| Huron - Snow Conditions
Route: North Ridge (Standard)
Elevation Gain: 3,500'
Gear: Snowshoes, skis, poles (1 whippet), AT ski boots, beacon, shovel, snowmobile!
Snow Conditions: Hardpack along the upper ridge, powder from 13,600' to tree line and corn all the way back to the upper trailhead. A mellow ski, but some really good April snow conditions.
A few years back I skied Huron's northwest slopes in late May and have been trying to get back to ski it with better conditions. So last week I went on a recon mission to see if I could ride the sled all the way to the upper trailhead. There was a lot of side-hill riding, but I made it to the end without problems.
With the recent snowfall and good temps, today was the day. I hoped the route would have more snow than last time and a continuous line from the summit. Both turned out to be true. The best ski line today (from this approach) was not the upper northwest slope but along the north ridge and into the bowl between Huron and Browns Peak.
Topo of the route (yellow=sled, orange=hike, blue=ski):
Click images for a larger versions
The view of Granite Mountain (12,848') during the morning ride:
At the trailhead - that was easy!
During my early morning ride to the trailhead, I knew what was waiting for me; A painful snowshoe to tree line. I was ready! Not. After parking the sled and starting up into the trees, I found the snow conditions to be a shoers nightmare. Crusted, deep, collapsible snow. The first 800' feet of elevation took me 1 1/2 hours. A few times I just started laughing because I was drowning in the snow. Some of you may be familiar with this...the more I stepped, the deeper I sank, creating bomb-holes as I tried to gain ground. Skins/skis wouldn't have been any better because the hard surface was slick and the terrain steep, so I left on the shoes.
Near 11,700', the forest thinned and the conditions improved dramatically. Ok, a couple more hours of my life lost to sh***y snowshoeing.
Below Huron's northwest slope.
The climb east out of the bowl and towards the north ridge.
Hiking the broad slope below the final pitch.
Once at the base of the final pitch it started to snow. I ditched the snowshoes (with great pleasure) and started up the rocks. The trail was snow-covered, so I just rock-hopped straight towards the top. I was happy to see snow coverage along the east edge of the ridge and it's what I used for the ski descent. Orange=hike, blue=ski.
After returning to my snowshoes, I decided to ski the easy bowl between Huron and Browns Peak (13,523') so I'd have a continuous ski to the bottom. Plus, I knew the slope was loaded with powder.
A look back before entering the trees. Casual ski with great powder.
That hard surface below tree line had turned to sweet corn and I managed to find open pockets that didn't collapse.
Another good spring ski day.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):