A half-dozen friends seemed stoked for a long tour into the Inner Basin (IB) of the Kachina Peaks. By 6am Sunday morning, the group had shrunk to JMoney, BDog and I. We ate at Mike and Rhonda’s where breakfast also gets you lunch if you wrap up the leftovers in a tortilla! I thought that much of the snow below 8000 had melted or turned to ice, but my 4wd with chains got shutdown in about 200 yards of forest track… it was going to be another big skin (up hill ski) in…
The big avalanche path on the North side of Fremont Peak has been high on J’s tick list and when he saw it filled with early season snow, he just had to get a closer look. His stoke and some lunch kept me moving. We discussed the snowpack and route selection and off we went towards the high-angled alpine… Sometimes I would catch up to J, about the time he finished digging to the ground.
With this pit that J dug, we could analyze the snowpack. When traveling into the biggest avalanche path of the IB, it is a good idea to check the stability of the snowpack. Remember – geologic time includes right now!
Is it luck that on this day there was soft settled powder and a very stable snowpack? Whatever it is, finding safe powder on steep open slopes in the Kachina Peaks is rare.
Five hundred feet of steep stable powder in Arizona? It must be luck! Of course I had to push my luck by doing a slightly exposed traverse to the top of a steeper and narrower side chute.
I assembled my splitboard into snowboard mode while my mind bathed in the silent and focused wave of pre-adrenaline. I dropped in… about 200 feet and six turns later, I exited the side chute onto the main face. There I maxed my turn radius and in about 10 seconds arrived to our predetermined safe-zone where I waved “all clear” to J.
Unless we have an a-typical winter, this line and many others will become unstable and avalanche prone until spring… Finding yourself here and asking “why are there no limbs on the tree’s uphill side?”, is asking for “bad luck”.