Saturday, July 29, 2017

Inter Glacier

This unusually long stint of beautiful hot sunny weather is melting the snow on the glacier fast. When you get near bottom of the snow line be sure to try and minimize your impact by not hiking on the alpine meadows that are starting to melt out. You can still stay on the snow all the way to the social trail, or you can rock hop your way over to it. Also, beware as you walk where the snow is thin at the bottom, it is easy to punch through and twist an ankle in the rocks just beneath the surface. 

For those of you looking to ski, come in with very low expectations or just don't bring your skis/board at all. There is a fine coating of dirt covering the whole glacier that will clean the wax right off your bases and large sun cups forming near the top half to make the skiing less than fun. But if you are just looking for those 5-10 turns to tell folks you skied July and August, it is possible.

On that note though skiers, hikers, climbers, and glissaders should take care traveling the Inter Glacier. While it is not high on the mountain and as big as the glaciers up above, there are crevasses you don't want to fall into. Some of which are hard to see from above because they are below roll overs. Guided groups travel the glacier roped up and if you are not very experienced with glacier travel, you should consider the same for yourself.  Some of the boot tracks and glissade tracks go right next to large crevasses, right on thin bridges. So don't blindly follow the boot tracks or fly down the glissade trenches. And ALWAYS stay in CONTROL when you are glissading. I recommend just not butt-glissading at least the upper half of the glacier. It's hard to see what's coming up. 

Glissade trench going right over a thin bridge above a large crevasse

As the snow melts out too, take caution as you approach some of the large rock outcroppings in the glacier. It is not uncommon for large moats to form around the rocks from the heat they radiate back at the snow. It would not be good to fall into one.

On the brighter note though. It is really nice conditions right now for hiking up and down hill. Firm in the early morning, easy to kick steps in the softening snow by late morning, and generally by late morning/early afternoon it soft enough to be gentle on the knees on the way down without post holing through. For those of you into boot-glissading it can't get much better.