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Author Topic: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier  (Read 4822 times)
Rich_B
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May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« on: 05/24/10, 09:49 AM »

Three of us headed to the east side of Rainier with the hope of better weather to ski the Fryingpan Gl.  Luck was with us when we found the gate open and we were able to skin from the trail head.  However, with low clouds and light snow we changed our plans.  Our new objective was Panhandle Gap, but the flat light ended that.  We made one short run from above the Summer Land shelter on an inch of new over a firm crust up high to breakable down low.  While having lunch, Goat Island with its treed slopes seemed like a good destination.  While high on its western shoulder the sun came out and we had great views of the Emmons, Little Tahoma, and the Fryingpan.  We had a good 1200ft run down to our packs at 6000ft.  Our nicest run of the day was from an easterly exposure off a high point at the western end of Goat Island on a supportable crust.  However, on our way out, the breakable crust reappeared.  The ski back to the trail head was exciting  at times, but faster than walking.
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CookieMonster
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #1 on: 05/24/10, 10:51 AM »

Nice to see that others appreciate the largely unadmired charms of Goat Island Mountain. There are some wonderful north facing lines, including the main avalanche path, and the complicated bowl to the west of that path. It's too bad that winter access is such an issue!
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Joedabaker
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #2 on: 05/24/10, 01:09 PM »

Nice to see that others appreciate the largely unadmired charms of Goat Island Mountain.

I doubt that it is unadmired, just to many other options. Wink
Still on the to-do list.
This is a picture that I took about this time last year.


* goat_island.jpg (190.36 KB, 1000x666 - viewed 1329 times.)
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Kenji
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #3 on: 05/24/10, 03:17 PM »

Quote
While high on its western shoulder the sun came out and we had great views of the Emmons, Little Tahoma, and the Fryingpan.

Where are the photos?  We need some evidence!

Kudos for braving the weather, unlike me Embarrassed
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Rich_B
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #4 on: 05/24/10, 07:27 PM »

Kenji, as many politicians and BP Oil's CEO say, "trust me." Smiley  We had sun, although I have no photos to prove it.
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stoked
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #5 on: 05/25/10, 05:10 AM »

What's the access like to Emmons Glacier route right now? Is it plowed to the TH? Anyone skied it recently?
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jhamaker
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #6 on: 05/25/10, 11:17 AM »

410 to White R. expected to *officialy* open this Fri, same with Stevens Canyon.
I imagine they also will soon be working on the rd to Sunrise.
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Stimbuck
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #7 on: 05/25/10, 04:40 PM »

Is your photo from Sunday?  We observed a large crown (~5') in the E bowl, likely from a cornice drop- we have seen a similar sized slab in Morse Creek from Cornice drop on a NE slope.  NWAC may post a photo, if not I'll reply with one later this week.

$
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #8 on: 05/25/10, 05:01 PM »

NWAC may post a photo, if not I'll reply with one later this week.

It's posted. Thanks! Smiley.

Does anyone have suggestions for ways in which NWAC can make some of its deeper resources more visible on the web? For lots of resources on their web page, you have to look through a couple layers of links to find them...
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NickD
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #9 on: 05/25/10, 09:56 PM »

Very sobering picture from John S. When we were first in the basin Sunday I saying to RichB and DarylW that the steep (appr 40 degree) north slope one climbs to get onto the Frying Pan could get very touchy if the sun gets too warm on all the recent fresh. The poor viz did us a favor in selecting other options. It seems a good deal less consolidated on the more northern aspects and that picture sure amplifies that!

Regarding that inquiry about White River CG road being open--when we got back to Summerland TH parking area, two guys carrying overnight packs were just leaving from their cars there and heading up the road. So apparently they could not park further up but since both were smoking ciggies, logic may not have been evident. Roll Eyes

We ran into two Rangerettes on the way out the trail. They had cleaned ice off one of the dicier log bridges by hand with rocks they found.  Made this tired fellow grateful for not having to repeat the most technical move of the day. Thanks ladies.
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Looking forward to the next ski trip.
CookieMonster
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #10 on: 05/25/10, 11:03 PM »

Great photo of the avalanche on Goat Island Mountain. The avalanche terrain in this area is really interesting.

There are ~50 avalanches paths on Goat Island Mountain; many are slowly enlarging. It's utterly fascinating to imagine that decades of future avalanches will slowly strip the trees from large sections of the mountain. The large bowl where the avalanche was shown has a very obvious flattening in the runout zone that prevents must prevent most avalanches from descending into the trees below. Otherwise, it would be a hell of a ski run.

Stimbuck, do you know how often paths such as Kempers, Big Bertha run large? Do you guys have size/frequency/runout data ( a:b ) estimates for paths in this area?
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Joedabaker
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #11 on: 05/26/10, 08:42 AM »

Stimbuck, do you know how often paths such as Kempers, Big Bertha run large? Do you guys have size/frequency/runout data ( a:b ) estimates for paths in this area?

