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Author Topic: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski  (Read 9035 times)
Amar Andalkar
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January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« on: 01/19/12, 11:04 PM »

With unexpected and unforecast snowfall throughout Thursday afternoon in Seattle, about 1" of freshies had accumulated by evening atop the solid thick freezing rain crust formed overnight. The temperature had held steady on my deck at 30 F all day, as the freezing rain had turned to sleet and then mixed with snow and then finally had become all snow for several hours.



The snowdepth at 100 ft elevation on the NE side of Queen Anne hill had topped 4" by evening, with the snowpack consisting of about 3" of yesterday's snow capped by 1/2" of solid ice topped with 1" of new snow.



An afternoon scouting trip around the neighborhood on foot during the height of the snowfall revealed potentially good ski conditions on Mount Garfield, the steep block of Garfield Street between Dexter and 8th Ave N. This is among the steeper city blocks on Queen Anne, with a vertical rise of about 70 ft and a gradient of over 20%. And very familiar to me, since I drive up it every time I return home from I-5 northbound, it feels almost shockingly steep to ascend in a vehicle. But also reasonably safe in terms of slide hazard, given the "DO NOT ENTER: SNOW CLOSURE" signs placed at both top and bottom (slide hazard == sliding cars or buses, not snow!). I would return in a few hours.



Skiing out the door of my condo building, just after 7pm with light snow still falling:



A brief skin along 8th Ave and up Crockett Street to Dexter Ave, then ripping the skins for the long skating descent 5 blocks south along the Dexter sidewalk to my destination. Mount Garfield primed for a ski descent:



Nice smooth snow atop the freezing rain crust on the upper half, but unfortunately on the lower part the smooth conditions of a few hours earlier had been damaged by several fresh tire tracks pulling out of a garage, making ruts through the crust. Definitely worth a second run though, so I put in a skin track up the sidewalk, just in case some vehicle suddenly came down the hill illegally. Looking back up Mount Garfield at my skin track after my second run:



Skinned back up to Dexter after the second run. Despite being a major arterial and key bike commuting route, Dexter Ave had apparently not seen the sharp end of a snowplow since the snowfall began 40 hours earlier. So much for Seattle's aggressive storm response -- a bike commuter rode by seconds after this photo was taken, riding in the tire ruts:



A long gentle skin back up the Dexter sidewalk brought me to my final descent, Mount Wheeler. A lot less steep than Garfield, but also open to vehicles -- a quick schuss straight down took care of it before any vehicles were seen.



Ski tracks beside 8th Ave:



The snowfall had ended by the time I returned home just after 8pm, but luckily the expected warming had not arrived at all yet, with the temperature still pegged at 30 F as it had been since morning. Complete door-to-door skiing:



An outstanding hour of skiing, covering about 1.5 miles of distance and 200 vert of ski descent. Nice to have several different passersby on foot voice their approval of my ski travel. And very sweet to finally get my first ever skiing in the city of Seattle, over 17 years after leaving the East Coast and settling in my adopted hometown.



Postscript: This ski trip was undertaken in the nick of time, as temperatures began to warm quickly later in the evening, reaching 33 F on my deck by midnight and 36 F by 7am. By 8:30am, the sun was shining and the sound of dripping water was everywhere:



The once-lofty Queen Anne snowpack was quickly consolidating and diminishing by the minute:



By 9:30am, the rain had arrived, the next incoming system promising to be much warmer and wetter than Seattle's two-day snow-and-ice storm.

« Last Edit: 01/20/12, 10:16 AM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

Lowell_Skoog
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #1 on: 01/20/12, 08:37 AM »

Nice Amar!

I know Garfield Street. It's right next to WRQ, where I worked in the late 90s. I used to do ski conditioning on that hill during lunch breaks. It's a steep hill.

Someday I'd like to make a snow-day pilgrimage to 4th Avenue North, near the Fremont Bridge. It's where the historic "ski leaping" exhibition was held during the Big Snow of 1916. See:

http://written-in-the-snows.net/far-country4.html

And this:



One of these days we should re-enact that exhibition. Let's hope for a big dump in 2016!

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Amar Andalkar
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #2 on: 01/20/12, 09:48 AM »

Someday I'd like to make a snow-day pilgrimage to 4th Avenue North, near the Fremont Bridge. It's where the historic "ski leaping" exhibition was held during the Big Snow of 1916.

One of these days we should re-enact that exhibition. Let's hope for a big dump in 2016!

That's really interesting! I had walked by the base of 4th Ave N on my scouting trip on foot earlier in the day, but somehow did not take a photo of it. It definitely has a lot more vert than Garfield, over 160 ft total on the 2 blocks between Dexter Ave and Queen Anne Drive. Maybe I should have extended my tour over to it last night after skiing Garfield, it's about equidistant from my condo. Oh well, next time it snows! Maybe we should do a trial run before the 100th anniversary in 2016.

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Pandora
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #3 on: 01/20/12, 12:00 PM »

Sweet TR; glad you got after it, Amar! The touring was lovely in Wallingford even as late as midnight.
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Steph M
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #4 on: 01/20/12, 01:22 PM »

Nice write-up, Amar. I love the pictures of your skis in the doorway pre- and post-trip.

I skinned into the office this AM. It was a bit slushy in some places, but otherwise a novel way to get to work.

