Ball Butte

December 29, 2002

So I was outside fumbling with the sled and other gear and thinking I was kind of glad that Allen was a little late. Go back inside, message light on cell flashing, listen to message. Doohh! I was supposed to pick HIM up.

We arrive at Dutchman Sno-park about 45 minutes late. My foul up put us in the middle of the Cannonball Run like scramble to the mountain. Lucky for us everyone is riding lifts. So we 'bile out to the base of Moon Mtn. in about 20 minutes with a few follies along the way. My McGyver certified ski carrier was not doing so great and then there was the rollover with gas spewing out of the gas cap all over me. But we made it and within 30 minutes of leaving the trailhead we were skinning. Normally that would take over an hour and a half to make the trek.

Allen skinning up southeast ridge of Ball Butte with fairly typical Oregon visibility above tree line.

Allen just above our first drop into the bowl. Southeast ridge of Broken Top is behind and to the left with Ball summit to the right.

This is a horrible photo but it does show the sweet and deep. This was probably the lightest snow of the day but unfortunately only a short pitch.

We then skinned up the opposite ridge to the summit, getting hammered by strong winds all the way. We planned to drop in just to skier's left of the summit pinnacle seen in the previous photos. We cut the slope once as we dropped down to get out of the wind and I cut it again after dropping the skins. I made one turn, did a hipcheck then just after the next turn the slope cracked and slid from under me. There was a wind slab about 1 and 1/2 feet thick that only went about 20-30 feet downslope. It propagated about 20 feet in front of me and maybe 10 feet back up the slope and 30 feet behind. There was not a lot of volume and it did not incorporate other layers.

The slide went for about 300 vertical and was pretty inconsequential but snuck up on us nonetheless. I feel we were very safe in being where we were and this was just a small pocket of wind load. It is a learning experience everytime and this definitely goes into the bank of knowledge.

Allen standing above the fracture.

Fracture seen looking downslope.

Avy debris.

Allen in the goods.


After skiing this the visiblity got even worse so we did a little exploring around the area and some braille skiing. One more lap in a sweet bowl just below us then out to the transport. A quick out to the trailhead and we were done. All in all about 3k of climbing and the same descent. A pretty good day!

Even with the guilt of burning gas and oil to do it, it is pretty nice to lose the crowds and enjoy the solace of a day in the backcountry. I guess I will have to resolve my fossil fuel demons in some other way, because I'm hooked.

Jon Carney