Crow Pass area:
Obvious signs of instability (red flags):
- Recent, natural wet loose avalanches on solar aspects (south to west) initiating from steep, rocky terrain
- Rime ice showering down steep southerly chutes on Magpie from diurnal warming
- Sunny skies, calm wind, alpine temps in the teens
- Variable wind and sun affected snow in most areas.
Generally low danger survey day covering a lot of ground. Main concerns when new snow arrives are sun crusts and areas with thin layer of heavily faceted snow on hard wind slab.
We climbed Magpie via the south glacier bowl and chutes, and descended the north face (couloir). The steep south facing chutes above the glacier are walled with rime covered rock that started showering ice chunks before 10am, and these chutes were generally sun affected with icy and firm (but fast) climbing. The last ~100′ to top out the summit ridge is very sketchy (extremely icy, chossy, and with little to no protection) fifth class. It is possible to set up a knifeblade anchor at the base, but the belayer is exposed to falling rocks and ice/snow. Snow or rock (pitons – we used angles) anchors can be set up on the ridge to bring up the follower. Beware of explosive choss; select cracks and equalize accordingly. The north face couloir of Magpie is ~1800′ feet of continuously steep (most of it 50*+ and measured up to 58* in places). The runout is not clean and at least half of the route is very exposed. Crevasse, bergschrund, and moat danger exists; especially on the north side of Magpie.