Thursday, December 6, 2012

Palisade Peak - Icy crust - lots of open water

When my ski buddies called at O-dark 30 this morning for a lap up to Mt. Rose and higher elevations I should have picked up the phone. But with Diane going away for a few days and a long list of to-do's on the desk from yesterday I figured I'd stay in and be productive.  

Well, that ended the second I actually got up and saw this amazing sunrise through the mist - see today's earlier post.  Once back inside I could not seem to stay focused on anything and by 1:30pm I was absolutely bonkers - so , I changed clothes and headed out into the crusty bright and warm Donner Summit afternoon.  

First thing I noticed was the bombproof crust on the snowpack in the woods - this made for some fast moving from the start. Despite the many open leads of water cascading down from the peaks the going was pretty smooth - glad I have stiff boots and some metal edges.  I worked my way up to the summit of Palisade Peak and could not believe my luck with the glorious views to the south and east. The summit plateau was easy going and I skied back and forth across its length a few times because I thought I might have missed something.  That's where I took these photographs.  At one point an eagle or black colored hawk of some kind finally lifted off and flew right overhead, tired of my disruptions of his otherwise tranquil perch.

Ultimately, I had to turn around and go home, but I consider the day totally salvaged.

The snow on the northern aspects is a hard supportable crust, and southern slopes gives way to about an inch of corn on top of the same rock hard crust.  This should be a great base moving forward.  If you go, be prepared for several detours for small stream crossings.  One I made balanced on a narrow log that still had snow coverage.

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