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Author Topic: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012  (Read 4813 times)
Gib
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Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« on: 10/23/12, 01:00 PM »

† †Hi again from the Alpental Patrol and Snow Safety perspective.† We have a few things coming up this fall so I thought it would be best to give as early a notice as possible.† Those who pay attention to avalanche work around Snoqualmie Pass will remember the days of artillery being used for Snoqualmie Mountain.† Back in the day we would use a 75 mm recoilless rifle when those epic storms threatened to end with a warm up and the bigger paths could potentially threaten the valley floor. If anyone has any photos from 1990 when the Phantom path trashed the shop lot and all the equipment parked there I would love to see them. Several seasons ago we transitioned to a 105 recoilless but did not ever get to fire it at the slopes. We have done the rare helicopter blasting (2008) and also managed the hazard via full closure (2008, 2011) but did not actually use the gun itself.† The ARMY is mandating that all programs discontinue the use of recoilless rifles for avalanche control.† They no longer test that very, very old ammunition and will not certify it to be actively used.† All of the U.S. programs will transition into one type of artillery, which is the M101-A1 Howitzer.† Itís a big investment for any snow safety program and with the local WSDOT Avalanche teams also needing to eventually transition from the M60 Battle Tank, it made sense to work together.†Since this is a completely different weapon system we have had to do some groundwork to pull it off.† We will have to fire from the valley floor rather than up on the Alpental slope-side gun tower so it means some target acquisition work, and establishing indirect co-ordinate capabilities. Itís probably obvious that just when you need to fire, the weather is generally bad.† That is the same reason that the helicopter control is not a very good option.† Waiting for visibility can just take too long.† The bottom line is that we will need to do a targeting live-fire mission at least once in the next couple months.† A new sign will be going up soon in the main Alpental parking lot, and both an informational website and a phone info line will provide current control plans and advisories. 425 434 6793
   The phone line has actually been in service for a couple years but the message has been consistently the same, ďNo Avalanche Control Operations are Scheduled at This TimeĒ.† Almost everyone is carrying a phone these days so the hot line seems like an appropriate means for instantly available info. We hope to pull off the live firing at a time when there is just enough snow cover to see shot placement effectively but not enough on the ground to make ski touring very desirable.† We are thinking early November but we will have to let the actual weather dictate some of that.† Right now itís anyoneís guess, but commonly these early snows donít stick around and it will still be a little while longer.
   Iíll update this posting as we get a little closer to the actual event, and also advise when itís time to begin the winter uphill touring restrictions in the ski area.† Thanks as always -Gib



« Last Edit: 10/30/12, 06:30 AM by Gib » Logged
Mofro
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #1 on: 10/23/12, 01:43 PM »

Thanks for the update Gib.  I'll have to look and see if I have any photos of the old slide, I know I used to have some video of the carnage.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #2 on: 10/23/12, 10:55 PM »

Thanks, Gib. Phone number's stored in the cell phones. Such a cool job. Shoot straight!

Is it possible the teams involved could provide an N-hour-ahead guarantee that signs/phone numbers will be updated, especially for training work?

There's more than one way up Snoqualmie; nobody wants to head down the Phantom into artillery fire. It's possible to make a quick phone call while you rip skins atop the peak or cross Cave Ridge.

I cross-posted your announcement to nwhikers and cascadeclimbers, linking to this thread. I'll delete the posts if Gib/Alpy/WSDOT do it officially. 
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melchap
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #3 on: 10/24/12, 11:07 AM »

Thanks for the update Gib. 

Is there anyway would could post signage in the parking lot and the trailhead for both Snow Lake and Snoqualmie Mountain (maybe uphill of the brush cut area) about these plans?  How will you ensure that there aren't people up on Snoqualmie Mountain when you conduct the tests?  Plenty of people like to hike Snoqualmie Mountain on foot too. 
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Gib
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #4 on: 10/24/12, 11:37 AM »

