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Sometimes dreams come true, just not this time

04/03/2019 6:46 PM | Deleted user

Ski Dreams is a couloir tucked in the Sawtooth Range almost next to Matterhorn Peak. In addition there are several options in the vicinity that combined with the long approach (5-6 miles) make for a nice multi-day trip. As the trip planning evolved, a storm popped in the forecast. After monitoring it the expectation was for very light snow, cold temperatures and mild winds. Given prior experience with the local weather it was best to prepare for worse conditions. The plan was on day 1 to hike in, setup camp and scout the area; on day 2 attempt Ski Dreams and scout other objectives (e.g. the Doodad); on day 3 attempt final objective and ski back to trailhead.

On the approach it was a beautiful day, only made better due to the awesome snow coverage. Throughout the day winds started to pick up and around midnight snow started to fall. The forecast predicted 1-2" of snow at camp elevation (9.8k ft) but on the morning of day 2 it seemed that 5-6" fell overnight. Strong winds and light snow continued throughout the day.

The group did a short tour on low angle slopes to assess snow stability and confirmed there were at least 6" of fresh, cohesive, and non-reactive snow over the older hard pack. This combined with poor visibility (~100 yards) made the group head to camp after enjoying a couple of laps. Hunkering down is not the most fun thing to do but in this case it was the safe decision. As the storm moved through the winds hit ~40 mph with ~60 mph gusts; enough to knock one over. Thankfully our camp was sheltered and secure.

Overnight the winds and snow died down but the extra energy created dangerous wind slabs. After a good discussion the team didn't feel confident that the conditions were safe for a ski dreams push. We decided in spite of the beautiful blue bird day and fresh pow to pack camp and ski to the car. For some in the group this is the 3rd Ski Dreams attempt. But as they say, the mountain will always be there. On the plus side the ski out was wonderful and with the great coverage it was possible to ski all the way to the car without skinning. 

As the team headed out, there were a couple of parties heading for the couloir. Later at home we read that one of the parties triggered an avalanche, thankfully without casualties. I think we made the right call.

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