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Author Topic: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche  (Read 106918 times)
ski2fly
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #100 on: 02/28/14, 04:51 PM »

...likening it to continental regions is a bit vague to people not accustom to them.......
IMHO, if you are going to go into the backcountry you should be paying attention to the conditions from just before the first snow flies to when you are going out. So even if a person is not aware that may be the norm in the Rockies that doesn't (and mother nature won't) give them a free pass. Anyone that has read a book or taken a class on avy/snow condition awareness should be including that in their assessment.

The OP said he "did his research" but did not elaborate so whether / how much this variable was considered is unknown.  I would be interested to know the OPs thoughts on if he assessed what that early layer may pose as a risk. If he commented in the last 5 pages on that I missed it so apoligize in advance if that is the case.

The other thing is, you see a bunch of tracks or TRs, or talk to guides etc. that were in the same area that affects your decision making for sure. Someone else was already there and was the guinea pig...
« Last Edit: 02/28/14, 05:03 PM by ski2fly » Logged
z-bo
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #101 on: 02/28/14, 05:35 PM »

I can't believe you're blaming nwac for your own mistake.



edit:  to change stupidity into mistake, as this is tay and we all have to play nice.
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powhound
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #102 on: 02/28/14, 07:26 PM »

At this point I don't think we can call what it slid on a PWL. The key to a PWL is that it is persistent, hence it doesn't go away, it persists.

I agree that I think what happened here was the entire new 2 week storm(s) slid on the light, dry, weak layer that was ontop of the rain crust.

All that happened here was a typical avalanche scenario, just magnified by the unusual amount of new snow: Crust, followed by a very cold storm= light, dry, uncohesive snow=weak layer on slick bed surface. Then you introduce multiple heavy warm storms, and wind, you get a massive slab on top of the weak layer. The perfect recipe for an avalanche. It's right out of the textbook.

The only difference here than the normal scenario is the amount of snow. A skier probably wouldn't trigger it, unless they hit a shallow spot and it propagated. But the weight of a falling cornice could, or maybe it was just at the tipping point. Who knows.

What I do know, is that I've been on way hairier spots than this on considerable days, but I wasn't going anywhere even close to that level of terrain given the recent weather events leading up to it.

What I think happened here, was a classic case of looking for green lights, and not recognizing the blazing red flags. And not that I haven't done it, just not this time.

Now if someone digs down a week or two from now and that layer hasn't stabilized, then I would  consider the layer persistent.
« Last Edit: 02/28/14, 07:31 PM by powhound » Logged

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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #103 on: 02/28/14, 08:39 PM »

is a rattlesnake just a snake until it rattles, or is it a rattlesnake because it has the capacity to rattle?
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Marcus
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #104 on: 02/28/14, 09:50 PM »

I can't believe you're blaming nwac for your own mistake.



edit:  to change stupidity into mistake, as this is tay and we all have to play nice.

Thanks z-bo.
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danpeck
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #105 on: 02/28/14, 10:10 PM »

This is a very good discussion.  Thanks for starting it and thanks to all of those sharing their thoughts and emotions.  For sure, all of these are factors in our decision making and it is helpful to get them out into the open.

"Experience"  What do we mean by that?  How relevant is it to our decision making?  It seems like either we think we have more than we do, and so we are foolishly confident.  Or, we become more conservative over time?  A friend of mine in my field, who has many more years of experience than I, once advised me to "Know your limits."  I have been puzzled by that ever since.  I wish I knew my limits.  How can I know them until I reach them?  And when I do, what are the consequences?  If I'm lucky, then perhaps I learn and move on to more experience and a better understanding of my limits.  But if I don't push my limits, will I ever grow or increase my skill?

"Considerable"  When I read this, I question whether I should even be out there.  Human triggered avalanches are likely.  Conservative and careful terrain selection are essential.  *If* I go out on a considerable day, I seek terrain that I understand to be safer.  Trees.  Low angle.  Away from open slopes.  However, I know that over this very weekend I ventured into higher angled terrain then I expected I would.  We were comforted by the stability of the surface layers.  We consoled ourselves with the tests we were familiar with.  We were in somewhat treed terrain with some openings.  Nothing seemed huge.  This conversation will hopefully help me keep it all in check a bit better when the stoke is high.

"Terrain Selection."  That is really the only thing we have any control over besides the choice to go or not.  I believe the OP did their very best.  How were they to know their limits in their knowledge or to sense the weakness in their strategy until they came up against it?  I suppose that is why it is so essential that we share with one another our experiences and our limitations.  I personally would never have chosen to approach chair peak over this weekend… and certainly will still be avoiding it and similar terrain. It is huge and the consequences are "catastrophic."  For me, it is a personal rule to avoid this kind of terrain until the spring when there is predictable melt freeze cycles and consolidated snow to the ground.  But that is my own personal rule and I don't hold others by it.   It just helps me when I get tempted.  I really appreciate Charlie's TR on the terrain they selected and why.  That helps me formulate better rules for myself.

