Observations – Canyon Road – Peak 3
Obvious signs of instability:
Surface Conditions (most noteworthy hazard):
- Rain dimpled (chattery), boilerplate melt-freeze crust (textbook slide-for-life) – smooth at higher elevations (above ~3700′)
- Partly cloudy skies with temps in the mid 20s and moderate SE wind
Don’t bother bringing skins to Canyon Road – just be ready for hiking on mostly dry ground to the gullies proper then transitioning to crampons for the boot up. Having a self arrest device in hand, like the Black Diamond Whippet, is a good idea as well.
Something along the lines of the lightweight CAMP XLC390 crampon (as in 390 grams) is the ticket:
Tough skis with SHARP edges are mandatory for the descent – the Voile Vector (lightweight, bombproof durability, lean and mean for hardpack and mankiness, yet enough girth for pow playfulness) is arguably the best one-ski quiver for the Western Chugach, and has allowed me to make the most of current conditions:
While snow coverage down low is weep-inducing (I’ve never seen Canyon Road this dry in eight January’s), the glass-half-full is that there is as good or better coverage in the upper elevations (above ~3000′) than this time last year. Considering the meltdown appears to be over, the brief melt-freeze cycle and now below freezing temperatures have stabilized the snowpack. The avalanche danger is expected to be low-moderate until the next significant weather event. In this case, wind won’t be much of a concern due to very little loose snow available for transport. New snow or above freezing temperatures/rain (God forbid), will cause the danger to rise.