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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

We wrapped up our avalanche edu­ca­tion sea­son this past week­end with a cou­ple of the pret­ti­est days I’ve had in the moun­tains. What an unbe­liev­ably fast win­ter. Seems like only yes­ter­day I was dri­ving East on Hwy 542 to Mt Bak­er and our first avalanche course of the sea­son. Now, four months and a dozen class­es lat­er I found myself lath­er­ing on sun­screen and try­ing to time corn ski­ing rather than com­ing up for air in Cas­cade powder. 

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.”