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Author Topic: Feb 7, 2014, Mt Hood Powder and Close-Call  (Read 3043 times)
cascadekid
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Feb 7, 2014, Mt Hood Powder and Close-Call
« on: 02/13/14, 06:39 AM »

We had an awesome pow day last Saturday before the rain ruined the snow. With two laps on an easterly aspect, we skied thigh-to-waist-deep pow stable as the pyramids.

Changing aspects, we made a decision-making error, and ended up on some spooky, spooky snow.

Story, analaysis, and more photos here: http://mountainlessons.com/skiing/winter-returns-skiing-considerable-danger

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Marcus
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Re: Feb 7, 2014, Mt Hood Powder and Close-Call
« Reply #1 on: 02/13/14, 06:47 AM »

Thanks for the report.† I'm going to paste your conclusions after the close call here, in case folks don't visit to read the whole thing.† Good insights.

Quote from: cascadekid's report
Commitment: Though we had inched only 20′ or so onto the slope from the ridge line before digging a pit and making a decision to ski, I had an unquestioned feeling that we were going to ski the slope. With a splitboarder in the group, the idea of transitioning back into a climbing mode to return to the ridge seemed tedious. It was easier to proceed with the plan

Expert Halo: I help teach avalanche courses, and Iím outspoken. Taylor has an Avy 1 and Angie is naive to avalanche danger. Decision making took part between Taylor and I, and I was digging the pit. I think that we valued my opinion too much.

Overconfidence: We decided to ski the slope based on a pit that sounds borderline to bad in retrospect. I broke a primary rule and used a field observation to open what should have been a red/closed run based on the avalanche forecast. The slope was in windloaded terrain near treeline, i.e. where human triggered avalanches were deemed likely. Additionally, I thought that we could manage the hazard with leapfrogging on a sparsely treed slope. In retrospect, this was foolishly optimistic.
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nwboarder82
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Re: Feb 7, 2014, Mt Hood Powder and Close-Call
« Reply #2 on: 02/13/14, 08:25 AM »

Sunday we super sketchy over on Pea Gravel ridge. The snow definitely changed overnight from light powder to heavy snow making it nearly impossible to turn. We saw several natural fracture in the tree line and heard whumphing sounds on our ascent up. Definitely not safe anywhere up there right now.
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cascadekid
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Re: Feb 7, 2014, Mt Hood Powder and Close-Call
« Reply #3 on: 02/13/14, 09:05 AM »

That's the region we were in the day prior. I was nearby on Sunday the conditions had changed drastically.

There was an unsupportable crust with some saturation of the near-surface snow where we were. It was not a good day to be skiing.

On the way out heather canyon on Saturday, we were sympathetically triggering collapses on the flats as conditions warmed towards 5 pm. I think that's likely when those fractures formed that you saw the following day (see photo in the blog post)

It doesn't surprise me that the following day you were getting collapses on the up-track where we had heard none with further load and warmer temps.

Thanks for the observation!
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OregonDead
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Re: Feb 7, 2014, Mt Hood Powder and Close-Call
« Reply #4 on: 02/14/14, 03:58 PM »

Glad you made it home safe.  We all need to hear these reminders on the regular. 
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WillderDude
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Re: Feb 7, 2014, Mt Hood Powder and Close-Call
« Reply #5 on: 02/14/14, 09:10 PM »

Great report and excellent analysis and self-awareness.  Thanks for your willingness to share. 
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