Williams Lake Conditions?/ Advice

Moderators: mark, scotthsu, Bob, Matt

Williams Lake Conditions?/ Advice

Postby Norseski » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:06 pm

Hello. I'm new to the forum, but I've been watching this site for most of the season. I live up in Denver for the moment and I was wondering if anyone could give me updated snowpack conditions or advice for the Williams Lake area. Specifically, I'm planning to summit/ski Wheeler on Sat. (fingers crossed that the weekend storm holds off until Sat. evening). We will be digging a pit and I will update the forum with our findings for West facing slopes in that area.

Also, does anyone know if there are any relatively safe/safer approaches from the lake?

Thanks!
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Postby Matt » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:09 am

I can't comment on the snowpack since I'm sitting about 70 miles north of you - though I do believe the area recieved about 15" in the last 36 hours or so. If you are worried about route selection from the lake, and potentially sketchy snowpack, I would stick to the trees to the NE of the lake and stay in them as high as possible. There are a couple of nice benches where they break that sits between two paths that run on a fairly infrequent basis. Good place to evaluate the snowpack and your options. The nice thing for avy conditions on Wheeler is that you are on what is generally the windward side - but not the greatest for skiing. If the snow is accomodating I would recommend a ski down to the bowl between Wheeler and Old Mike, or down to Horseshoe Lake, then back over the ridge and down to Williams Lake.

Edited for proper compass direction
Last edited by Matt on Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Norseski » Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:46 pm

Thanks for the beta Matt. We will be choosing our route carefully with all the recent snow. Sounds like the route you are talking about would put us on the ridge between Wheeler and Lake Fork Peak. We'll check it out.
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Postby Matt » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:54 pm

Norseski wrote:Thanks for the beta Matt. We will be choosing our route carefully with all the recent snow. Sounds like the route you are talking about would put us on the ridge between Wheeler and Lake Fork Peak. We'll check it out.


Lake Fork is across the valley. I should have stated that the route goes up through the trees ot the NE of the lake. my apologies. I'm a little turned around.
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Re: Williams Lake Conditions?/ Advice

Postby scotthsu » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:19 pm

Norseski wrote:Also, does anyone know if there are any relatively safe/safer approaches from the lake?


The terrain on the west slopes of Wheeler has natural slide paths both to the NW and SW of Wheeler's summit. There is a rib of sorts due west of Wheeler which might be the least of all evils. Maybe you can see what I'm talking about in this photo, in which incidentally the lower part of the blue line shows what I think Matt is suggesting. That route does spend some time in a gully which can be a terrain trap if a slide happens above.

Be safe, and I look forward to hearing about your trip. In some seasons, the full Wheeler west face ski descent is never in due to it being on the windward side, so it'd be awesome if you got it!
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Re: Williams Lake Conditions?/ Advice

Postby Matt » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:45 am

scotthsu wrote:
Norseski wrote:Also, does anyone know if there are any relatively safe/safer approaches from the lake?


The terrain on the west slopes of Wheeler has natural slide paths both to the NW and SW of Wheeler's summit. There is a rib of sorts due west of Wheeler which might be the least of all evils. Maybe you can see what I'm talking about in this photo, in which incidentally the lower part of the blue line shows what I think Matt is suggesting. That route does spend some time in a gully which can be a terrain trap if a slide happens above.

Be safe, and I look forward to hearing about your trip. In some seasons, the full Wheeler west face ski descent is never in due to it being on the windward side, so it'd be awesome if you got it!


The blue route is close, but I suggested staying in the trees - out of the gully. There is a goo sized bench about where that blue route turns to lookers left that is good for strategizing your route continuation.
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Postby Norseski » Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:21 pm

Thanks guys. I was actually thinking about the ridge just to the lookers right of the red line on the photo for a possible ascent route on rock. Matt's suggestion looks good too. We'll have to asses when we get there, but I think we will be erring on the side of caution with the current snowpack. I look forward to posting our findings when I get back.
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Postby Matt » Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:54 pm

I've been up that ridge. If snow ceverage is good it is just a steep snow climb. If snow is lacking it's not much fun.
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another thing

Postby scotthsu » Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:43 pm

one more thing if you're not already aware, the williams lake trail passes through the run-out zones of several large avalanche paths in the first mile or so.
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Sin Nombre area

Postby cmcquade » Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:50 pm

A few of us hope to head to Williams lake area, maybe Sin Nombre. I have yet to be back in the cirque this season, has anyone profiled the snowpack near sin nombre or lake fork? Not sure if we will be there on sat or sun. Anyone else planning on being in the area?

chuck
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Postby Norseski » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:37 pm

So... We didn't dig a pit like expected. We stayed clear of the most treacherous terrain and I didn't ski much of Wheeler with the west ridge being mostly wind blown with very little snow. We did see a couple of skiers on Friday night that had dug a pit and found mostly stable conditions with the exception of a deeper weak layer (I can't remember the exact measurement and don't want to guess). I can report that we didn't see any evidence of recent activity on West facing slopes in the area and we didn't hear any "whoomfing" or see any cracks.

All in all, it was a success as my number one goal was to climb Wheeler. Maybe I'll be back some day to ski. The area is certainly beautiful and has a lot of great lines. Thanks to everyone that helped with information.
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7 Mar

Postby Kerry » Fri Mar 05, 2010 11:36 pm

A few of us are planning to meet at the Bavarian deck Sun morning around 8:30 for Sin Nombre & Lake Fork Pk. Join if you like.
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not a good day

Postby Kerry » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:28 am

Didn't like the conditions in the alpine regions. See snow report after NNMAE processes it.
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Re: not a good day

Postby Bob » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:24 am

Kerry wrote:Didn't like the conditions in the alpine regions. See snow report after NNMAE processes it.

Nice report, and it looks like some good decisions.
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Postby Kerry » Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:13 pm

Forgot to mention that the windward west aspects associated with Wheeler looked more stable from a distance than our Sin Nombre and Lk Fk Pk objectives, but we didn't explore. A lone skier recently skied the west S-shaped run from about 600' below Wheeler Pk. Wish we had headed that way instead of the opposite side of cirque.
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