| Mt Yale- Denny creek
Mt Yale - Denny Creek or how I learned to stop worrying and love the TG.
Two cups of espresso and I was sufficiently motivated to do something, anything. I just didn't know what. On the way home from work, at 7am I phoned a friend and asked if they knew where the closure on cottonwood pass was. They told me I could get to the Denny creek parking lot. I threw my stuff in the pack, grabbed the dog that I am "borrowing," loaded the car and hit the road.
I left the parking lot at 8:54, my standard alpine start. The trail was packed fairly well and I hit the trail intersection after about 40 minutes. The snow along the way was, how shall I put this? Shit. In the trail it was fine; everything else below tree line is a 3 foot pile of TG with 3-4 layers of crust in the top foot with a 2" sun crust topper. I wondered how I was going to ski down it but I figured I would deal with that when the time came. Right below tree line I encountered another party and we traveled together for a bit.
*If you climb Mt Yale from Denny Creek in the current conditions do not take the usual summer route. Continue past the past the usual place where one leaves the valley and go further up the valley eventually contour NE to an angling rib that leads above tree line. The route is not what I would call entirely "safe" on this rib above tree line as you traverse below some terrain that if loaded could be problematic, but it seems reasonable in terms of risk, (i.e. low) and the current snow conditions.
Above tree line the snow was a mix of sastrugi and hard and soft wind slab. I intersected the standard summer route some where near 12,000 feet. The summer route is fairly low angle as it goes up the shoulder of Yale. In order to gain the summit ridge of yale there is a head wall of sorts. It did not appear to be heavily loaded as rocks were readily visible on the lower sections.
However- There is a 10 foot high convexity with a pitch of 33-34 degree and some wind slab. The couple that I ran into wisely deliberated at the bottom of this. I, being a total dumbass said "it didn't look too bad". The consequences would not (probably) be fatal if it broke as you would just wash out in the scree – think road rash, not full burial. The couple (sorry- didn't get your names) wisely chose an alternate route. Above that the slope rolled over to about 25 degrees for 100 yds and then back to the talus. On hindsight I would not recommend going this way. I would do what the couple did and ascend the summit cone to the East.
Soon enough I was on the ridge and a short walk, with just a couple of post hole events, brought me to the summit.
harvard and columbia
From the summit I could see a group of 4 coming up the N side of Yale. Hopefully they will post a TR, looked like a better route.
they're small but they're there...
There was some atmospheric instability and a snow shower danced around the peaks by Taylor reservoir. I slammed a red bull and put my pack on. I really didn't want to go back down the potentially unstable slope; I descended down the summit cone of Yale, in a SW direction. The snow on here was actually very good for plunge stepping. There was not enough to ski, and if there was I wouldn't be there right now. There are some larger snow fields on this aspect but I avoided them staying in the screen and wind scoured gullies.
Once on the lower angle shoulder I put on my skis. A mixture of breakable crust and sastrugi kept me on my toes for the next 1000 feet, with some hidden rocks mixed in for good measure.
Below tree line the snow was a mixture of TG, wet TG, crust, breakable crust, and wet snow. I need to find an extreme low angle breakable crust skiing camp. My two options appeared to be making jump turns on 10 degree slopes of or snowplowing. I did a lot of snow plowing.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):