I checked my map and was really confused how the GPS could be so inaccurate — it was showing that we were on the wrong side of the road. After orienting myself for a moment I spoke up and announced that we might be going in the wrong direction. Luis was next to speak up, saying “oh yeah, I’m pretty sure we’re going in the wrong direction, because there’s a massive volcano behind us…”
The first couple steps of the booter went well but the snow conditions rapidly deteriorated. As rotten and wet as the right fork had been, the left fork was rotten and dry. The snow was so faceted and weak that I had to take massive steps uphill to avoid breaking down into the previous step.
I found a hold on a rock above me and started to pull myself up off the ledge when Jamie, who’d apparently taken the route I deemed unclimbable, shouted a warning that the rock was loose. I had tested the rock as a hold a couple times and didn’t notice any movement but I trusted her. So rather than pull down on the rock, I jammed my hands into the crack between the boulder and the bedrock to pull myself up and onto the summit!
I found one soft turn that transitioned to windboard before transitioning back to soft and nearly got bucked off my skis! After a couple of weird turns I was in the apron and skiing beautiful cold winter powder.
Most of the time on the east side I find myself constantly moving, either pushing desperately for a summit or descending eagerly back to safety, but in that moment I found peace and happiness and the ability to bask unconcerned.
As I exited the couloir, I made a hard right to try to get as close to the PCT as possible, but the combination of large suncups and embedded rocks made for difficult skiing. Linking turns was difficult because I never knew when the next suncup might be five feet deep or have a rock in the bottom of it!
We had a short discussion of the hazards, mostly worried about potential wet loose slides and rockfall and I started down the slope first. The snow wasn’t ideal, but it was delightfully slushy and fun! We traded leads down the slope setting off several wet sluffs. We frequently found the sluffs to be better skiing than the adjacent consolidated slush!
After five seconds I heard him shout “SLIDE!” I quickly descended to where he’d begun his ski cut hoping to get eyes on him and immediately found him skiing on the far right side of the ramp as a wet slab made slow progress down the center of the ramp.
The snow was soft and fun skiing. I arrived at the narrow section which I’d identified on the climb and had altogether too much fun making jump turns down the tight chute, both tips and tails landing on rocks with every turn.
Kevin eyed the gully for a second before deciding he didn’t want any of it and he too turned around to take a mellower route. I decided to take my chances but soon found my tails sliding out from under me and next thing I knew I was sliding downhill head first. Casey rounded the corner just in time to see me carom past a large pine at the outlet of the gully.