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NWAC Avalanche
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| | |-+  March 20, 2004, Baker Ski Area backcountry
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Author Topic: March 20, 2004, Baker Ski Area backcountry  (Read 2785 times)

Posts: 1754

March 20, 2004, Baker Ski Area backcountry
« on: 03/20/04, 05:49 PM »

Just passing along a condition report for today, Charles (and maybe others) would like to know.  Come on lurkers who skied today, no need to share your secret stash, just how was the snow.

We found lots of wind affected snow, as well as afternoon thin crust on east slopes caused by early morning sun, good thin layer of creamed corn on heavy powder on south slopes when the sun was on them, nice 6" dense powder on North slopes sheltered from wind.   Conditions seemed to vary more than usual due to aspect, time of day, and degree of wind protection.

« Last Edit: 10/26/04, 04:30 PM by admin » Logged

Posts: 625

Re: March 20 Baker Ski Area backcountry
« Reply #1 on: 03/21/04, 05:21 PM »

I claimed my traditional position far to the rear on this trip, with others more energetic than myself far out front, heroically breaking trail up 45 degree powder slopes. †Under sb's guidance, we toured through spectacular terrain to one of the northerly bowls on Mt. Herman, then finished with a run on the north side of Table Mountain. †North aspects featured dense, very stable powder; southerly exposures got sloppy in the sun and tended to sluff on a layer within the recent (18") storm snow on 40+ degrees slopes. †Altogether, a good tour with good folks (Silas, Rob, Joe, Dave and Steve).

Edited to add: I learned today that a friend was avalanched nearby on Saturday as he dropped onto a north aspect at a fairly moderate pitch (35-40 degrees), and was carried over a small cliff and down a steep apron below.  He was the third skier on the slope, and suspects that the day warmed just enough to allow him to trigger what others had not.  No serious injury, but a major wakeup call for all concerned.  

FWIW, we skied a very similar slope on Saturday?same aspect and elevation with a steeper initial pitch but a more moderate exposure.  We also returned by the same route, climbing the same slope during the warmest part of the day.  This is food for thought.  
« Last Edit: 03/22/04, 01:51 PM by markharf » Logged

Posts: 628

Re: March 20 Baker Ski Area backcountry
« Reply #2 on: 03/22/04, 03:30 PM »

Glad your friend was ok.  Do you know if it was a slab, or wet sluff?

Posts: 625

Re: March 20 Baker Ski Area backcountry
« Reply #3 on: 03/22/04, 05:37 PM »

Phil, I gather a soft slab.  He is highly experienced, and he said he noticed no warning signs and did not feel at all at risk.  The fact that he was slid on a relatively moderate pitch just as he was about to drop onto a far steeper slope is interesting.

He also said he was tired of explaining to everyone, so I tried not to press too hard for every last detail.  What most interests me is that a great many people skied similar lines that day, including some that are pretty steep (50+).  All other reports I heard said everything was stable until Sunday's warming trend, and this was my feeling too.  

The particular spot in question involves a short, moderate approach (he says 35-40 degrees) followed by a small cliff jump.  I'm imagining that, in warming temperatures, the unsupported snow above the cliffband had begun to creep, leaving that little snowfield in tension.  Supported slopes, even when substantially steeper, seem to have fared better....but such a formulation seems a bit insubstantial when it comes to entrusting your life.  
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