Persistent Weak Layer or the Big Hairy Question Mark:  I grew up in the Wasatch front and am familiar with this problem--In fact, when I moved to the PNW I thought NWAC never really did any real observations because the Forecast was so often "moderate."  It just didn't seem possible that it could be moderate for so long and there was no PWL to be worried about.  However, I knew the PWL would be a problem this winter from my early season tours--as Lowell reminded us; nasty curst, little snow, super cold…  then layer upon layer of snow.  I think the advice to "wait" is excellent.  At least for certain kinds of terrain.  The late spring and early summer can change everything.  Besides, the days are long and for me, this is the best skiing to be had all year.  It is the time of year to really explore the alpine on skis.

NWAC and forecasting.  The PNW is riddled with mountain ranges upon mountain ranges.  I mean, the Olympics alone are vast and I believe we only get data from one isolated location.  The weather is crazy difficult to forecast.  Varying climate zones.  Compare this to the Utah Avalanche Center.  There does seem to be more data shared from users and professionals out there.  Perhaps there is more funding.  But, the mountain ranges are smaller.  The Wasatch Front in the Salt Lake area is about the size of the Picket Range.  Yet it is riddled with skiers making observations and sharing information.  Whenever an avalanche occurs there is almost immediate data and reports with handy maps and photos.  I wish NWAC had this feature… but I realize the logistics of reporting and gathering data for the entire WA Cascade range and the Olympics is seriously complex.  It would be nice if there was an easy way to post observations while out there.  Perhaps there is and I'm unaware.   It behooves us all to make a contribution to NWAC and to provide feedback.  
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #106 on: 02/28/14, 10:22 PM »

Now if someone digs down a week or two from now and that layer hasn't stabilized, then I would  consider the layer persistent.

Good luck performing that test.   Wink

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jj
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #107 on: 03/01/14, 12:50 AM »

I've posed this question in my last two posts and no one will bite.  So I'm going to bluntly call everyone out.  It seems we all agree that there's a persistent weak layer (or whatever you prefer to call it).  When will you be comfortable to ski routes like Chair (or similar terrain) given that knowledge?

The only person that seems willing to commit to an answer is danpeck who says he will wait until spring -- I can respect that.

Here's the way I look at this issue.  There was a moment in time when the last flake fell in the previous storm cycle and danger was at some baseline.  Since then it's varied from that baseline.  Generally speaking it tends to fall over time as intra-snowpack temperatures equalize and layers bond and natural slides take place.  However, sun and high temps may cause it to increase at various points due to cornice collapses and other factors.  The probability of a slide was never 100% and it will never be 0%.

The only meaningful issue people seem to be debating is whether the group was in the particular terrain too soon.    So when will it be reasonable to be on that terrain in your opinion?  In my mind you don't get to armchair quarterback someone else's decision if you aren't willing to commit to your own decision.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #108 on: 03/01/14, 07:50 AM »

The only meaningful issue people seem to be debating is whether the group was in the particular terrain too soon.    So when will it be reasonable to be on that terrain in your opinion?  In my mind you don't get to armchair quarterback someone else's decision if you aren't willing to commit to your own decision.

I'm going to wait. I don't know how long yet. Seems like the backcountry skiing is probably crap right now, so there's no hurry.

I'm planning to get more lift skiing in during the next few weeks, having stayed away during the snow drought. I'll also continue my regular skimo workouts.

I'll be watching trip reports and avalanche reports closely. In other words, "Looks good. You go first." I've got no problem hanging back to see what other people find. Play the long game.

I'm going to be wary of big temperature or snow load changes. When we get the first "big warm up" in spring, I'm not going to rush out there. The arrival of spring will be no panacea if it arrives too fast!

I'll be looking for cool weather with a light new snow load.

Basically, I'll be playing it by ear and enjoying other ski activities for a while. I don't need to (and I'm not able to) go backcountry skiing every week. So I'm happy to just play it by ear.

If you're not satisfied with a tentative and non-committal answer, that's not my problem.
« Last Edit: 03/01/14, 08:12 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
danpeck
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #109 on: 03/01/14, 08:36 AM »

  When will you be comfortable to ski routes like Chair (or similar terrain) given that knowledge?

The only person that seems willing to commit to an answer is danpeck who says he will wait until spring -- I can respect that.


Like Lowell, I'm unable to go into the BC every week.  I wish I could and perhaps that day will come.  However, if I had the choice… I guess I feel like this question is loaded.  So much to think about.  Spring isn't the solution… as Lowell points out, it can bring it's own set of new problems.  Reading the article NWAC linked to on PDS's gives the impression that it is simply very difficult to have any real sense of predictability here.  Triggering a PDS is highly unlikely by a skier. But other factors complicate this.  Cornice fall.  Small surface avy's stepping down.  Rapid temperature changes.  Rain events. 

I suppose if someone were out there digging 2 meter pits that would be helpful.  Or, if there was slide activity out there exposing the PDS that could also help. 

