Some would say the ski season is over for the season, but skis are useful for more things than snow. Just like ice tools can be used on rock, skis work great in wet bogs, bridging the solid bits so you don’t plunge you feet in the soft squidgy holes and end up with a boot full of mud.
Mount Patterson is a trade off between how much you want to walk and how much you want to die in an avalanche. I tend to pick the former as I don’t really mind walking. The route follows a canyon with impossible to mitigate avalanche hazard down low, and many steep, convex rolls up high. I think I would find even a sold mid-winter snow pack nerve wracking. However, with a late season snow pack and a really good freeze, conditions seemed great because most of the snow which threatened the canyon had melted away and the rest was very, very solid.
Total climbing: 1800 m
Total descent: -1787 m
Total time: 08:36:53
Phil and I drove out the night before and bivied in the ditch on an old road bed. We followed the Chic Scott route description with a few waypoints geo-referenced from google earth satellite imagery. We were skiing by 4:45 am and found the bushwhack pretty enjoyable as the woods were pretty open. We walked to the canyon and boot packed to the top before we put on our skis on, but after that, the coverage was excellent. The crust was hard the entire day and just softened up after 11:00 am. To be honest, I prefer bullet proof, but that is just me. We made it back to the bottom of the canyon by 11:30, if we were much later, the crust would have broken down making our bog travels that much more difficult.
On the way home, we followed the protected south edge of the swamp which had just enough snow to ski, with the odd bit of bog skiing.
An all around excellent day.
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