telemark skiingbackcountry skiingPacific NorthwestWashington and Oregonweather linksThe Yuki AwardsMt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
Turns All Year
www.turns-all-year.com
  Help | Search | Login | Register
Turns All Year Trip Reports
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
06/24/18, 03:58 AM

Become a TAY Sponsor!
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
Second Ascent
Second Ascent
Turns All Year Trip Reports
(1) Viewing these pages constitutes your acceptance of the Terms of Use.
(2) Disclaimer: the accuracy of information here is unknown, use at your own risk.
(3) Trip Report monthly boards: only actual trip report starts a new thread.
(4) Keep it civil and constructive - that is the norm here.
 
FOAC Snow
Info Exchange


NWAC Avalanche
Forecast
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  Hot Air
| |-+  Random Tracks: posts that don't fit elsewhere
| | |-+  Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
:
« previous next »
Pages: [1] | Go Down Print
Author Topic: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14  (Read 7985 times)
Good2Go
Member
Offline

Posts: 266


Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« on: 01/06/14, 11:45 AM »

Spent last weekend skiing around Liberty Bowl in fabulous conditions - 11" of new, light wind, temps in the teens, great stability (or so we thought).  We hit many lines all over the basin over the two days and saw no signs of major instability, until our final run to the sleds at 4:30 yesterday.  We dropped into the line all the way to the skier's left from the high bench below "Blue Lake Peak" (i.e., the bench below the B-day tour col), where there is a nice wide low-ish angle pow field (guessing right around 30 degrees) that terminates in trees and a drainage about 800 vertical feet below.  We had skied the skier's right side of that same field twice over the weekend, once before that same morning.  There was also a track from another skier on the skier's right hand side, so 5 total on the field.  On our last run, I traversed at the top to the untouched left side of the field, at full speed, and proceed to rail pow turns unstopped almost to the bottom.  I looked over my shoulder to see where my partner was, and was shocked to discover a fairly big avalanche coming up about 150' behind me.  I was hauling ass at the time, and (lucky for me!!!) the avy was moving pretty slow, so I was able to easily ski down to the left into some trees, outside of its path.  My first thought was that my partner had triggered it somehow, so my main focus was trying to identify any signs of him in the flow as it went by (it lasted a surprisingly long time).  Within a few seconds, my partner skied within sight on the far side of the flow, which was a huge relief.  When the slide stopped a few seconds later, it became clear that I had triggered it, likely when I initially traversed into the field, and had somehow managed to stay in front the entire time, blissfully unaware of what was occurring behind me (pics link below).  A close call for sure.  This experience reaffirmed for me that you can never be 100% sure about stability, especially when dealing with a thin snowpack with some faceted layers at depth.  In hindsight, I'm pretty sure I triggered a wind slab at the top of the field, which is guarded by some large cliffs, and is a significant deposition zone for transported snow. That slab stepped down and triggered a more reactive widespread unstable layer. All of this is just supposition though, as I did not notice any slabby snow whatsoever on the run.  It was "sugar" powder top to bottom.  Be careful out there folks! 

Pics: https://picasaweb.google.com/108543285859968429746/WAPassAvy1514?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCPKaq9iGteDHtwE&feat=directlink
« Last Edit: 01/06/14, 12:33 PM by Good2Go » Logged
aaron_wright
Member
Offline

Posts: 552


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #1 on: 01/06/14, 12:05 PM »

link to photos doesn't work for me.
Logged
Good2Go
Member
Offline

Posts: 266


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #2 on: 01/06/14, 12:34 PM »

Sorry, I updated the link.  Hopefully it works now.
Logged
ron j
Moderator
Offline

Posts: 2595


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #3 on: 01/06/14, 02:51 PM »

Glad you didn't caught up in that.
Don't know the area so the pics don't help answer my questions...
I was wondering about the approximate aspect and elevation of the crown.
Logged

"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
Good2Go
Member
Offline

Posts: 266


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #4 on: 01/06/14, 03:30 PM »

Start zone was at approximately 7,000' and aspect is N/NW.   
Logged
glenn_b
Member
Offline

Posts: 317


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #5 on: 01/06/14, 04:01 PM »

Yikes!  Could have been serious; glad you're OK.
Logged
T. Eastman
Member
Offline

Posts: 416


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #6 on: 01/06/14, 05:34 PM »

Pretty classic, NNW aspect-check, low snowpack-check...

