Type: Backcountry or Sidecountry
The Y Chutes are a series of steep and fast-running avalanche paths dropping nearly 1,500 vertical feet from treeline down into a significant natural terrain trap in the West Fork of Gavilan Creek—there are no "islands of safety" or exit routes once you drop in to any of these chutes. Safely riding these lines requires intimate knowledge of the snowpack, ability to continuously assess and evaluate conditions, and willingness take and balance the always-present risks with the adventurous experience of riding these harrowing lines.
Access to the ridge above these chutes is tricky with no established route—the easiest is to skin up the Gavilan Trail #60
to the ridge, and make the climb to the summit of the unnamed peak 11,849' as Y4 is directly below this peak.
When temps are cold and powder is abundant, these chutes can provide a thrilling descent, but when avalanche conditions exist or if there is any reason to believe it's not entirely safe, they should be avoided without question. When these chutes slide, they run fast and deposit deep debris into the creek at the bottom—there is little chance of escape should you be caught in a slide here.
Need to Know
Complex, Class 2 avalanche terrain.
Y4 starts just south of the unnamed peak 11,849'. This line is tighter with more trees than the other Y Chutes, and is the most technical to navigate. From the high point, ride down the ridge a short ways and drop over what looks like the edge of the world, onto a southeast aspect with narrow openings through the trees. The slope opens up as you approach the middle of the chute, then the walls steepen as you're funneled into the main run of the slide path. Small trees make for an interesting ride as you have to make some turns around them across varying fall lines, then the line opens up onto a natural half pipe for a few turns.
As you approach the bottom of the chute, the terrain changes again, and the path naturally turns to the right into a gully that contours towards the bottom of Y3
. This gully is a potential terrain trap and, depending on snow conditions, might require hiking or sidestepping some short uphill steps that can be tricky for snowboarders and easier for skiers to navigate.
An alternate exit can be taken where the chute flows into this gully as you can pop up and over a small hill and work your way to skier's left through some tight aspens and mixed conifers, and traverse down across the forested slope to just below where the Gavilan Trail #60
enters the bottom of a meadow. If you take this alternate route, it is like bushwacking but avoids the terrain trap at the bottom of the proper Y4 path. Be careful not to drop down too soon if you follow the natural fall line as it leads to some steep, open, eroded slopes above the creek—check out the aerial image maps to see where these are.
Shared By: J. Bella