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| | |-+  January 17, 2012 Hyak + Snoq. Avy heads-up
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Author Topic: January 17, 2012 Hyak + Snoq. Avy heads-up  (Read 3567 times)
TomM
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January 17, 2012 Hyak + Snoq. Avy heads-up
« on: 01/17/12, 12:31 PM »

Had a nice dawn patrol today but wanted to share some observations.

Started out of Hyak lot at 7 (drive up to pass was pretty nutty, dumping). Began skinning in 2+' of light fresh until I connected with a track, and later a partner by the top- good skiing with you Chris.

At the top it was 2.5/3' of new on the ski area base. Snow was very light, but there were some variances in the new snow which were evidenced by some light fractures. Chris and a snowboarder had just done 1 run down the middle zone and found it slow going except for the steeper bits. We decided to ski that small shot that is looker's left on the last 200' of vert, as we both had avy gear. This small slope is a bit steeper (35ish), and took turns watching each other on this bit.

The initial turns were phenomenal, but each of us set off some moderate-sized sluffs/very soft slab bits which propagated and ran out a bit (to the flat of that small feature). The slope was small and had a good runout/flat at the bottom, and we had built in travel to accommodate the possibility. More on this later.

We skinned back up to the top of the woodsy shot on looker's right (the one that finishes by the Oly can water tower). Those turns were great in spots, but we had to do a bit of leapfrogging to use each other's track to gain initial velocity.

All in all, a great way to start the day. It was dumping when I left (talked to a guy in the lot who had an observation spot that measured 6" new from 5 am to 9 am) and I enjoyed the rare pleasure of being the sole car on the road from the pass down to exit 34. They were team-plowing both sides and there was control work going on at Alpental, and East of the pass.

***Words to the wise***
This last round of snow has not had a chance to settle, and the temps are looking to stay cold. A bunch more new snow is on the way as we speak. For backcountry travelers, this can be a very dangerous time up there. To be able to ski/board downhill you are going to need/want some angle. Slopes of that angle are going to be holding a lot of tension, as we are getting a lot of new snow with no stabilization (warmer temps, rain).

You may think skiing trees will be the ticket, but if you are caught in a slide in trees trauma can be as bad a result as burial. And then getting a victim out in 3-5' of fresh is going to be ugly. Lastly, having skied Saturday and Sunday at the pass there are still a bunch of small (and large) terrain traps- creeks, stumps, etc. that currently present hazard and could use filling in. This storm cycle will accommodate that, but it will take settlement first.

I'd expect some large natural releases in the next couple of days as the loaded slopes self-control. I would definitely expect human-triggered slides. Please be careful out there, keep an eye out for each other. Let's all be around to enjoy this new base once it's stable!

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Marcus
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Re: January 17, 2012 Hyak + Snoq. Avy heads-up
« Reply #1 on: 01/17/12, 12:38 PM »

Thanks for the update Tom. 
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silaswild
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Too deep new snow. :-( Dangerous at Stevens, too
« Reply #2 on: 01/17/12, 07:58 PM »

What Tom said holds true in the Stevens Pass backcountry as well.
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hyak_erik
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Re: January 17, 2012 Hyak + Snoq. Avy heads-up
« Reply #3 on: 01/18/12, 09:41 AM »

Hey Tom,

Trying to nail down precisely where you got the slide to go. 

There are two main chutes from the top: East Peak is skier's right of the chair.  Hidden Dragon is skiers left of the chair.

If you were on the East Peak pitch, there is one bigger (right) and one smaller (left) section.  I am guessing you were on the bigger one and basically under the chair.  Can you confirm?

Thanks!
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Cascade Backcountry Ski Patrol
TomM
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Re: January 17, 2012 Hyak + Snoq. Avy heads-up
« Reply #4 on: 01/18/12, 10:59 AM »

Hi Erik,

If you look at the trail map online - http://www.summitatsnoqualmie.com/files/pdf/SummitEastMap2010.pdf

I believe it was where the first black diamond symbol is on the top left. There's a chance it was where the diamond below that one is. We de-skinned by the lift hut, skied a wee bit left and down to above the first steeper section. 100'+ vertical below that point is a small steep roll, then it drops another 100' or so before flattening out and joining (on skier's left) the main run ("Hyak face"). Lift line was not over this line, but over to the right past next section of trees. I am guessing it is Hidden Dragon. This slope is roughly North facing

Pretty sure what we experienced were soft slab avalanches that started as sluffs and very quickly stepped down to lower layers across and down the slope. We discussed the possibility beforehand, assessed what would happen if worst case (which in this case was very minimal), and then spotted each other down the short slope.


TAY'ers,

A bit funny to make the post and notes for an essentially inbound/sidecountry experience, but over the weekend and yesterday I saw some meaningful observations with regards to skier safety in the context of this current storm cycle. My original post was meant to temper some of the excitement about all the new snow with a wee bit of caution. As a more city and deskbound guy these days, I am always checking TAY as many people are and after my short session Tuesday wanted to add something current in for consideration.

I used to be a guide and an avalanche instructor so am used to analyzing big picture down to micro bits and then applying that to choices before and during tours. I always make decisions with safety (of myself, partners, other backcountry travelers in the immediate area, and potential rescuers should I or a party member get into trouble) in mind. There are safe choices that can be made even these days including skiing the resorts, but knowing the jones to get out in the backcountry pow then if it's too deep/slow wanting to step it up a bit to get face shots, there's the chance of getting into situations that could become more serious.

Looking forward to our renewed ski season once this settles out!

Tom
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hyak_erik
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Re: January 17, 2012 Hyak + Snoq. Avy heads-up
« Reply #5 on: 01/18/12, 03:42 PM »

Thanks Tom. 

Got your location dialed in now.  This is very helpful.

FWIW, Hidden Dragon is kind of a nick name for that little section, the real run name is "Dino's Revenge".  I always manage to get these confused.  ;-)
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Cascade Backcountry Ski Patrol
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