There is a PDF file online someplace, I can't find my own copy (yet) that gives the history of all the avalanche zones that could possibly effect hwy 410 and 123. It is an old copy by WSDOT pretty interesting stuff and goes back a long way with lots of historical references.

It seems a good deal less consolidated on the more northern aspects and that picture sure amplifies that!
Typically the North slopes are last to consolidate, less sun exposure.
It's a pretty deep slide. I'm postulating that the cornice drop triggered the isothermal layer resting on top of the buried ice/crust layer from way back. I would guess January?
I assume that it takes a lot of force combined with slope angle to get that big of a reaction.
Those always are freaky to see, but a good reminder that things around 7000ft are not all isothermal yet.
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Scotsman
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #12 on: 05/27/10, 12:07 PM »

Great photo of the avalanche on Goat Island Mountain. The avalanche terrain in this area is really interesting.

There are ~50 avalanches paths on Goat Island Mountain; many are slowly enlarging. It's utterly fascinating to imagine that decades of future avalanches will slowly strip the trees from large sections of the mountain. The large bowl where the avalanche was shown has a very obvious flattening in the runout zone that prevents must prevent most avalanches from descending into the trees below. Otherwise, it would be a hell of a ski run.

OK, good stuff but I don't understand the process. Why are the avalanche paths increasing and taking out the trees. Logic would suggest therefore that there had to be a period when ther wer no avalanches for the trees to grow in the first place. So why is it enlarging ...... what's changed???
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CookieMonster
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #13 on: 05/27/10, 08:33 PM »

There is a large amount of alpine terrain from ~5500 ft upwards. Alpine areas, being devoid of vegetation and completely exposed to wind and sun, make wonderful avalanche starting zones. Avalanches that start in the alpine are often large, and unimpeded by ground cover, can accelerate rapidly and descend into the trees below.

Once a path is established, frequent avalanching prevents regrowth. Paths gradually enlarge because the return period of Size 3 avalanches is often shorter than the regrowth period of ~25 years. The Swiss cut down all the timber and were beset by avalanches as a result. Ultimately, the Swiss spent several hundred million dollars ( this estimate is mine ) developing protective structures that facilitated regrowth of forest or for protection where forests wouldn't grow or re-grow. The Avalanche Handbook has several photographs of gradual reforestation from 1920 to the present day. ( Which implies a minimum 80 year regrowth period. )

For Scotsman: You raise an excellent point about the pre-existing tree growth. There isn't an easy answer because the record of avalanches in North America is much shorter than the eons long timeframe of avalanche vs. forest. The chaotic relationship between terrain and weather makes it extremely difficult to determine how the forest was established since it appears that avalanching on Goat Island Mountain is fairly constant. Yet clearly it isn't.

At present, avalanching is constant, and from the debris I've seen in several times, which included mulched conifers, it seems reasonable to conclude that the paths are enlarging.

For JoeDaBaker: I have a PDF copy of the Chinook Pass Avalanche Atlas if you're interested. Also, do you actually bake?
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Joedabaker
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Re: May 23, 2010 Goat Island, Mt Rainier
« Reply #14 on: 05/27/10, 11:29 PM »

For JoeDaBaker: I have a PDF copy of the Chinook Pass Avalanche Atlas if you're interested. Also, do you actually bake?

Yeah that's the name of it Thanks Cookie for the reminder. I got a copy online once you reminded me of the data sheets. Anyone interested can find it here.

And yes I have been a baker by trade for eons, although I mostly do a lot of technical training now.

I have noticed  the regrowth of trees in avalanche paths. One that comes to mind is the Shoestring Chute down Crystal Peak. The trees have regrown substantially over the last 15 years since a big slide took many trees out there. This year (near the bottom third) and in low years like this season turned it into a pick and peck to get around them. I have no real data to back this up, but some of those younger trees are more flexible and durable than the older trees. They tend to bend under duress better than the older trees that tend to just snap. It is a good example of trees reforesting in a pretty extreme avalanche chute.
It's not a matter of if, but when they get cleared again.
*EDIT* It makes sense that the upper elevation trees line that joins the Alpine is at greater risk of slower regrowth, but I agree with Scotsman; How did the present trees get so big if they are at greater risk? What makes slides of 100 to 300 years ago less likely to take out the trees than the ones from present to 200 years from now? Is it logical to assume that since earth is evolving to a warmer climate that tree growth would increase at a much greater pace than when the climate was colder?
This picture two years ago depicts a good snow year. many more trees were sticking out of this location this year.


* Shoestring.jpg (253.05 KB, 533x800 - viewed 531 times.)
« Last Edit: 05/28/10, 06:23 AM by Joedabaker » Logged
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