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Author Topic: January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl  (Read 3674 times)
JasonGerend
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January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl
« on: 01/21/12, 10:20 PM »

Quick report - did a short afternoon/evening skin up Source Lake Bowl. Tons of snowshoers (none with avy gear), but they mostly stayed at the lake and out of harms way. Lots of fairly fresh avalanche debris on the apron above Source Lake. We headed up to Chair Peak Basin, but turned around at the beginning of the tree farm on the way up because I'm pretty sure I heard some "wumps", and caused a small crack as the slope got steeper. Also saw about a 1' crown that looked no more than a day old. That combined with the late hour and a tired partner was enough for me to call it, so we descended from there. Sorry - no pit data today...
Snowboarded down in the very nice snow (until the avalanche debris). Just before reentering the Source Lake Bowl area on a steep (but very small) rollover, I triggered a ~15' crack where I paused to let my partner catch up. It didn't move when I started again, but it reaffirmed my decision to not continue up to Chair Peak Basin.
On the way out by headlamp and reflected lights from Alpental, we saw fresh avalanche debris stopping about 1" short of the skin track in the first open clearing on the way up. Not a big slide (maybe 10' wide and about foot deep at its terminus), but still a reminder that things are moving.
Have fun and stay safe out there! Smiley
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kevino
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Re: January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl
« Reply #1 on: 01/21/12, 10:30 PM »

We were setting up all sorts of small slabs at hyak this morning.  Not suprised to see more reactive snow out there.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl
« Reply #2 on: 01/22/12, 12:35 AM »

We were setting up all sorts of small slabs at hyak this morning.  Not suprised to see more reactive snow out there.

Us too - even found a reactive pocket (18"x10' square) almost beneath the Silver Fir lift after we left Hyak. Most active layer seemed to be a thin crust ~18" down. Less cracking, more cohesion to the slabs?
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snowken
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Re: January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl
« Reply #3 on: 01/22/12, 07:11 AM »

pardon my "naive" question here..... I am a someone who loves to get into the backcountry, but since i'm a mediocre snowboarder at best,  i travel by snowshoes.   i read this forum often both because i want to learn / stay updated on avy info,  and actually it's quite enjoyable with some great photo's too.

so my question,  isn't it still reasonably dangerous on snowshoes, or skis for that matter, to head up to source lake when the avy danger is a pretty solid 'considerable'.   aren't those several wide open shoots, with smallish cliffs above possibilities to slide.     i'm referring to the hiking trail side,  but the alpental backcountry side of the creek seems about the same.


thanks,

ken
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JasonGerend
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Re: January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl
« Reply #4 on: 01/22/12, 10:23 AM »

Hi Ken,
I'm not an avalanche expert myself, but I would stay off the summer trail on days with Considerable avalanche danger - too many avalanche paths above it. The Alpental backcountry exit path (starting from the upper Alpental parking lot, which, along with all of the other Alpental parking lots, was full yesterday) also has slide paths along it, at least if you take the high traverse which hugs the slope rather travelling on the valley floor. This is where I saw on our way out fresh avalanche debris that had happened during the day. If you stay on the valley floor you might be reasonably safe - I can't remember the exact path - though to get to Source Lake you'd have to climb through prime avalanche terrain at least once near the end.
Personally, I'd be hesitant to go even to Source Lake without avy gear and expertise on a Considerable day. I kept asking the snowshoers if they had avy gear and mentioning the fairly high danger. I wonder if an avalanche danger warning sign at the parking lot/trail head would be a good idea, but I guess you can't put them everywhere. I think it's great how many people are getting up into the mountains on shoeshoes and enjoying nature, but I do worry about them heading into avalanche terrain on dangerous days without a good sense of what they're doing. I did that a once or twice when I was 18 and am glad that I don't do it anymore...
Anyway, that's my $.02 worth. There are a lot of people on this board with really deep (so to speak) knowledge of avalanches and the relevant terrain who might have more to say on the matter.
Have fun and stay safe!
Jason
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RonL
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Re: January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl
« Reply #5 on: 01/22/12, 03:42 PM »

I believe there was a snowshoe avy death along that route in the not too distant past. I think it was a lady. I remember that being an almost extreme avy danger day however.
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Zap
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Re: January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl
« Reply #6 on: 01/22/12, 04:53 PM »

I believe there was a snowshoe avy death along that route in the not too distant past. I think it was a lady. I remember that being an almost extreme avy danger day however.
On December 13, 2003 , a female snowshoer was caught in an avalanche along the Alpental side of the trail that is the exit route from the Alpental Backcountry.  She was buried in a terrain trap and her body was recovered a few days after the accident.
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NickD
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Re: January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl
« Reply #7 on: 01/22/12, 07:34 PM »

I believe that 2003 fatality day had an avy danger rating of considerable. A much stronger storm than predicted had rolled in. There was a field trip there, involving some folks I know that day. They stated the danger ramped to high or almost extreme as the storm ramped up. This was also when NWAC had more general forecast zones.

Ken, jump into one of the local Avy 1 courses asap. I know, broken record. And save all those nickels for a split. Slowshoes are $#% &. When you have done those two, please pm me and I'll be glad to show you some safe spots on sensitive days. Strong trailbreakers are gold! Wink
« Last Edit: 01/22/12, 07:38 PM by NickD » Logged

Looking forward to the next ski trip.
andyrew
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Re: January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl
« Reply #8 on: 01/22/12, 07:41 PM »

If this is the same accident I'm thinking of, it was a small slab that pulled out at the base of the mushroom couloir. It carried her into that nasty gully and buried her 20 feet deep. I don't know what the avy danger was rated at, but it was really a tiny slab, like D1.5 that ran on storm snow. It's a tragic reminder that the terrain doesn't care how familiar you are with it. That gully is an ugly trap, doesn't matter if you've got the latest beacon and have travelled the source lake route 100 times.

Edit:
Accident report
Avalanche was probably more like a D2.
« Last Edit: 01/22/12, 11:29 PM by andyrew » Logged
snowken
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Re: January 21, 2012, Source Lake Bowl
« Reply #9 on: 01/22/12, 07:46 PM »

Jason,  thanks for thoughts,  and i'd say worth a lot more than 2 cents.    ...  once again,  i stayed home this weekend while i felt it was the best way to stay out of harms way.   from the first read of your post, it seems like i wimped out,  i appreciate your reply that i made a reasonable decision.    as for me,  i think the best avy gear i have is my head,  not  only to avoid questionable terrain / conditions,  but also a few other things like keeping well separated at any questionable spot.  after reading the report of the two folks both caught in an avalanche about a month ago,  i will continue the practice even if my co-travelers think i'm a nut.  

..... so far i've only found one snowshoe route that has no  bad spots,  from the price creek (aka keechelus ridge ) snow-park.   i'd love to hear of other places that folks would consider outright safe on a 'considerable' day.

.... and as far as the casualty on the alpental side,  i remember it pretty well.   i had a long discussion with someone i mountain bike with,  who ski's alpy a lot, including the backcountry  --- according the official avy forecast,  it was only 'considerable' that day.  my friend wrote back to me that it was dumping that day,  and the bc should have been completely avoided.....   two other points from that event,  the woman worked for my nextdoor neighbor, :-(.   also,  the same weekend,  three snowshoers were trapped at artist point.  one dug himself out after 20 hours, another was rescued once he reported it,  the third didn't make it.   ron judd of the seattle times wrote a detailed article,  probably still on the seattle times website,  and an incredible read.

yes,  let's all stay safe, so we can venture out another day.

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