Western Mass-Pioneer Valley
Submitted By: Dobish on April 29, 2010
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As you drop off of the summit, you are on a large convex slope that is about 38°. This face is almost due East, so it tends to get sun pretty early. In the late spring, this slope can easily be corn by 9:30am at the top, so plan to be up there early. There are very few hazards on the top section, as there are no rocks or trees that are really poking through.
Depending on the size of the group, and your time frame, a lot of people will go back up and do multiple laps on the East Face from above the headwall, as this is where the most open terrain is. Once you get to the headwall, you need to keep a vigilant eye for the convexities and the sliding snow. These slopes measure at close to 45° and have been getting sun from the very first light. The tend to slide regularly, but as the snow gets heavier, they could probably do some damage. There are a few descent options to pick, that all wrap around the lake and back to the main gully.
There used to be an old mining cabin, that you can still see the remanants of just above the upper lake.
After the lakes, if you are done for the day, you should head to the right, so you can avoid the willows and connect back up with teh Crystal Lakes Road. You can take the road all the way back down to the trailhead if there is snow.[more]
The Pioneer Valley makes up the valley and hill region around the Connecticut River, between Worcester county and the Berkshires. The pioneer valley is often considered to be the drainage of the Connecticut River and the drainages of the following rivers: The Westfield, Swift, Chicopee, Deerfield, and Millers.
Because of the snowfall totals and the weather patterns, the good skiing is generally in mid winter (january, february) but can be pretty fun in february and march. Elevation gain for backcountry skiing in the pioneer valley is between 1000 and 1500 ft.
How to Get There
The Pioneer Valley is located in western mass, near the Connecticut River and the surrounding drainages. Amherst, North Hampton, and Greenfield are the closest towns to where the backcountry adventures are in the Pioneer Valley.