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Author Topic: March 13th, Hurricane  (Read 2167 times)
chmnyboy
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March 13th, Hurricane
« on: 03/13/10, 06:57 PM »

Had an awesome day up at Hurricane. It was fun, then it was a little bit scary, then there was a lot more fun, then I almost had a panic attack, then there was some more fun. There's a lot to report here, so this might get long. The worst part: I'm not even gonna post pics (but there were cameras abound, so perhaps someone else can post).

Got the privilege of getting past the park gate an hour early to join GaryJan and other Hurricane patrollers in doing avi assessment and control work in the area. Immediately we find a lot of snow. Just a ton of light snow. A few pits and dropped cornices later, we find no signs of instability (no crusts, essentially no windslab, even just below ridgetops) and determine we've done all we can short of just skiing it. We get halfway down avalanche (great name for a run, right?) and, being new to control work, I come upon an epiphany and say to Gary "so, if we're gonna open this and let everyone ski it, we shouldn't be skiing safe lines, we should be taking the most avi prone lines and rip 'em hard, right?" Gary: "yep."

BTW, I should say that the snow was amazing.

So I shoot right down the gut, over a rollover, with no reaction. Jan goes next, and to everyone's surprise the slope goes. It was a short slope, and Jan kept her cool and stayed upright, only getting buried to about her waist/chest as the snow came to rest. It wasn't a huge avi, but watching it go was scary as sh*t. Jan was able to get herself out before any of us below could get to her, and those above didn't drop for fear of dumping more on top of her. After she was out, Gary skicut the rollover, sending the rest of the snow to the bottom of the slope. In retrospect, I shouldn't have just skied the convex rollover, but skicut it. The slope failed right on the line of Jan's longer radius turns, and I suppose mine were so short that it didn't have a wide enough weak spot to fail. It was really interesting that this didn't occur in the windloaded section, but about 400' (?) down the slope.

Edit: I wasn't sure of the slope angle so I didn't want to post any erroneous info, but after discussing with Gary today, the run is 40 degrees top to bottom, so a little more where the slide occurred. The remainder of the day we were on ~30 degree slopes.

We skinned back up and skied the lower angle slope across the bowl, which were nice, but there was so much snow it was difficult to get enough speed to make turns. Skied a few laps and watched another local set off a larger, scarier slide near the same location of our slide. He escaped, but this one ran much further and faster, with an audible "whoosh" as it crashed through a grove of trees.

After that, we skinned out to Maggie's and couldn't resist skiing North Bowl. Although it was later in the day, the snow didn't seem to be changing too much, and N Bowl benefits from being a little bit more protected from wind. No surprises here, and the snow was still really good. Decided to drop through the bowling alley and we were persuaded to ski with Greg (an occasional TAYer) and his wife into Lost Bowl. He did some further persuasion on me to ski an alternate line into the bowl, which was certainly steep, but had a good runout. The snow was again very stable, but there was just a ton of the stuff. He dropped to a safespot, and despite all my logic that it was a "go," the combination of the sluff, faceshots, steepness, and previous avi's caused a slight panic attack on my first few turns. I was able to gather myself and have a great run, but my heart was pounding.

We finally called it a day and skied back to the road, catching a lift back to the truck. What a day.

South facing slopes developed a crust by the end of the day. N slopes were still skiing incredible. Everything seemed to still be pretty stable by the end of the day (not slabby, no buried weak layers...) but there is just so much snow that if you don't choose the right line its bound to become unbound. If the warm front moves in its gonna get nasty. Be careful out there.

Gary, feel free to add to or refute any of this Wink

Oh, and thanks for an incredible day! When is the next time we'll get snow like this to ski in the Oly's?!? (aside from tomorrow Grin )
« Last Edit: 03/14/10, 01:22 PM by chmnyboy » Logged
tdave
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #1 on: 03/13/10, 07:24 PM »

thank you for your sense of humor. i badly needed this tonight after a long day in my shop building doors. glad you had some fun today.
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Snow Bell
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #2 on: 03/13/10, 08:02 PM »

Thanks for the report.