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Qui ne risque rien, n'a rien.
daveb
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #5 on: 01/20/12, 01:55 PM »

Can't believe you didn't call me for this "once in a decade or more" descent.  Congratulations.   
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gorp
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #6 on: 01/20/12, 05:09 PM »

We found lovely packed powder on Dravus in Magnolia. 325 vertical feet per run over .4 miles, about a minute and a half per run. We logged about 2,000 v.f. feet for the evening...
Dravus Couloir Video
« Last Edit: 01/20/12, 07:29 PM by gorp » Logged
Amar Andalkar
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #7 on: 01/20/12, 06:15 PM »

Wow, nice work. That looks like a really good ski slope, I occasionally go to the QFC at the foot of that hill. Too bad that it's so far (on skis) from my side of Queen Anne hill. At those speeds, you weren't worried about cars suddenly pulling out from a side street into your path?

Speaking of potentially good ski slopes, re the earlier discussion of 4th Ave N:

That's really interesting! I had walked by the base of 4th Ave N on my scouting trip on foot earlier in the day, but somehow did not take a photo of it. It definitely has a lot more vert than Garfield, over 160 ft total on the 2 blocks between Dexter Ave and Queen Anne Drive. Maybe I should have extended my tour over to it last night after skiing Garfield, it's about equidistant from my condo. Oh well, next time it snows! Maybe we should do a trial run before the 100th anniversary in 2016.

The radar showed a nice large break between rain bands just after 10am, so I decided to hike back over to 4th Ave N and take some photos while it still had snow on it. Looking up from Dexter Ave, which shows some evidence here of snowplowing during the early part of the storm:



The lowest block between Dexter and Newell (one-way downhill at all times) has about 90 ft of vertical and appears to be similar in steepness to Garfield, over 20%. There was no "DO NOT ENTER: SNOW CLOSURE" at the top now, and I don't know if there was one earlier, so I'm not sure if this block is closed to vehicle traffic during snowfall. Looking down from Newell:



The total vert along the 2.5 blocks between Dexter and Queen Anne Drive was about 190 ft on my altimeter watch, with the upper 1.5 blocks being much less steep, guessing about 10-15%.

The crazy 7-way intersection at the top [consisting of 4th Ave N downhill, 6th Ave N, Raye Street (2 branches), 4th Ave N uphill, and Queen Anne Drive (2 branches)] is a high-traffic location, and a popular spot to play "Seattle bumper cars" when it snows. During a snowfall a couple of years ago, my car was nearly hit by a car sliding out of control down 4th Ave into the intersection, but lucky for me he crashed into another vehicle instead -- a dangerous spot when snow covered. The snow on the 3 busiest branches of the intersection was mostly gone by the time I got there today (4th Ave crosses the photo from right to left):



Above the intersection, there's another moderately steep block (over 15%) which gains 60 ft to Halladay Street, then 3 more much gentler blocks which gain another 100 ft up to McGraw Street, where the slope flattens out atop Queen Anne hill. Looking down from Halladay:



So the total vert from Dexter to McGraw is about 350 ft, greater than many Midwestern ski areas and even some East Coast ski areas. Like Blue Hills south of Boston, just a few miles from my high school and where I first started ski racing, training slalom 4-5 nights a week under the lights from 5-9pm, enjoying 310 vertical feet of man-made ice (and sometimes a bit of snow too). It's interesting to realize that I have more skiable vert than that just down the street from my home, sometimes.

Definitely will have to ski 4th Ave N during the next good snowstorm!

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ryanl
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #8 on: 01/20/12, 06:19 PM »

Totally rad Amar!
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blackdog102395
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #9 on: 01/20/12, 07:12 PM »

Wow, nice work. That looks like a really good ski slope, I occasionally go to the QFC at the foot of that hill. Too bad that it's so far (on skis) from my side of Queen Anne hill. At those speeds, you weren't worried about cars suddenly pulling out from a side street into your path?

I predict a 50 page thread focused on your decision making, tolerance for risk, and relative street skiing experience! Wink
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Don_B
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #10 on: 01/20/12, 08:19 PM »

Nice tracks, and timed just right for the conditions as usual, ....
but where is the telemetry report???

A skier posted a video on the West Seattle Blog of the Seattle ski descent with most vertical:
from the highest point in the city at the Myrtle Reservoir Park, 520 feet above sea level down to the water, at Lowman Beach Park. Not a first descent, but an opportune moment seized.
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Oyvind_Henningsen
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #11 on: 01/20/12, 08:49 PM »

Nice, did not know you had a ski in - ski out place Amar ;-)
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Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
MW88888888
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #12 on: 01/21/12, 09:44 AM »

JP Auclair has nothing on you, Amar!

Your street sequence looks a tad more luxorious than Trail BC.

Missed your must-do back flip over 8th street N, though.
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hedonaut
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Re: January 19, 2012, Mt Garfield, Seattle, Night Ski
« Reply #13 on: 01/21/12, 02:46 PM »

Great report of our local stompin' grounds, Amar! 

Yesterday a.m. I scouted the vaunted and feared Hayes Chute, complete w/ Euro-style pub at the top.  Unfortunately, it was already too bony to drop in.

Next time we get enough snow, count me in for some Queene Anne shredding.
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