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NWAC Avalanche
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|-+  2003 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  December 2003 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  December 13, 2003, Paradise
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Author Topic: December 13, 2003, Paradise  (Read 2128 times)

Posts: 16

December 13, 2003, Paradise
« on: 12/14/03, 01:54 PM »

After a lower back injury last season, this was my first day on the boards in a year.  How was it?  Well, I'm doing the happy dance!  Grin  

Roger, Ken, Don, Marilyn, Bob, Tom and I opted for Paradise since the forecast called for rising snow levels.  We'd considered Cement Basin but, with the weather and avy forecasts, headed for Rainier.  Couldn't see any rising levels, it was windy and snowy all day.

Did our first run on what we call "Favorite Run", the slopes above the Paradise Valley road hair pin.  Lots of new and too deep in spots.  Most of us got caught and tripped up in the deep and soft spots.

Then skinned up and over Mazama Ridge to the back bowl.  Nice conditions here with maybe 12 to 14 inches of new over a solid base. Nice turns for all.

But when Don and Bob decided to drop into the chute off the knoll to skier's right of the bowl.....

Don got first's with Bob spotting.  I was nearly at the end of my run down the middle of the normal slope.  All of a sudden I heard lots of yelling and the word "Avalanche!"  That made me stop in a hurry and assess the situation!  

Don triggered a soft slab about 50 feet wide that ran nearly to the bottom of the bowl!  I think we've all seen the debris on this path in the past!  The steeper slopes on and under the knoll get wind-loaded pretty regularly with typical west or southwest winds and release often.  I think this slide ran on the foot or so of new over the firm base we enjoyed skiing on.  Fortunately he stayed on top and took a ride of about 150 feet or so with no injuries.  His lost poles were easily found in the top few inches.  It was fortunate the run-out was low angle.

A sobering experience to say the least!

Outside of this eye-opener a good day was had by all!  My back felt pretty good. I had no biffs, headers or acrobatics.  Very few people out.  A couple large groups of 'shoers but we only saw 2 other skiers all day long.

It was great being out in the mountains after a 12 month hiatus!  Grin

Posts: 260

Re: December 13, 2003, Paradise
« Reply #1 on: 12/15/03, 04:02 AM »

I'm glad to hear Don T. made it out safe.  I'm equaly glad that you were spaced out so as to have only one avy poodle at risk at a time.

I ended up taking my party up to Lanham Lk by Stevens Pass on Sat, and Sun we skate-skied at Leavenworth.  Our orriginal summit plans will just have to wait for the snow to consolidate.

Posts: 1383

Re: December 13, 2003, Paradise
« Reply #2 on: 12/16/03, 02:39 PM »

Tim can you give us the aspect of the slide that Don got to ride on. From your description it sounds like Ne  facing just to the right of the easy runs in middle to the east. Glad that Don was unhurt and that you are back skiing!

"I bought my rope at Walmart ,my gloves at costco but paid dearly for my dynafits"
Apparant Moderator of what sucks

Posts: 16

Re: December 13, 2003, Paradise
« Reply #3 on: 12/17/03, 12:16 PM »

Yeah Robie, you got it right.  It's a nearly east facing aspect.  I'm sure you've skied that chute before.  From the top of the bowl, standing right in the middle, you just traverse to skier's right and up a small bump to access the top of this short chute.  Bob said he heard it release before Don even started to tumble and he thinks he about ruptured his vocal chords by shouting so loudly.  Although we didn't go back over to look at the crown, I'm sure it was the new snow that released on the stiffer layer down about 12 to 14 inches.  The NWAC forecast did predict the formation of soft slabs on steeper E to N slopes.  
ron j
TAY Moderator

Posts: 2594

Re: December 13, 2003, Paradise
« Reply #4 on: 12/22/03, 01:55 AM »

It's good to hear that you're finally getting out, Tim.
I could tell how antsy you were last year from your posts.
I'm glad no one got hurt on your first trip out.

"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
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