It sounds like I should teach my wife to ski so that I can send her ahead to scout. Wink
(Glad that your OK Jan)

Are you guys going back for more tomorrow?
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Life is going to slide by you one way or another
Keith_Henson
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WWW
Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #3 on: 03/14/10, 07:47 AM »

Thanks for the report.

It sounds like I should teach my wife to ski so that I can send her ahead to scout. Wink

Joe, that's what avalanche poodles are for.
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Keith A Henson, Puyallup
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"Let's go! That powder's not going to ski itself."
www.KeithHenson.net
skier8484
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #4 on: 03/14/10, 09:39 AM »

Glad you guys had a good day, and everyone made it out ok. 

One question though, how did you keep your tips up in the super deep snow?  Grin
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chmnyboy
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #5 on: 03/14/10, 01:17 PM »

One question though, how did you keep your tips up in the super deep snow?  Grin

Just pull the joystick back. Way back. You knows how I roll...
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jhamaker
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #6 on: 03/14/10, 01:29 PM »

or telemark.
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splitgirl
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #7 on: 03/14/10, 07:08 PM »

Yes a very strange day indeed up there....I was headed out to Maggies, followed your tracks out and saw you drop in on the North side of Maggies, as I continued on a large section on snow I was on gave a large whoomph sound which set my heart pounding. Maggies was lovely but slow as the sun and temps were quickly changing the conditions. Brian it was difficult to keep my tip up and have never needed to lean back so far on my board as I had to that day my ride seemed to be in slow motion and while waiting for a ride back up to the top I decieded to move my bindings as far back as they could go on my board which still seemed to improve very little for my next run down Face to the Poma lift. I ran into many friends who talked about the slides they set off that day, thankfully I didn't have one of those stories of my own but it was definately in my thoughts when I rode that day...all in all a beautifull day up there and was thankful to see all the new snow.
-Summer
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Gary_H
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #8 on: 03/14/10, 09:58 PM »


Gary, feel free to add to or refute any of this Wink

Oh, and thanks for an incredible day! When is the next time we'll get snow like this to ski in the Oly's?!? (aside from tomorrow Grin )
Quote

Nothing to refute, but I'll add a couple things.

Saturday had all the potential for being a pretty hazardous day at the Hurricane Ridge Ski Area. The Ridge had received better than a foot of new snow during the Thursday, Friday storms. What was concerning was this snow fell with strong NE winds blowing, highly unusual for the Ridge, prevailing winds are from the southwest. This caused loading on the steepest and most popular lift-served slopes. This usually isn't the case. This coupled with the fact that the POMA lift (the lift serving the main bowl) had not operated for two years, the forecast for blue skies, and the fact that the road had been closed for most of the winter suggested we would probably have a large crowd anxious to enjoy the fresh powder.

So, Two other patrollers and I along with Tyler and Jan went up to do what assessment and control we could. Because of being in a National Park, we can not use explosives, so control measures are limited to dropping cornices and ski cutting. As we proceeded out the ridge line, we dropped several cornices with no reaction, probing indicated about a meter of unconsolidated snow. A couple quick pits did not reveal any weak layers. When we got to the run appropriately named "Avalanche", things changed. We dropped 3 chunks of cornice on the upper slope with no reaction, but a pit revealed indications of a weak bond (CT6 Q2 @ 20 cm) between the Thursday and Friday storms. The Thursday snow seemed better bonded (CT 23 Q2 @ 50 cm) to the old snow surface. Hand hardness was mostly a uniform 4 fingers throughout.