Yes to the signs, (see original message).† Obviously making sure no one is in the area is our #1 concern.† Even more so than dealing with avalanche hazard since we can close the runout zones.† We will always give just as much notice as possible, we would hope for a minimum of 24 -48 hours.† Signs in the parking lots and trail heads will reach most but we still have those going out and about for longer trips and potentially accessing via Commonwealth or more rarely, the Middlefork.† I still hope to talk the Fire Dept into surplussing their old WW2 air raid siren and re-tasking it as an audible avalanche control warning for Snoqualmie mountain only.† It might take a few years to get everyone on the same page but you have to start somewhere.† The last thing in our favor is the weather, at the times we are most likely to shoot, most folks won't want to be touring.† For training and targeting, probably in November, we will post all of the above at least 3-4 days in advance for each effort.
Thanks for the comments.
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Jonn-E
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #5 on: 10/24/12, 03:29 PM »

I think the air raid siren is a fantastic idea.  Like at T-15 min and T-5 min.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #6 on: 10/24/12, 09:13 PM »

With the heli-bombing operations a couple years ago, the outreach at trailheads as far away as Commonwealth Basin was awesome. Friendly uniformed folks gave clear information about where and approximately when operations would take place. It was easy to plan our tour with the information they provided.

Siren sounds awesome.
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Gib
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #7 on: 11/13/12, 10:55 AM »

As of today, Tuesday Nov 13th, it looks like we will do live fire targeting this week.† Most like it will be Thursday based on the weather forecast and we appear to be getting lucky with the amount of recent snowfall.† There should be just enough on the ground to make hiking or climbing very undesirable on the phantom side of the mountain, and also skiing or riding clearly not yet on anyones mind.† We'll be updating the snow phone and putting out signs to capture those who show up that morning. We will also have staff at the Snow Lake trailhead for the duration of activities.† Snow Lake trail will be left open open for winter walkers, no hazard from above yet with the marginal foot or so of snow on the ground, but we want to make sure everyone in the area knows what's going on.† This is good practice for the public info portion of these events, we will not get every target done this time around so there will likely be another session mid-winter.† Thanks for the support - G
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Gib
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #8 on: 11/15/12, 01:51 PM »

Fog and low clouds kept us from getting this done today so we are re-upping all the messages and will try again tomorrow.† Live Fire targeting is now scheduled for Friday November 16th, 2012 at 0700
Thanks for patience / G
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Gib
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #9 on: 11/16/12, 09:06 AM »

NO SHOOTING AGAIN TODAY
SNAFU'd with lingering fog, and weather looks to be going the wrong way for foreseen future. We are now just postponing this mission until things look a little more settled.† Sorry if we inconvenienced anyone, and I will of course try to post here with at least a day or two's notice when we try again. /G
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Rusty Knees
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #10 on: 12/06/12, 03:52 PM »

Hi Gib,
Any plans for avalanche control work Friday 12-7-12?  Any restrictions at this point for skinning up chair 1 and or chair 2?  Thanks!
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tele.skier
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #11 on: 12/06/12, 04:14 PM »

Hi Gib,
Any plans for avalanche control work Friday 12-7-12?† Any restrictions at this point for skinning up chair 1 and or chair 2?† Thanks!

Ditto on that queston Gib!

*looks like a potentially epic day... IF the weatherman is right..
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Summitorplummit
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #12 on: 12/06/12, 05:02 PM »

Ditto as well.
According to hotline nothing is restricted. But it was a few weeks old. Assuming if there was any change, the message would be updated. Which states travel is allowed. So unless I hear differently on here, I will have to go with that assumption and hope for the best.
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RonL
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #13 on: 12/06/12, 05:22 PM »

Cool, I logged on just to ask this very question. Nice to know ahead of time when they call in an airstrike on your ridgeline.
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Gib
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #14 on: 12/06/12, 06:49 PM »

I LOVE it when we're all on the same page.† Long convo with Bram (Snow Safety Director) on that very subject today, and I also spoke with quite a few skinners.† We're lettin you have it for one more weekend even though you know the hazard is on the rise.† We will likely shut the uphill in the area down next week, do some bombing and start setting up the hill for anticipated opening next weekend.† Great snow levels so far have given us the DEEP up high so when we do open the hill it might be able to handle the expected impact. Are we all just junkies of the snow?† Anyway, the other half of the equation is Snoqualmie Mtn Howitzer targeting. $tim and I really need to get this accomplished and we are still hoping to do so prior to enough snow for real skiing on that side.† Today proved we missed that window.† If we get a day next week we will shoot.† If not, we may be held back to waiting for a fine Monday, which could take all damn year.† THANKS SO MUCH for all the cooperation we have gotten with both the uphill travel side and the Snoqualmie Mtn mission.† You all are highly valued in passing the intel, and helping to advise the newbies.† None of us want to see another pre / or early season accident that could be avoided by heads-up travel and always wearing the thinking tuque. Watch for the uphill travel signs, check out the sign in Lot 1 - and I will update the hotline phone when we know what we're doing.† I hope we can maybe pull it off next Monday or Tuesday. -/G
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RonL
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #15 on: 12/06/12, 07:54 PM »

