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Apr 26 2012

Hull Mt. March 28, 2012

Finally got some snow in the Coast Range that lasted longer than a day.  Headed up with Mark Chon on Wednesday, March 28.  Still a bit of snow on Elk Mt. on the way in. This was the first time this season that Hull has been deep enough to ski.
What a strange year! In the 17 years of skiing this mountain, I’ve never seen a ski season quite like this one. Hull is usually skiable from December through May.
Sometimes as early as Thanksgiving and can have deep drifts well into June.
We were feeling lucky to be there for the first time this season in late March.

Mark skiing up

The scaled skis worked well without the use of skins. The snow was still fresh. Breaking trail in fresh snow at Hull usually means sinking in a few inches. Wet, dense snow that sticks to everything. This day was no exception. Found it had snowed a bit lower than what the radar had shown. The manzanita and trees were covered in snow. We were prepared for a storm day. This translates to fog, vertigo and high winds. But we were in for a surprise. The sun was peeking through the clouds from time to time. Should have gotten here earlier.

Heading up into the fog

If the sun won over the clouds, our only hope of getting good snow was the wind.
This late in the year at Hull, the corn doesn’t last long. The snow was beginning to change a bit. It was a little firmer and more of a dense styrofoam texture. A few drifts and areas of wind affected snow felt good on the skis. The wind, which we could hear from lower down the mountain, could finally be felt. More sunshine and several feet of snow. We needed the clouds to hold and the wind to continue.  It was good to be home.

It was not a storm day. The snow hadn’t consolidated yet. The day before was cloudy with only a trace of precipitation. No freeze/thaw cycle yet. The styrofoam snow had gotten firmer up here, but was still a bit punchy. The wet snow that falls on Hull blankets the manzanita and pushes it down. At one point I got ‘manzanited’. Kind of like a tree well, but different. The snow that sits on top of the manzanita collapsed and dropped me about 3 feet. My skis were hanging, tangled in the branches several feet off the ground. I struggled to free my skis, but only dropped lower. Just when I thought I’d have to remove my skis, I found the balance point and stepped onto firmer snow.

We summited and hunkered down a bit to the east, out of the wind. A few whacks of my ski pole showed manky conditions in Sundream Bowl.  The snow was deep enough, but we needed some wind buff to ski on. I figured our best bet was to stick to the ridge.
We dropped into Sundream Bowl in the fog. Firm, wind buffed snow mixed with punchy mank that was hard to see because of the vertigo.  We hooked up with the ridge and skied it down to West Butte

don’t miss 5:37…

 
The flat light and all the snow covered trees blanched out the footage from my Contour helmet cam. It also caused me to not see a sharp rise in the snow. I ended up going right over the bars. Here is Marks footage. It happens at 6:10.

 

The lower portion of Hullaska Ridge

Snow ghosts and fog on Hullaska Ridge

Looking back towards Timberline Camp



We headed up the ridge between the snow ghosts and the alternating fog and sun.
We stuck to the ridge for the wind which was coming from the west. When the sun came out, it was hot. If we dropped off the ridge or were protected from the wind, behind some trees, it was hot. It was still below freezing however. The snow on the trees wasn’t moving.

Mark skinning through the snow ghosts.

Skinning up from West Butte.

The summit.

Looking south, down to Lake Pillsbury.

 

Mark's setup, Vector BC's with Plum binders.



The snow was tricky to ski. It would have helped if we could see. The snow on the ridge was firmer and we found some good turns. Almost corn with just enough punchy, mank to keep us awake. The heat was on and the snow wasn’t going to hold much longer. The trees had begun to branchalanche. The run down was slow and sloppy. But we were happy. It was so good to be back at Hull. With some luck, I just might get a few more days in up here this season.

A few shots from the top of Elk Mt. on the way out.

Hull Mt. from Elk Mt.

Snow Mt. as seen from Elk Mt.



Stopped in at the Blue Wing Saloon in Upper Lake on the way out.

© 2012