Knowing this was the highest hazard area, and that this would be the first place many would head as soon as the lift opened, we decided to ski it using safe travel protocols. The upper concave section skied safely. As Tyler mentioned, it wasn't until the fourth skier (Jan) went over the minor convexity that the soft slab (about 20 cm thick) released. Fortunately, she reacted correctly and ended up only partially buried and was able to self-extract.

Here are a couple pictures from this event, I will post a link to some additional ones tomorrow night.

Gary


* Tyler_skiing_Avalanche.jpg (57.85 KB, 800x600 - viewed 638 times.)

* Jan_in_slide.jpg (106.42 KB, 800x600 - viewed 645 times.)

* Avalanche_on_Avalanche.jpg (82.72 KB, 800x600 - viewed 666 times.)
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There is no such thing as too much snow............... Doug Coombs
skier8484
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #9 on: 03/15/10, 05:05 PM »

Awesome pics Gary.  Can't wait to see more. 
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chmnyboy
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #10 on: 03/15/10, 08:05 PM »

or telemark.

I sooo want to join the elite, but haven't had time to grow out my hair and trade my car in for a vw bus. Until then I'm stuck with my crappy AT gear...




 Wink
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T. Eastman
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #11 on: 03/15/10, 09:57 PM »

Perhaps belief in snow pack assessment without using explosives should be relegated to private tours and not public recreation.  While this slide did occur during the patrol opening procedures, should they not have triggered the slide and the paying public had been involved, the liability outcome may have been different.  If the patrol is involved in control, whether in-bounds or beyond the gate, liability issues lurk.

Was the run later opened to the public?  Was it closed? 

I used to patrol at an avy prone area and what I have read here worries me about the protocol at Hurricane.   
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telemack
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #12 on: 03/15/10, 10:06 PM »

I sooo want to join the elite, but haven't had time to grow out my hair and trade my car in for a vw bus. Until then I'm stuck with my crappy AT gear...




 Wink
Q:  What's a tele turn?
A:  When the outside tip dives, then the rear ski.   Roll Eyes
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There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
George Santayana
Snow Bell
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #13 on: 03/16/10, 02:21 PM »

Joe, that's what avalanche poodles are for.

Good idea Keith.  Sounds like less maintenance.   Grin
Too bad they took my monkey away.
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Life is going to slide by you one way or another
ovrthhills
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #14 on: 03/16/10, 02:43 PM »

Yikes.  Glad Jan's OK. 
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Gary_H
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #15 on: 03/16/10, 09:36 PM »

Awesome pics Gary.  Can't wait to see more. 

Here's a link to a few more from Saturday;     
http://picasaweb.google.com/GaryJanH/20100313HurricaneRidgeSkiTour#

Even though it was a short day, Sunday was just about as good in the North Bowl, wish you could have joined us Joe ........
http://picasaweb.google.com/GaryJanH/20100314NorthBowl#

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There is no such thing as too much snow............... Doug Coombs
Gary_H
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #16 on: 03/16/10, 09:41 PM »

Q:  What's a tele turn?
A:  When the outside tip dives, then the rear ski.   Roll Eyes

Mack,
I'm having a hard time visualizing ..........., is this what you're describing .........


* Tele_Turn.jpg (51.13 KB, 800x600 - viewed 432 times.)
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There is no such thing as too much snow............... Doug Coombs
chmnyboy
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #17 on: 03/16/10, 09:58 PM »

Mack,
I'm having a hard time visualizing ..........., is this what you're describing .........

perfect form, completely under control, as always.
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Snow Bell
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Re: March 13th, Hurricane
« Reply #18 on: 03/17/10, 12:30 PM »

wish you could have joined us Joe ........

I really wanted to Gary and was pretty close to headed up there but I stuck around sea level and did grown up stuff.
It sucked.  It seems that no matter how diligently I try to avoid responsibility, it sneaks up behind me and forces me to deal with it.  My master plan will have me clear of such trivial tribulations by the time that my children are reared.

Great powder pic.  Is that Tyler?
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Life is going to slide by you one way or another
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