North Sister, Thayer headwall

Observation Date/Time:
Wed, Mar 2, 2016 - 3:20 PM
Jim Wintermyre
Three Sisters Area
Report Type:
Snow Conditions  
Travel Mode:
Ski or Snowboard  

Written Report:
Spent Fri-Mon at the Tim Rim yurts and had just about every weather/snow condition. Overall though there was good snow to be had, especially on a snowboard (some of the skiers were not as happy with some of the heavier snow we found). Over those 4 days I was getting an idea of the overall snowpack in the area, and pretty much every day I had some great views of North Sister. I could see the Thayer headwall was well filled in, and there didn't seem to be any signs of avy activity, so yesterday I went out there to check it out.

Had to park 2 miles from the TH. Snow was super firm all the way to the bowl/crater at the bottom of the Thayer, in fact I had to use ski crampons at one point. There was evidence of wind hammering that area too. But on the apron below the chute, it changed to boot/knee deep packed pow. It was super consistent with no weird layers or anything. Kind of "styrofoamy" pow, a little wind-packed but not enough to cause a slab - basically hero riding snow. I used Verts and booted up the 2k chute to the saddle at the top of the Thayer headwall about 50 ft below the summit, and the snow was the same the entire way up. I kept thinking I was going to hit some weird snow at some point and have to bail, but it just never happened. It was breezy and overcast, which helped keep the snow from getting manky due to sun exposure, which was a good things as the forecast temps that day were pretty high. Also hardly any rock/ice fall. I think it is pretty rare to get conditions like that in there; it seems like every other time I've been there, there's been sun-baked unstable snow, huge runnels, rock bowling alleys, or all of the above. I just really lucked out. It took me a long time to get out there due to a later start and extra mileage to the TH, so I ended up dropping in around 3 PM, and it was still perfect for riding. One of the best runs of my life for sure. On the way out, everything that was frozen on the approach had softened to nice corn.

No signs of any avy activity anywhere around there. Had I gotten there earlier I would have done another run. I imagine the runs on the Villard/EMC side were equally good.

I suspect it might have been similar today since it looks like clouds were swirling around, maybe keeping the sun from doing too much damage. Of course this will all change by this weekend so this report is probably somewhat moot, but there you go.

Attached is a pic looking into the line from the top.