Splitboarding in the Crystal Mountain Backcountry
March 07, 2016
We made it out to Bullion Basin for what possibly could have been a very wet afternoon. We had received some snow the week prior, but it warmed and rained on Saturday.
We arrived to the trailhead parking lot around 8:30 am. Stumbling out of his car, we saw Kyle Miller and his buddy stumble out of their camper van only to confirm the rainfall they had seen Saturday. The freezing level had risen to nearly 6,000 ft. on Saturday and saw quite a bit of rain. After conversing with Kyle for a bit, he showed us the sweet K2 Aspect boot coming out next year. The boot looks dope. Kyle put them through the ringer this past year (150 days on 'em) and they still seemed to be doing well.
We then began up the trailhead traveling on switchbacks through the forest. The trail clearly had seen a bit of rain over the past couple days and was icy in spots. One area required a short boot up a steeper pitch. The weather was all over the place on Sunday. In the time we spent traveling up the switchbacks up to the basin, we saw heavy overcast with low visibility, followed by snowfall and sunny skies.
As we started to climb out of the basin up to Bullion Peak the sun broke again giving us clear views of the loose wet pinwheels that had moved prior to our arrival. This was the only sign of avalanche activity we had witnessed throughout the day.
After reaching the Bullion Peak we decided to ride the same stuff we were looking at on the tour up. This would get us some great turns we could clearly see and allow us to see how the snowpack felt while riding. After taking a short lap down from the peak it was clear a rain crust had formed on all aspects below 6,000 feet. This kept us making shorter runs, keeping to the upper elevation.
We headed our way back up and took a lap down Union Creek. Once again, on the tour up we saw just about every type of weather the day had to offer. Overcast, high winds, snowfall and bright sunshine. The turns down Union Creek were great until again, rain crust at about 6,000 feet. The new rain seems to have stabilized recent storm snow, but doesn't make for the turns we all love.
All in all it was a great day for some exercise and fun in the mountains with friends.
It's also worth mentioning, David and I both were dealing with issues on our Karakoram Flip-Speed Risers all day long (not the first time). We both love the new design of these over the old and think they're easy to switch between different climbing modes, but we've had nothing but reliability issues with them while climbing. Mine actually broke in half this tour. David's replacement pair (2nd he's owned) kept failing him as well. Flipping down to flat while they should still be in climb mode. Hopefully the crew at Karakoram will shed some light on this and we will get something on the blog if they do.