... glad things worked out.
Logged
SKIER-X
Member
Offline

Posts: 106


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #7 on: 01/06/14, 07:34 PM »

[We will have the trails broken for you by this weekend, unless you perfer total untracked snow/ Blue Peak area skied well today with a foot of new.The waterfall face rock bands lower down on the mountain were a bit punchy and there are still good sized holes around the rocks. Even hit a few.

Lower down, there is a rain/ warming crust transition below the powder that we could feel. 

Up high, Looks  like some  cross wind loading far skiers left below the walls. Could not see the cornice. Tested a steep wind slab over a hard crust and was suprised it did not move, but who knows really it was such a small, small slab.

If I can be of futher assistance,let me know.]

Above was the intel. FSG posted to you. It's from exactly where you skied ! We observed many crown releases on wind affected N,NE,NW aspects below ridgelines as well as sun affected rollerballs and wet slides from 1/3 through 1/4. Probably a good idea to ski one at a time with a lookout or leap frog from safe area to safe area. I took a ride in that same spot , similar conditions a few years back . Glad your Good To Go.   X   Smiley
Logged

Skiing Batman,1000 missions club,proudly censored  poster and observer.Zambonista International Night Ice Meister. Scouts lead g. . . . follow. A.D.A. approved  trail setter. Black market guide.Seldom Scene.Non person.Imaginary friend.Amateur psychologist. Psychic. Aura checker.Asylum resident #33
JohnBox
5Member
Offline

Posts: 20


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #8 on: 01/07/14, 09:36 AM »

On Dec 26th I was within a 1/4 mile of that slope, perhaps even directly below it.  We saw where it looked like a previous group had been a few days prior.  It looked like they had triggered a collapse with a one crack forming in the snow.  We decided to dig and did one ECT on a ~25 degree slope that did not move at all.  I then cut the ECT apart and did a couple of compression tests and had one failure ~8 inches down that went on the second tap from the elbow. 
The second test failed at 8 inches on the second or third from the wrist.  If your slide stepped down maybe that is the layer.  I'm pretty new at this and we didn't stick around much longer to do any more digging.  I'm glad to hear you were alright.
Logged
Good2Go
Member
Offline

Posts: 266


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #9 on: 01/07/14, 11:16 AM »

On Dec 26th I was within a 1/4 mile of that slope, perhaps even directly below it.  We saw where it looked like a previous group had been a few days prior.  It looked like they had triggered a collapse with a one crack forming in the snow.  We decided to dig and did one ECT on a ~25 degree slope that did not move at all.  I then cut the ECT apart and did a couple of compression tests and had one failure ~8 inches down that went on the second tap from the elbow. 
The second test failed at 8 inches on the second or third from the wrist.  If your slide stepped down maybe that is the layer.  I'm pretty new at this and we didn't stick around much longer to do any more digging.  I'm glad to hear you were alright.
You could be right about the layer.  We dug around a bit at the beginning of the weekend, and more thoroughly the weekend before.  We were aware of several faceted layers in the snowpack, but we couldn't trigger a reaction with skis anywhere no matter how much we tried (e.g., via ski cuts or at switchbacks while skinning, etc.).  That's what made the substantial propagation so surprising.  Unstable layers at depth are pretty difficult to predict.  Can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I wouldn't want to be a heli guide up there right now. 
Logged
TN
5Member
Offline

Posts: 70


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #10 on: 01/07/14, 08:49 PM »

FSG, (and all Wash Pass skiers):  Good2Go messaged me that his slide "took out" the skin track that you and I avoided on Friday.  I talked with a member of the team that set it on the phone tonight.  I'm agreein' that folks are spending too much time exposed.  Whatever the destination is, putting the original, main uptrack in the safest, then easiest (often not the fastest or most direct) location is going to be more and more important as we see increased use.  Our uptracks here get reused frequently and we don't get many dumps that erase uptracks.  Hopefully we can avoid the Mt Baker syndrome here. 
On Sunday we "met" two new valley transplant couples.  I guess continued mentoring is still "on our plate".

