Continued from Part 6: Silverthrone and Summits Although the morning started nicely with clearing skies and sun, it didn't last long. As we neared a col we'd scouted the previous day, clouds socked back in. Water pooled down from the snow crusted rocks above as we crossed a sketchy slope above the Satsalla Valley. With all the recent rain, snow bridges covering crevasses were questionable and we tread lightly.
From the col we descended an even sketchier slope. Steep, crevassed and difficult to navigate. Tim led the way weaving his way down. Loose snow avalanches set off on steeper rolls below his ski tips. The top 20 cm of wet snow would entrain and fan out and we'd follow down the safe bed surface. From there we were back on flat glaciers where we continued on in whiteout conditions.
The snow with all it's saturation quickly globbed up our skis making travel much more strenuous. The snow stuck to the bases would add huge amounts of weight and friction (not to mention aggravating us).
We eventually set up camp somewhere above the Tumult Glacier. The next morning we moved past the head of the Tumult Glacier only to stop mid day before Shaman Peak. To continue past Shaman would take us towards Kliniklini Peak. Although all of us wanted to visit and summit Kliniklini Peak, few of us wanted to do it in less than ideal conditions due to the complicated terrain. The forecast was unsure and we waited for weather to disperse or give us a sign but in the end nothing improved well enough for us to move on and we spent the night there. The next morning, clouds still covered the sky so with difficulty we pulled the plug on Klinaklini Peak and headed down the Tumult Glacier.
The Tumult Glacier exit is one of the highlights of the trip. Descending from the glacier white world of accumulation zone into the blue world of the ablation zone is magical. The Tumult Glacier is tumultuous indeed. As it trends downhill it breaks up in large house sized chunks seemingly dangling together, connected by a spiderweb of snow bridges.
We descended along it's flanks, hugging snow aside from the glacier to avoid crevasses but soon there was no choice but to navigate the crevasses around a section of cliff.
From the base of the Tumult Glacier we skied a little longer and we were soon walking along boulder fields, crossing creeks and bushwacking alder sections. The going was slow at times when the boulders got big. It's difficult to move through car sized boulders with skis and a heavy pack. Occasionally snow patches had to be crossed, these patches would often hold but just as often randomly give out. Sometimes you'd sink to your knee and on a few occasions, you could fall in over your head as Nic Gobin had.
Artem with his avalanche beacon tan line. Photo Nick Matwyuk.
We set up camp along the flat sandy banks of Tumult Creek and sleep came quickly despite thoughts of grizzlies in the night. Tomorrow would be a big day that would take us all the way out to the Knight Inlet logging camp and following that, home...
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