Avy Season Closes, Spring Ski Open Season!
And that’s a wrap. MM ski guide and avalanche instructor Dallas Glass checks in after the last avalanche class of the season. Seems the mountains wanted everyone to remember just how perfect a fun day of sunshine, spring corn, and good friends can be. While the avalanche education season is wrapping up, the backcountry ski season is in full force. Spring time is the time for steep lines and big tours. Join MM for a classic spring Cascade Ski Traverse.
Soaking up the sun on the skin track. The students enjoy the hike up
Lichtenberg’s South Shoulder. Dallas Glass photo
“Like so many of our courses this winter, we began by enjoying the hospitality of Evo, a local outdoor retailer, for our evening classroom sessions. After laying the foundation and having several great discussions we were ready to get outside and put our skills to the test.
Smooth wide open slopes! One of the reasons we get into the backcountry is to leave
the crowds behind and our groups didn’t see another touring party all day long.
Dallas Glass photo
“Saturday began with a short tour to the Grace Lakes basin near Stevens Pass, where we set down to business. MM avalanche instructor Laura LeBlanc led the students deep into the snow, digging snow pits. I always find that students love getting a chance to see how all the information from the classroom pieces together as we look down in the snow. The group ate lunch on a nice little knob with great views of Skyline Ridge and the Upper Tye River drainage. That afternoon everyone got in the mood for companion rescue with a few avalanche rescue cheers. While we may have looked silly, shouting and waving our arms around, I don’t think this group will forget the steps to companion rescue anytime soon.
“With great weather forecast for Sunday as well, the group decided to try to get some spring corn. We chose Lichtenberg Peak for our big tour day. With its broad SE and SW faces, it would be a corn skiing dream location. However, warm night time air temperatures allowed for only a shallow surface freeze of the snow. We struck out in two groups, heading up the peaks south shoulder. From the safety of the benches we watched as a barrage of wet loose avalanches poured down the SE face of the mountain. You just can’t buy better avalanche education than safely watching avalanches run. Well, one great part of spring skiing is when one aspect becomes unstable; another is just coming into corn. So, we shifted our sites to the SW slopes. The corn was turning to slush fast, so we quickly transitioned for our 1000’ decent into the valley. Wide open slopes and smooth snow led us to the valley floor. Another short hike up to look at some north facing terrain and it was time to head to the cars.
Slicing through the spring corn. It may not be powder, but there is definitely something
to be said for spring corn skiing/riding. Dallas Glass photo
“What an amazing weekend. Big mountains, beautiful weather, and great company! Who could ask for more?
“Avalanche education season may be over, but the ski season is far from finished. While many people this time of year start pulling out the bikes and thinking about summer; for those in the know it’s time for some of the best skiing of the year. Spring time here in the Cascades means big steep lines, long mellow corn laps, and iconic ski traverses. With our knowledge of avalanches and snow science fully in place it’s now time to put it to the test by getting out and playing in the snowy mountains all spring long. Just don’t forget the sun screen.”