequences of being here at the wrong time. Today we hoped would be the right time.
We wound are way up very steep trees just lookers left of the slide path. Even these trees would be deadly on a loaded day. The trees got even steeper so we had to carry skis. The cold powder up there was 4 -10 inches deep on a hard crust. I dug several hasty pits with my gloved hands but the snow was pasted to the hard layer Cascade style. One hasty dig near the ridge where the colder wind loaded snow usually has a harder time bonding I found some instability. I have been up here before but never been able to ski the fall line right from the summit into the heart of the avalanche slopes. Today though was another chance and lucky for me I had veteran avalanche ski cutter Adam McKenney with me. His 3 years as pro patrol at StevensPass and years spent steep skiing has given him an intimate knowledge of the cascade snow pack and how to deal with avalanche potential.
He would ski first and I would take pictures. The slope was loaded but not deeply. He started skiing and I started pressing the shutter. Adam delicately tested the slopes, bouncing, slicing and just trying to produce an avalanche but nothing moved besides the cold champagne powder under his skis. A few more turns and then he rips out the whole slope but not to the crust. A four inch layer above the crust goes but Adam is solid and watches the wide spread but shallow avalanche run beneath him. Not a slope for the timid skier.
The white spider lives and breathes just outside of town. She is 4200ft big and she is beautiful.