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| | |-+  February 14, 2004, Mt. Baker Backcountry
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Author Topic: February 14, 2004, Mt. Baker Backcountry  (Read 1972 times)
markharf
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February 14, 2004, Mt. Baker Backcountry
« on: 02/15/04, 06:42 AM »

A quick, half-day solo tour squeezed between one thing and another.  I skied mostly east and north aspects between 4200 and 5400 feet, finding 3-6 inches of fresh over a supportable melt-freeze crust in most areas.  Surprisingly, northeast through northwest slopes are still powdery, with the same dense, dry, stable pack we skied last weekend prevailing under the new snow.  Above about 4500 feet, this translated into very good skiing, with moderate face shots and plenty of untracked snow.  Below, the skiing was still good but the fresh snow was a bit damp.  Visibility in the alpine was meager at best.

I'll be trying for another half-day tomorrow morning, retreating in the face of afternoon warming and avalanches.  Today's quote: "Get it while you can." (Janis, 1970).  

Enjoy,

Mark
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markharf
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Re: February 14, 2004, Mt. Baker Backcountry
« Reply #1 on: 02/16/04, 01:27 PM »

This brief update dedicated to famed backcountry aficionados George and Abraham:

Not bad up there today, with moderate snow (an inch per hour), increasing winds, inadequate visibility and temps hovering around freezing.  I stayed clear of steep terrain, but the snowpack seemed less unstable than the weather forecast (high winds, heavy snow, rapid warming) led me to expect.  On the other hand, YMMV.

Uncharacteristically, I used waxless skis and three pin bindings, adding a bit of challenge to the foot and a half of damp, slabby recent snow.  My verdict: this is a very good way to make telemark skiing even less efficient than it otherwise might be.  On steep uphills skins are still necessary (although the truely masochistic can make do without), and deeper ski penetration while breaking trail eliminates any weight advantage.  Downhills went fine, but I was subject to distinctly fewer whoops and hollers.  On the flats and green groomers, the patterned bases came into their own...but how much time do I really want to spend on green groomers?  These skis have their place, but they won't be taking up much space in my life until spring consolidation.  

Enjoy,

Mark



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curmudgeon
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Re: February 14, 2004, Mt. Baker Backcountry
« Reply #2 on: 02/17/04, 09:00 AM »

It was an interesting day to study slab formation.  we did lines all day on the BB chutes, all lines having the same aspect and exposed to similar wind loading.

In the morning, stability was superb.  The wind was visibly transporting snow into the chutes, but we decided that the wind must have recently come up because the amount transported was not significant.

As the day wore on, the new snow and wind deposits continued to accumulate. The major accumulation was near the top, not at the roll-over half way down where slabs usually form.

Each subsequent run showed increased slab potential.  On our second run, turns near the top were breaking little dish-sized hunks of soft slab.  By noon the pieces of slab broken off by our turns were the size of garbage can lids, but without propegation.

At about 2 pm we did a run from the viewers right of the trees which form the right border or Marthas ladder. By now the slabs were about 8" deep, well formed and propegating. Time to go home.
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