Patagonia Backcountry Report: 18ºF & Windy as Hell | “The Labyrinth” Chutes in Silky Powder

Miles Clark | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

Labyrinth Chute #2 Video:

Report from August 11, 2023

Yesterday morning was an unknown.

It had snowed a heavy 6″ the previous day and it wasn’t clear exactly how much it had snowed overnight but it was clear that it had finally gotten cold.

Only the upper mountain zones had gotten snow the previous day.

Labyrinth Chute #1 Video:

The lower zones had gotten rain.

It also wasn’t clear what the sky was going to be doing but the forecast was for cloudy, overcast skies.

As I left the house before dawn, I saw a star…

Good sign.

Once the sun rose, it revealed patchy clouds and low fog.

Lines. image: snowbrains

The occasional patch of blue was encouraging.

We started skinning up.

By the time we got into the alpine, the sun was bathing everything in photons.

It was cold.

18ºF with a ripping wind.

Spines. image: snowbrains

It was so cold I wore my helmet, goggles, and all my clothes on the uphill as well as on the down.

The first run of the day was pure silk and on a north-facing slope (read sunny slope).

Normally when it’s this windy here, the snow is wind-pressed, punchy, and weird.

Yesterdays snow was light and fluffy (for here) for the most part.

I’d say there was about 12-18″ of new snow out there.

Flattop. image: snowbrains

On an early traverse, we did kick off a small avalanche that was 10″ deep, 30 feet wide, and it ran only about 30 feet.

It spooked us something good.

That small avalanche was on a high, wind-loaded, east-facing slope.

In our first chute of the day that we call “The Labyrinth” we were nervous about the avalanche conditions.

We understood that this zone wasn’t going to produce anything that could bury us, but even a small avalanche could push us into one of the many rocks in the zone.

Snowy morning commute. image: snowbrains

We performed tests and ski cuts and deemed the slope skiable.

It skied like a dream and not a crack to be found.

I was absolutely freaked out stoked at the bottom.

“Yeewww, yew, yew!”

All the tension melted off me.

Back up to ski the adjacent chute to “The Labyrinth”.

Wind. image: snowbrains

This one skied dreamily as well.

It was getting late at this point and we thought we’d save the other lines for the next day.

It’s always a helluva lot more fun when the day exceeds your expectations.

Thanks, Patagonia!

Apres tea. image: snowbrains

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