Friday, January 29, 2021

East Fork, Tripyramid North Slide: 1/28/21

Confessions of a slide junkie: a return snowshoe journey to Avalanche Ravine and the East Fork of Tripyramid's North Slide, to see it and to partly ascend it in the depth of winter. 

Livermore Trail was in prime shape for XC skiing.

White Cascade was now almost 100% white.

Surprise blue sky over the Avalanche Camp clearing.

Avalanche Brook, where the Mount Triypyramid Trail crosses it en route to the North Slide.

At this point, the mood of my hike had soured. Some knucklehead apparently thought it was a good idea to bareboot the Tripyramid slides loop in two to three feet of snow. The divots and occasional postholes in the old snowshoe track on the Livermore Trail had been annoying; my snowshoes were smoothing them out somewhat. But on the much softer Tripyramid Trail he (a pretty good bet) left the trail as an ankle-twisting minefield of deep postholes. The trail to the South Slide had looked the same when I passed by it along the way. Maybe he was watching too many Everest movies: real mountaineers don't wear snowshoes! Grrr....sorry about the rant.

But the beauty of Avalanche Ravine soon cast its spell.

Even more so when I veered off trail into pristine winter backcountry.

Powder a'plenty!

The snowshoeing was slow and sweet.

The upper North Slide glimpsed through the trees.

Avalanche Brook in snowy disguise.

From the bottom, the snowy corridor of the East Fork beckons. How could a snowshoer resist?

It's steeper than it looks, though the lower part of this slide is relatively low angle compared to the upper part.

Looking back, with Scaur Ridge glimpsed across the valley.

The swath goes ever on.

One of three steeper gully-like sections that I bypassed through the woods, mindful of avalanche potential (in Avalanche Ravine!) with the heavy snow load. The snow seemed quite stable, but why take a chance.

Steep and deep in the conifers.

From a shelf, looking up at another steep pitch.

This pitch is partly closed in by Mountain Alder, a shrub that frequently grows in slide tracks.

Alder cones.

At 3250 ft., I reached the top of the lower open part of the East Fork, which has been substantially revegetated since the North Slide fell in 1885. A 1910 photo shows a huge gash on the mountainside here, separated from the main North Slide by a strip of trees..

Winter has claimed the mountains.

Side view. CalTopo shows the slope at about 31 degrees here.

The East Fork opens an excellent view of the Osceolas beyond Scaur Ridge, but the O's were socked in this day.

Scaur Peak peers over a spur ridge of North Tripyramid.

It had taken me nearly two hours to break trail up 450 ft. of elevation, but following my tracks I was back down to the base in 28 minutes.


A caress of late afternoon sun on the floor of the ravine.


Winter's blessings.

Glory shines on the old yellow birches.

Homeward bound on the Livermore Trail.


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