Monday, December 14, 2009
Butler Fork to East Raymond Shoulder
Heading up the skinner I encountered two guys whom had taken an about face and were heading back to the car after several encounters with the infamous unconsolidated "WHOOMPFFF!" under the snow. I wished them well and decided to continue on for the XC adventure. Soon I encountered the infamous little fellows singing their praises "Whoompfa Loompfa Doopity Doo, I've got a warning message for you!" and I must admit at first that it is STARTLING, to say the least. The snow would unpredictably settle causing the eerie Whoompfing sound that would rattle the surrounding trees and shrubbery. I even spotted some vibrating trees as far as 150 feet from my person after such an event.
After fifty or so similar experiences I became acquanted with their banter and noted cracking and movements under the snow (remember this is all low angle). Scurrying and hurrying I made my way into the Olympus Wilderness area.
Originally I planned this tour to collect snow stability data for future ski tours. The data is important and monitoring it frequently to observe changes in the snowpack is key.
Once I made my way to the top of the Butler Fork trees, I was overwhelmed with shrubbery and growth and at first pondered my rules about this area and early season skinning. Often the snow is not deep enough here in the early part of the season and making passage through the growth and over it can be difficult. Not wanting to settle for the lower elevation snow I took a look at my surroundings and made a new plan.
After tromping and gliding along for an hour or so I decided to have some downhill experience. I also wanted to find a better route to the ridge that was
out of these thick trees. (The Snow was Good here).
Reaching the valley floor I made a hypotenoose like approach to the ridge seperating Big Cottonwood Canyon from Millcreek Canyon to the North.