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| | |-+  Janurary 3, 2010, Crystal, Hen Skin
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Author Topic: Janurary 3, 2010, Crystal, Hen Skin  (Read 2386 times)
prestonf
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Janurary 3, 2010, Crystal, Hen Skin
« on: 01/04/10, 05:53 PM »

I guess this is slightly dated info at this point, but I thought that some of the TAYers might be interested, so...

Eric and I did a couple of short "powder" laps in the Crystal BC on Sunday.  We did one run over towards Threeway, but everything over there was pretty tracked already, so we moved on.  We did notice a couple of crowns from the day before.

On our 3rd lap of one of the N. facing slopes near Hen Skin Lake, we managed to pop loose a small slab while on a traverse (call it a ski cut Wink) at 6100 ft.  This was our 2nd time doing the traverse.  I don't know if a sweet spot was hit or if warming played a role (this was at around 2:30).  Anyway, the slide was small (maybe 50 feet wide) in a shallow gully feature and didn't run very far (maybe 200 ft?), but broke down to the crust layer, so was deep (2+ feet).

No obvious signs (whoomps, cracks, etc), but our spidey senses were tingling and we didn't go as high as we could have; we chose to top out in the last clumps of trees and leave the last, steeper 100 ft or so for another day.

The snow, while not powder by any stretch of the imagination, was a huge step up from the crust we've been stuck with recently.

Here's a link to a short (1 min) video (welcome to the year 2010!) showing what I tried to describe and a couple of turns:

http://www.vimeo.com/8543860

Pardon the rough language.

Peace.
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Joedabaker
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Re: Janurary 3, 2010, Crystal, Hen Skin
« Reply #1 on: 01/04/10, 06:23 PM »

50ft wide x 2ft crown x 200vf
I would categorize that as rather large, but if that was the small one on the video it looked like it could have been bigger given the right trigger.
I heard of a pretty huge avalanche over in that neck of the woods (JBAS) a couple days ago. I talked to a guy I know who had a near burial not far from where you guys were riding. He said the release was a real audible "POP" sound. Freaky...Looks like the wind loaded slopes on the N-NW slopes on that decomposing crust layer are hard to figure out where they are going to slide. Guess all this rain load may solve that issue.
What did your pit tests tell you?
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prestonf
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Re: Janurary 3, 2010, Crystal, Hen Skin
« Reply #2 on: 01/04/10, 07:06 PM »

Hey Joe,

Yea, any slide, no matter what the size, feels big at the time and makes you wonder where you screwed up!!! 

Like I said, we saw the crowns from the day before (which all looked to be skier triggered?) and read the forecast, which mentioned patrols' observations of stuff stepping down, so kinda knew that we'd have to be careful.  We saw the slide you mention above JBAS and another further lookers left.  That, combined with the eerie feeling that comes with sticking your pole in a few inches, feeling a soft crust, and then having your pole go easily into another foot of snow was enough for us to set our skin track with tiny switchbacks in the trees. 

Our first 2 runs in this area were pretty cautious and hugged the trees, and the video shows what happened on our fourth run of the day.  In retrospect, after having a pretty awesome time all day, I was probably feeling a little complacent at that point.  I'm glad that I at least waited for Eric to cross the slope by himself purely our of habit...

I think warming had something to do with what happened, but that's just speculation.   Definitely eye opening to see slides go deep like they were around Crystal over the weekend! 
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jcocci
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Re: Janurary 3, 2010, Crystal, Hen Skin
« Reply #3 on: 01/04/10, 08:53 PM »

Southback was really good yesterday (sunday). I hiked the King 5 times and each run was better than the previous. I found some powder.
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skierlyles
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Re: Janurary 3, 2010, Crystal, Hen Skin
« Reply #4 on: 01/04/10, 09:33 PM »

Had similar conditions out near Crystal Lake and Morse Creek...

While headed out for some slackcountry near Threeway, Altasnob and I saw a clean slab release on a N facing aspect draining down into Crystal Lake. The crown face ~1.5 feet deep, ~50 feet wide, ran for hundred feet or more (unverified as it was a bit out of sight). Definitely a windloaded slope that developed a cohesive slab and slid on the Christmas crust. Some guys looking to go a bit higher passed us while we deskinned and triggered the slab when setting a switchback. I darn near skied the slope next to it and am glad I didn't as it could have failed just as easily. Some jigsaw pieces that never made it down were left behind uphill. Nearby I dug a quick pit- as I began to isolate a column it failed clean and popped off just as I cut the back. This was not the slope we planned to ski, but rather was a slightly sheltered north facing aspect just off of the ridgeline (similar to the one that just slid before us).

While choosing to ski different aspects we encountered more evidence of recent (within past day or two), naturally triggered avalanches. Probably saw three or four similar crowns. Some were below steep cliffs and rocky outcrops, others were in gullies or convexities (several aspects involved). These could have been triggered by tree bombs above, sloughing off the cliffs, warming, or other triggers. Felt a bit of settling in the snowpack during the day's travels and heard a small avalanche somewhere off in the distance (temps were warming up noticeably at this point).

It was a day of learning, shin deep powder skiing, and a reminder of how awesome the power of nature is.

A few pics for a visual sense of the day:
1st- jay arcing a turn
2nd- witnessed slab release
3rd- old slide



* P1020028.jpg (65.01 KB, 500x375 - viewed 530 times.)

* P1030030.jpg (63.52 KB, 500x375 - viewed 504 times.)

* P1030037.jpg (98.58 KB, 500x666 - viewed 513 times.)
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Joedabaker
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Re: Janurary 3, 2010, Crystal, Hen Skin
« Reply #5 on: 01/04/10, 10:26 PM »

Thanks for the update Preston.
Good to hear the other safe stories of the area. I had a weird feeling about that area. Someone asked me if I was going to go out to JBAS and I thought it would not be a good idea, lucky I trusted my gut on that one.
I did see a spectacular event from Northway chair just below Flying Floyds. A skier came around the base of a rock band to spot a buddy jumping off the rock. The jumper caught about 15 feet of air and landed into a double front flip. The impact of his landing created a 10 inch deep by 10ft slab release that swept the spotter and the jumper. Fortunately it did not go very far and both were uninjured, maybe a couple bruised egos. Needless to say a good reminder of the potentials and entertaining.
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