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[TR] Heather Canyon - Timberline, across the White River Glacier 12/3/2006

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Trip: Heather Canyon - Timberline, across the White River Glacier


Date: 12/3/2006


Trip Report:

Since the washout of Highway 35, I have been fantasizing about skiing freshies at Meadows with no one else to compete for the lines. With the recent heavy snow, it seemed like a no-brainer to make this trip, if nothing else because it would be a fun romp across the White River Glacier and unique to ski Meadows with no one around.


First, I paid a quick visit to “Dave’s blog” to find out if any ski patrollers would be doing avalanche control and tossing charges into Heather canyon. Dave is the president of the area and we thought we might get some good beta from his blog. Dave gave us a very lawyerly response to when and where they are doing avy control: “YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR LIFE AT DANGER. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU NOT SKI IN THE MT. HOOD MEADOWS PERMIT AREA AT THIS TIME. WE ARE CONDUCTING AVALANCHE WORK IN MANY AREAS. PLEASE CHOOSE ANOTHER AREA TO BACKCOUNTRY SKI. THERE ARE MANY AREAS AROUND THIS MOUNTAIN OTHER THAN THE MT. HOOD MEADOWS PERMIT AREA!!! USE YOUR HEAD!!!” Understandably, Dave has other interests to protect, but we decided to proceed anyway. It is public land and we thought it would be fairly obvious to detect people with backpacks, in an otherwise deserted canyon, throwing charges that exploded.


Using our heads, we set off from Timberline at around 7 AM. The conditions were quite wind-blown, with lots of ice on south and west-facing snow. This didn’t bode well for freshies, but maybe Heather Canyon was in better shape.


There’s a nice slot into the west side of the White River Glacier at about 6,800 feet, and we crossed the glacier, working our way though the many moraines. The east-facing sides of the moraines were all firm snow, and the west-facing sides were all frozen scree. Skinning was out of the question, so we put on crampons and made slow but fairly easy progress across the glacier. After a bit longer than we expected, we arrived at the Meadows ski area and skinned up the cat track to the top of the Vista chairlift. From there, we traversed over to Heather Canyon for our possible freshies. Sadly, and expectedly, the conditions were wind-blown chalk. Our freshies were not to be today. Having come all this way, however, we skied it anyway. From the bottom of Heather Canyon, we skinned out and back up to the top of the Vista chair. After a little lunch, we headed back to the White River Glacier to cross and go home. The return crossing was significantly more strenuous, as the sun had melted the top 1 inch of the west-facing scree and the east-facing snow was sloppy and avalanche prone where steep. We wandered the glacier looking for lower angled routes through the moraines, and eventually came back out at the 6,800 foot level slot.


Overall- if you’re only interested in making turns, this trip wouldn’t be worth it for you. It took us about 7-1/2 hours from start to finish. If you want a mini adventure with a little skiing in it, it would be worth it, more so on a powder day. You’ve got about two more weeks before Highway 35 opens up.



Gear Notes:

Wear a helmet- the scree slopes were constantly raining rocks when we came back through at the end of the day.


Approach Notes:

The White River Glacier is easlily navigable right now above 6,800 feet.

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bummer on the freshies man! i was equally bummed to see the goods down here crustified... surface hoar in the trees makes the snow look so good, but the cust makes it so bad!


still though, looks like you guys had a fun tour. any pics?

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