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2008 Backcountry Trip Reports => January 2008 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: altasnob on 01/12/08, 08:01 PM



Title: January 12, 2008, across the hwy from Stevens Pass
Post by: altasnob on 01/12/08, 08:01 PM
Do people call this area Heather Ridge?

Anyway, skied off the backside and then one run down to the highway from the radio tower. Lots of folks out and about, including several commercial avy classes. We dug a pit found a distinct crust about 30 inches down.

Here's a photo showing where the snow pack sheared:
(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2095/2188672722_967bacb6bf.jpg)

Below the weak layer, the snowpack seemed to be bomber. We skied a 35 degree slope without incident. Despite reports of the heaviest mank the Cascades can deliver, I found the snow to be very enjoyable (but my skis do have a 138 mm waist).

We even found a little sun, forshadowing the great day that should be in store for tomorrow:
(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2179/2188688866_5087cfba5e.jpg?v=0)

On our last run down, my friend, who is a splitboarder, fell into a treewell. Face first, with his board in the air and his head to the ground. Even though I stopped about 10 feet from where he fell, I had no idea where he went. After a few minutes I started hearing his muffled yell above me, but the snow was so thick it was slow going to get up to him. By the time I got to him, he was able to take off his pack, unbuckle from his board, and get air. He was allright, but shaken up a bit.

As they always tell you at Baker, be careful of those tree wells:
(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2096/2187888935_3dd12c1a28.jpg?v=0)


Title: Re: January 12, 2008, across the hwy from Stevens
Post by: danengel on 01/12/08, 08:29 PM
Wow, glad to hear that your friend was okay. Those tree wells are certainly nasty beasts. Thanks for the tr.


Title: Re: January 12, 2008, across the hwy from Stevens
Post by: savegondor on 01/12/08, 08:47 PM
nasty tree well.  scary! 


Title: Re: January 12, 2008, across the hwy from Stevens
Post by: jcocci on 01/12/08, 09:29 PM
Damn, glad your friend is OK. Looked like a decent day of there.


Title: Re: January 12, 2008, across the hwy from Stevens
Post by: greenrider on 01/13/08, 05:00 AM
You don't mention whether you and your friend were or weren't using beacons, but since it sounds like you had a bit of difficulty locating your friend I thought I'd ask.

Of course, if you weren't you might consider getting one.


Title: Re: January 12, 2008, across the hwy from Stevens Pass
Post by: altasnob on 01/13/08, 07:36 AM
I was using a beacon. In retrospect, I should have turned it to search right away. However, this particular friend has a tendency to take off in his own direction so when I didn't see him behind me, my first reaction was that he had gone right and when I went left. We were about 50 ft from the PTC, which is where we begin the skin back to the car. We both had been here numerous times and knew the route so I honestly thought he had just found his own way through the trees and was putting his skins on below. The first instance I realized he was in trouble was when I heard his yell. The funny thing is the yell sounded like it was from 40 ft away when it was really just 10 feet away. My plan was to retrace my tracks to see where he had diverged. I have two-way radios that I now plan to use on a regular basis in the backcountry. I always thought the big old growth suckers were the most dangerous tree wells but this was just a collection of small christmas trees. A soft spot had developed in the middle of the cluster. My friend hooked his tip on a branch under the snow and fell in. He didn't think of yelling when he was falling (which would have prompted my concern from the get go) because he thought he was going to be able to summersault through it.


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