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| | |-+  March 11, 2012 Lanham Lk-Whitepine Cr Divide
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Author Topic: March 11, 2012 Lanham Lk-Whitepine Cr Divide  (Read 1759 times)
John Morrow
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Posts: 564


March 11, 2012 Lanham Lk-Whitepine Cr Divide
« on: 03/11/12, 09:02 PM »

This one is located in the Central Cascades off Hwy 2.  No guidebook mention that I know of.   Easy access to the trailhead: head about 5 miles east of Stevens Pass to the Stevens Pass Nordic Center parking lot.  Stevens Nordic have a sign above the groomed ramp directing folks (mostly snowshoers) onto the USFS Lanham Lake summer trail.  The start was fast going on broken trail 2 miles to Lanham Lake.

Jake and I have been wanting to get in to the country behind Lanham Lake for quite some time.  Wanting something new, north facing, and somewhat high, today seemed as good as any.  We were not disappointed!

The approach is great, follow the trail out of the Nordic Center to Lanham Lake and then follow the logical main drainage.  Make a bit of a climbing  traverse in nice well spaced forest to avoid a cliff band.  Gain a gentle upper basin to the saddle just east of Point 5938'.  Our goal was a great bowl/broad gully due east of the saddle.  We climbed the ridge crest east gaining a high point at 6040 feet, just before the SW ridge of Jim Hill gets rocky.

We were tentative on account of not really knowing what the snowpack stability was like beneath us.  On a short ski cut we discovered 8" to 12" light new snow on a rain crust (earlier in the week) that was somewhat smooth but soft enough to trap skis.  After knocking a small cornice, and stomping on two parallel mini ski cuts, no activity. To our surprise on the end of a longer ski cut, at a small tree, a release just wide as the length of my skis ran on the rain crust.  It was odd because it didn't fan out like a sluff, it also didn't fracture into a greater slab, it simply ran fast with two beautifully parallel flanks.  The path width stayed about the true length of my skis the whole way.  It certainly gained enough volume to make us very concerned.  Slope was N at about 35 degrees.  That was enough to make us back off that gorgeous 1000 vertical north facing run. Instead we took about an 800 vertical run down the gentle open glades south into the Whitepine cirque.  The underlying crust here was very solid and, again, another similar slide w/o lateral propagation but with remarkably parallel flanks on a 35 degree roll.
It was beautiful back there but we decided to climb back out to our saddle.  Then we continued onto Point 5938' for a nice long north-facing run all the way down to Lanham Lake. The top 200 vert off the point was over 36 degrees and slid freely once again on the rain crust with the same characteristic narrow path and parallel flanks.  The snow was cohesive enough, apparently to run like that, but not quite to propagate a greater slab across any of the slopes.
The trail ski out was fast and exciting in the snowshoe track!  There is A LOT of terrain back there to explore!
More pics here including a couple of stability:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/23557848@N03/sets/72157629566124047/


* Whitepineside.JPG (104.01 KB, 800x600 - viewed 747 times.)

* below_5938.JPG (39.4 KB, 800x600 - viewed 762 times.)

* gullyfinish.JPG (77.28 KB, 800x600 - viewed 758 times.)
« Last Edit: 03/13/12, 05:48 AM by John Morrow » Logged
chrism
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Posts: 150


Re: March 11, 2012 Lanham Lk-Whitepine Cr Divide
« Reply #1 on: 03/12/12, 08:53 AM »

To our surprise on the end of a longer ski cut, at a small tree, a release just wide as the length of my skis ran on the rain crust.  It was odd because it didn't fan out like a sluff, it also didn't fracture into a greater slab, it simply ran fast with two beautifully parallel flanks.  The path width stayed about the true length of my skis the whole way. 

Interesting.  We experienced very similar snow stability conditions on SE and E aspects near Snoqualmie Pass yesterday.  No propagation, but plenty of volume and speed to be concerned.  We wondered if anyone else, or any other aspects, were experiencing the same.  Interesting to know that the same was true on N aspects near Stevens.  Thanks for reporting it.
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Jonn-E
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Posts: 337


Re: March 11, 2012 Lanham Lk-Whitepine Cr Divide
« Reply #2 on: 03/12/12, 09:36 AM »

Same thing happened to me at Stevens Pass (ski area) in less-visited IB cliff terrain on two separate occasions.  On NE facing, the other N facing.  parralel tracks, good speed, exciting light powder explosion when it ran into trees.

FWIW, right at Power line gap the wind was howling in the afternoon and by 3:00pm that whole east facing slope there was loading rapidly (fill in between runs) and starting to propagate laterally.
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