10.11.14 Mt. Parnassus

It's imposing north face is hard to ignore if you're a skier. It's visible from one spot along the road to Jones and Butler. The 13,600' peak's scoured summit is flanked by a series of gullies and couloirs. Prevailing west and northwest winds load these gullies with thick wind-packed snow. The last time I skied this face was in May of 1012. That season we experienced one of the worst winters in 20 years.

 These north facing gullies held just enough snow.

These north facing gullies held just enough snow.

In the week leading up to the 11th the area had received an inch of liquid precipitation and the woods were unusually wet and lush. Once I was above treeline, the moisture took on a more frozen form. A quick climb up the tundra and I was at the top of the ridge. After making a few turns in a smaller gully to the west to get a feel for the snow, I descended the larger line closer to the summit. I was able to make careful, continuous turns for about 700 feet. The snow varied from creamy windpack to breakable crust ending in a narrow rocky drift of slushy corn snow.

 Nice snow at 13000'

Nice snow at 13000'

There's something calming about skiing this time of year. The weather is rather benign, and predictable, absent from lightning laden thunderstorms that seem to appear from nowhere. As for the snow, it is made up of one or two, again, predictable layers. You know where the rocks are. They're everywhere, and one should ski as if you will hit one on every turn. It's usually warm enough to wear a t-shirt on the way up and not too hot to wear your jacket on the way down.

 My first run of the day.

My first run of the day.