Boo Yah Achieved.
In a big way. Yesterday was rare. A perfect storm of sorts, but with good conditions, not bad. Low 40's, blue bird, no wind, soft(ish) snow. Doesn't sound all that amazing but considering we were on Mt. Washington in March it's pretty damn awesome.
Bill made the call last week that we should try and get on the Gulf of Slides for this weekend and we immediately jumped on the chance. No one had been on that side of the Boot Spur to date and everyone was anxious to check it out. It can be more dangerous at the Slides when conditions are bad, but avy danger was low for the weekend, the only thing you had to watch out for was ice. Thanks to the abundant sun, ice wasnt too much of an issue.
The hike up was tough in spots, but to be expected when you are hiking up a trail designed to be skied down. I developed some hotspots on my heels about halfway up that ended up turning into some sweet blisters that I will be nursing for the next few days, but the pain was manageable and I was having too much fun to care. We made pretty good time getting to the basin in just over 2 hours. The closer we got to the basin you could start to see the signs of avalanches past...trees snapped off halfway up, piles of brush. Pretty cool to see first hand but also kinda sobering / scary.
You can see some of the broken trees in this little Gulley
Main Gulley. Where are the crowds? Oh yeah, they are all on Tucks. All 800 of them.
After a quick lunch at the basin we suited up for the hike up the headwall. We had about 1000 vertical feet to go. It was somewhat slow going, the slope wasn't scary steep but we all wanted to make sure we had solid footfalls and for awhile we were setting our own bootpack, which can be scary (Thanks Bill!). We took our time and topped out after about an hour.
Snow conditions at the very top were semi-boiler plate but we were able to traverse a bit to the main gulley where the snow was more manageable. The actual snow conditions were kind of hard to explain...hard in spots, softer in spots, a bit crusty. It was more mental than anything else, edges were holding, but you had to stay strong through the whole turn and really make sure you had your balance in control...one lapse and the snow would grab you for sure. No one had any issues and we all had great runs back down to the basin.
And that wasn't all! After our run on the bowl we still had a 2 mile ski back down the Gulf of Slides Trail back to the cars at Pinkham Notch. Luckily we started heading back down before things had a chance to harden back up. A perfect long easy run out after a perfect day on Washington.
I also took my Garmin along, unfortunately I screwed up all the data. I had been planning to track our hike up to the basin and then stop recording there and start it back up for our ski back down to the cars. All was going well until I accidentally bumped the start timer button half way up the headwall. So in essence the device though we shot up 500 vertical feet out of nowhere, and then shot back down to the basin when I turned it back on for our ski out. So basically the data isn't accurate at all...the elevation graph is pretty funny, it is very easy to see where things get a bit screwy. Oh well, live and learn.