Thanks!
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Gib
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #16 on: 12/07/12, 01:51 PM »

Wow, glad we left it open for uphill this weekend - SO MANY taking advantage.† That being said, I have really seen some bozo route choices today.† Everyone please remember that Alpental has had NO avalanche control work done yet this fall, a good sliding layer is deeply buried and it's getting more of a load all the time.† Travel choices are your #1 way of staying out of trouble.† OK - Off the soapbox, I just have strong feelings about our this place. Next,... Tuesday looks like a real chance at getting the Howitzer targeting in so please watch for the signs and call the hotline before thinking about travel on the SW slopes of Snoqualmie Mountain.† VERY good chance we will start avalanche control work next week as well, so I anticipate Sunday being the last day for uphill travel at Alpental unless we are open for business and you contact patrol for an approved route prior to starting up the hill.† That is the normal winter uphill requirement.† Thanks, and safe travel.† /G
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Marcus
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #17 on: 12/07/12, 02:29 PM »

Thanks again for keeping us in the loop, Gib.
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flowing alpy
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #18 on: 12/07/12, 03:50 PM »

i felt bad going down rollen with 10 folks struggling with the up.
that section took it's toll on me today.
thanks Rob & Bram for the fabulous intel on this site regarding
the mountain you help to keep safe for us.
your friend
bobbyF
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Plinko
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #19 on: 12/10/12, 09:57 PM »

i felt bad going down rollen with 10 folks struggling with the up.
that section took it's toll on me today.
thanks Rob & Bram for the fabulous intel on this site regarding
the mountain you help to keep safe for us.
your friend
bobbyF

You shoulda felt bad!† You know better than anyone that there's so many other ways down without having to roll over the up track at that cruxy spot.† Grin  It's all just fun and games I guess.
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Gib
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #20 on: 12/11/12, 11:28 AM »

POTENTIAL Weather Window on Thursday so here we go again.
ARTILLERY TARGETING NOW SCHEDULED FOR DECEMBER 13th, THURSDAY
The signs will go up today and we will have personnel on site starting very early so please do not plan to travel the SW slopes of Snoqualmie Mountain that morning.† If weather cooperates we will be done by early afternoon and open it all back up.† These closures do not affect the Snow Lake Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail but will close the uphill for the Phantom side.
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Gib
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #21 on: 12/12/12, 04:57 PM »

Still looking good for tomorrow.
Please help us pull this off and don't plan to hike on Snoqualmie Mountain tomorrow   THANKS   /G
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Gib
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #22 on: 12/13/12, 01:52 PM »

I truly hope that we did not inconvenience anyone terribly.† The idea was to get this done prior to a touring-depth snowpack but the weather had to exert dominance as usual.† We were able to get the targeting completed today so this one is OFF THE TABLE now (YAY).† We can see no additional touring restrictions for that side of the valley, at least out as far as the crystal ball will show.† That being said, I sure do hope we get the sort of winter that will force us to shoot again later on so stay tuned to the signs and keep the SnoqMtn Hotline # so you can easily know for sure. -and a HUGE THANKS to everyone for the almost universal cooperation. Also thanks Marcus for keeping this topic up front and personal as long as you have.  I would think that in the next few days it will be old news and deserve dropping. /G
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gravitymk
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #23 on: 12/13/12, 04:48 PM »

Thanks Gib, for your (and the rest of the Alpental Pro Patrol, including Stimbuck and the DOT) hard work and efforts to make Winter travel on the pass and the Alpental valley relatively safe.
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Joedabaker
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Re: Alpental / Snoqualmie Mtn AvControl - Fall 2012
« Reply #24 on: 12/14/12, 10:30 AM »

Doesn't Alpental kick off the season opener tomorrow?
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