April 27th, 2013
44 kms (28 miles); 3 hrs 10 min.
For me this is a "Must Do" trip every year. I had been watching the conditions for a while and Saturday, April 27th, promised the right conditions and great weather. I started out at about 8:20 am. The temperature was around 28 F (-2 C) and the crust had set up nicely.
The first few miles up the Placer Valley were hampered by heavy snow machine traffic earlier in the year. But once I got past Skookum Creek, the conditions improved. The conditions up valley did not disappoint, and the farther I went, the better the crust got. Spencer Glacier was in great condition. I was able to ski 2 miles up the glacier. With a small detour I would have been able to gain the upper snowfield, but the time was getting late and I decided to turn around and get back to the car before the snow got too soft.
I got back at noon which was perfect timing because the crust was just beginning to break down. On the return, I stayed on the west side of the railroad tracks all the way down to Skookum Creek. The crust and snow conditions were better on the west side, and there were also fewer snow machine tracks to deal with on this side.
Once again the Placer Valley delivered a great crust ski opportunity.
One of these years, I will start early enough to gain the main snow/ice-field and look down onto the Blackstone Glacier and Blackstone Bay.
8 am start from the Portage Hwy. Still plenty of snow.
"No snow machine" signs don't seem to deter the snow machiners.
Looking down the Placer Valley with Blueberry Hill and Kinnikinnick Mnt in the center background.
Spencer Glacier. The mountains in the background are unnamed. They reach about 5200 ft elevation. The snowfield in the mid-distance is at 1500-2500 ft. My turnaround point was just short of the far "ice-fall" at 1500 ft.
Lots of ice-blue lakes on the glacier
Crust-skiable glacier - not your everyday occurrence! Coming back down, the crust surface was just starting to melt, allowing me to carve S-turns down the glacier ridges.
At the turn-around point.
Spencer Glacier terminus.
East to South panorama of the Spencer Glacier and surrounding (unnamed) mountains.