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2023-03-17 at 21:01 - comment by MaSid
Thanks Henry. The meadows are calling though. No need to do the full traverse to get the goods. Check them out.
2023-03-17 at 11:06 - comment by HenryL
MaSid, I enjoyed your report of what was a glorious trip in super weather.
Wonderful photo towards great divide.
2023-03-16 at 22:34 - comment by MaSid
Probably crusty in the morning on the south facing descent. Use west elk pass and avoid some of it, up and down. There was at least some travel under the hydroline today, but not a lot. It’s a bit of a boiler coming back up the hill in the afternoon sun this time of year. Almost time for sun hats if no wind. Go early. It was draining me this aft in the initial flats of west elk, so was happy for the north winds in the larger meadow.
2023-03-16 at 22:11 - comment by ulrikeski
Wow, what an awesome trip report and photos! Will be skiing to Elk Lakes tomorrow with LT gear, so hoping for still dry snow and not too much sun crust.
East Elk to West Elk Pass traverse
Report Submitted by MaSid
(trip) Date: Thursday Mar 16, 2023
Submitted: Thursday Mar 16, 2023 at 18:47
Are you keen to venture beyond the grooming and explore the best meadows of the Elk Pass area and two snowfas in glorious sunshine this weekend? Now you can, with a freshly set track through the Patterson meadows, into East Elk Pass, up and over the intervening ridge, down through the easiest cut block route, through the West Elk Pass meadows and back to the grooming at blueberry junction. But you gotta be prepared, and have the right mustard. Today I used AT gear, not knowing if current snow conditions allowed for safe descending on LT gear in the cut blocks. Previously (last trip Jan 21) the snow pack in the cut block descent was barely supportive enough for AT skis.
Patterson meadows: Good travel on a barely visible old track, ankle ski pens. Good for all manner of skis, although big baskets would be handy but not critical.
East Elk: Sonny Bou and company’s track from Mar 4 was just visible in protected areas. Did some rerouting to follow the normal route in spots. Ankle to boot top ski pens. LT gear should work, along with big baskets. Should only take a few more bodies to make it OK for skinny skis. The Snowfa has been rejuvenated. Was able to use wax from the car all the way to the pass. No sign of the grizzly yet (he came through about this time last year).
Ridge ascent via the boundary cut line: With AT skis and skins the track goes straight up. Ankle to boot top ski pens. LT gear without skins would require some switch back trail breaking, but it’s only a couple hundred feet up.
Ridge top meadows: Excellent travel in open areas to both the viewpoint (south) and to the top of the newer cut block descent (north). Ankle ski pens.
Cut block descent: Can’t really be certain enough to recommend LT gear at the moment. Although with the intense sun of a few days, perhaps a nice surface crust will form. Then it’s just about timing. However, foot penetration was to the hips! Not easy digging out of that with skinny gear. Numerous settlements occurred throughout. Glad I chose the mellow safe descent instead of the steeper runs.
West Elk Pass meadows: Excellent travel on a barely visible track with ankle ski pens. A cool north wind picked up on return in the afternoon, helping to keep the snow cold. The fork ‘n meadow lunch log and the snowfa both got a rejuvenation.
-18 to start at 8 (good green wax grip uphill, slow glide), zero on return to the car at 4.
Now is the window for such trips given the excellent weather forecast and still reasonably dry snow, and a fresh track!
East Elk Pass, getting the big reveal
Excellent views at the viewpoint today, Mount Joffre (over 11,000 ft) and the Petain Glacier presiding.
Roger called it: maple glazed ham and cheese, with Keens Prepared Hot Mustard. No worries with spills.