Analysing terrain data
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The exposure grade does not take into account objective hazards (stone fall, seracs, etc) but only the consequences of the skier falling.
Low Exposure (E1): Exposure is limited to that of the slope itself. Getting hurt is still likely if the slope is steep and/or the snow is hard.
Medium Exposure (E2): As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.
High Exposure (E3): In case of a fall, death is highly likely.
Extreme Exposure (E4): In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.
If you’re looking for a backcountry powder stash near Crested Butte this is it! The approach is a bit long but a variety of wide open ski slopes make it worth the hike.
Powder is plentiful on these northeast facing slopes and there are large sections void of trees so the skiing is wide open.
Make sure you have avalanche gear and experience with terrain management as this is avalanche terrain in the heart of the sketchy continental snowpack.
The route starts from the Washington Gulch trailhead and follows the road used by snowmobiles.
The skin track breaks away from this road and crosses a stream after about a half of a mile.
Meander alongside the stream for another mile until the trees start to open up and you get your first views of the open slopes you will be skiing.
Climb up to the ridge through the trees instead of the open slopes to mitigate avalanche hazards.
The climb through the trees is steep and you will switchback often to gain the ridge.
Once you top out of the trees, head north along the ridge and pick one of many lines down the open slopes.
On a clear day, the views from the ridge are outstanding making this a great place to stop for a snack or some lunch.
You might even find a snow shelter if you need to escape the wind.
Once you’ve skied down the majority of the open slope, pop back into the tress and meet up with your skin track to make laps.
The slopes are more mellow the further north you head so if avalanche danger is high heading further north can mitigate risks.