Perhaps this thread should have been in the Weak Layers section and I'll try to post something similar there.  The most important point here is the most likely aspect to go wrong:  When a skin track is in "threatened terrain" where a skier triggered slide is reasonably possible, AND "line-of-sight" communication is absent.  In a remote location, a single team could do this MAYBE.  In popular areas it should be a no-go or a "set a new uptrack" condition.  If you cannot see if anyone is following your exposed uptrack how can you ski onto the slope that threatens them?  If you are following a track into threatened terrain how can you risk having the track-setter bury you?
Hopefully we can get this through to the less aware folks.  We have a lot of terrain that fits here in the N Cascades!
« Last Edit: 01/07/14, 09:55 PM by TN » Logged

"Slow down!  Let ME break trail!  Save the turns and the steep stuff for the way down.  We'll get there sooner,  ski all day and you'll still be able to stand up after dinner tonight!"  The Trail Nazi
flowing alpy
Member
Offline

Posts: 1325


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #11 on: 01/08/14, 08:33 AM »

mt. baker syndrome is a nice way to term the uphill/downhill interaction and congestion.
b
Logged
all mtn
Member
Offline

Posts: 462


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #12 on: 01/08/14, 09:24 AM »

Very detailed report. Just to recommend, do you measure the slope angle with an inclinometer. And,  It kind of sounded like the release was similar to a spring slide - when the release moves slow. This website has the weak layer page.
Logged
Jim Oker
Moderator
Offline

Posts: 1551


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #13 on: 01/08/14, 09:26 AM »

Important thoughts on uptrack management, TN. Thanks for sharing.
Logged
ND
Member
Offline

Posts: 110


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #14 on: 01/08/14, 12:21 PM »

Glad you were skiing fast enough, others might disagree with me but riding as fast as possible for conditions is safer. 

I wonder if there was a rock near the trigger point, can't quite tell from the photo.  Perhaps there was a thick hoar layer surrounding a rock, it could easily propagate from there even thought pits weren't very reactive. 
Logged
Jim Oker
Moderator
Offline

Posts: 1551


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #15 on: 01/08/14, 01:09 PM »

Or perhaps the snow cover was just thinner up at the top of that side of the run, thus making it easier to trigger on weak layers that were more deeply buried elsewhere?
Logged
all mtn
Member
Offline

Posts: 462


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #16 on: 01/08/14, 06:56 PM »

At my home mtn, Mammoth, CA, the very top is similar to this spot. There are rocks above, and the snow accumulates below the rock outcroppings (as the snow doesn't stick to the rocks). The main run is named Climax. Due to the possibility of a climax avalanche, usually from a rain event prior to a large snowfall. In Feb, '86 a 22 foot fracture was measured at another apex of the mtn !
Logged
mattfirth
5Member
Offline

Posts: 31


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #17 on: 01/08/14, 09:11 PM »

Have any of you skied the south side of Blue Pk? Quite a few years ago we had yet another shallow early season snow pack, I don't remember if we'd had any cold temps but most likely so given the eastslope. We'd skied Madison Ave almost to the valley bottom, had climbed back up and were sitting at the col having lunch and trying to decide if we were going to ski it again. One of our group walked over to just below Blue Pk and started to dig a pit. That set off the whole slope from just a few feet below where we sat - wall to wall, to the ground and all the way to the valley floor.

This year reminds me of that year. Watch out.    
« Last Edit: 01/08/14, 09:16 PM by mattfirth » Logged
SKIER-X
Member
Offline

Posts: 106


Re: Close call at WA Pass 1-5-14
« Reply #18 on: 01/08/14, 09:57 PM »

This run has a series of fall line ribs separated by troughs that run up to the rock face. Not much higher is the ridge line .This spot gets quit a bit of multi directional wind. Where the upper edge of the snow deposition meets the rock face there is usually a layer of ice . If you traverse high on this slope you cross rib trough rib trough etc. When I triggered this slope I was the fifth one down. It's a real sleeper . Hope this helps.   X
Logged

Skiing Batman,1000 missions club,proudly censored  poster and observer.Zambonista International Night Ice Meister. Scouts lead g. . . . follow. A.D.A. approved  trail setter. Black market guide.Seldom Scene.Non person.Imaginary friend.Amateur psychologist. Psychic. Aura checker.Asylum resident #33
Pages: [1] | Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Login with username, password and session length

Thank you to our sponsors!
click to visit our sponsor: Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
click to visit our sponsor: Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
click to visit our sponsor: Second Ascent
Second Ascent
click to visit our sponsor: American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
click to visit our sponsor: Pro Guiding Service
Pro Guiding Service
Contact turns-all-year.com

Turns All Year Trip Reports ©2001-2010 Turns All Year LLC. All Rights Reserved

The opinions expressed in posts are those of the poster and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Trip Reports administrators or Turns All Year LLC


Turns All Year Trip Reports | Powered by SMF 1.0.6.
© 2001-2005, Lewis Media. All Rights Reserved.