Snoq. Pass has some of the most extreme alpine terrain out there.  Chair Peak is in a wild zone.  I guess for me, if NWAC continued to call out the threat of the PDS, then I would probably wait until late spring or early summer.  There are plenty of other options out there in the meantime…  even alpine options.

Another huge factor would be the travel route.  There are ways to get into areas or peaks like Chair that offer a safe approach and exit.  I love traverses in the Spring partly because of the stabilizing snow pack but also because there are often several options for route selection and the route will change based on the specific threat.  It is also true that some routes will simply remain unsafe for an entire season.  PDS's can linger into August!

This has been an odd winter.  It makes sense to make it a conservative year.  I have plans for a multi day trip in late May or early June and where I go and what we accomplish will be determined by this among many other factors. 

Today, the threat on NWAC is moderate.  Perhaps the fun is to be had in N facing glades and bowls and couloirs that do not have such big terrain features and consequences.  I like Tremper's writing on this… always think about the consequences.  "If this section goes, what will it be like?  Can I manage this?"

So… I guess my answer is I'm going to wait.  Especially through March and April when conditions can be especially schizophrenic between winter and spring/warm conditions.  That doesn't mean I'm not going to go into the BC.  It just means I'm going to avoid big faces like Chair.

Please critique my thoughts.  This is a valuable exercise for me.

Edit:

Many objective hazards in the alpine are sort of freakish… such as serrac fall or rock fall.  The risk can be mitigated by speed of travel and the time of day.  Perhaps something similar can be said of PDS's.  Be wary of the time of day where things get really warm.  Travel fast through high risk terrain.  Plan transitions accordingly. 
« Last Edit: 03/01/14, 08:42 AM by danpeck » Logged
freeski
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #110 on: 03/01/14, 08:55 AM »

Lowell,So the idea is to wait and see what us avy test dummies find and report? Then the op may have saved some lives through increasing awarenes and should be thanked for taking a big risk.   Thanks.
« Last Edit: 03/01/14, 10:02 AM by freeskiguy » Logged

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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #111 on: 03/01/14, 09:40 AM »

Lowell, So the idea is to wait and see what us avy test dummies find and report? Then the op has saved some lives  and should be thanked for taking a big risk.   Thanks.

Maybe you missed my previous post:

Quote
I have to say ALL OF US have been very lucky to have this hazard demonstrated so vividly without anybody getting hurt. shawnskis should be thanked for bringing this discussion into the open by reporting his party's experience.

So, yes, I've thanked shawnskis for being willing to bring this discussion into the open. I'm not asking anybody to go risk their neck, but I'm going to watch any reports that do show up.

Did you see davep's post here? There's lots of evidence of deep instability out there that's independent of backcountry ski trip reports. Especially from the ski area avalanche patrols.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXXHOaZyXj8

http://kimkircher.com/2014/02/23/big-avalanche-results-and-more-about-treewell-safety/

Nobody's asking you or anybody else to go out into the backcountry when it's sketchy. People are doing it because they want to get the goods first. If you don't care about getting the goods first, you can be a lot safer.
« Last Edit: 03/01/14, 09:53 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Jim Oker
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #112 on: 03/01/14, 09:59 AM »

JJ- for routes like that for me, maybe not the remainder of the season. This is particularly true of known big avy paths (and I've seen the deposit zone beneath that one when touring past from Snow Lake). But even true of other long consistently steep opens slopes. Would I go do Jim Hill in upcoming powder? Not so sure for this, let alone the big funneled slide paths. We'll see. If we get a big spring slab cycle on all aspects, maybe after that, on a day that has had a good overnight freeze (after multiple nights/days like this). If we get a ferocious pineapple event, depending on how new snow piles atop that, then I might modify my stance, but I can have plenty of fun on much more moderate lines for seasons to come so I'm in no rush. Maybe another season where despite the risk being non-zero, it appears to be much more confined to the very top layers, and we have something more in the low/moderate risk range for those layers. But I lean toward the conservative side anyway. I have been interested in getting onto that terrain, but have not had the snowpack, my schedule, and partners align for multiple seasons so I've not gone there yet. Just as I've been careful not to cultivate a taste for fine and expensive wine, I've avoided cultivating a taste for places like long steep deep couloirs. If I develop these tastes, I'm not sure I trust myself to make good calls all the time. I can still truly enjoy a $10-$20 bottle of wine, and I had a BLAST meadow skipping low angle slopes last weekend.
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freeski
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #113 on: 03/01/14, 10:24 AM »

Lowell,your last sentence is not accurate,care to re-think it?
If you don't care about getting the goods first, you can be a lot safer.

« Last Edit: 03/01/14, 11:48 AM by freeskiguy » Logged

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T. Eastman
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #114 on: 03/01/14, 10:34 AM »

Learn how to fully enjoy all sorts of terrain and all types of skisport.  There are many ways to maintain adventure and/or physical challenge other than cruising steep terrain on what can be called high-risk days.

Skiers in this region routinely ski steep terrain as the snow is generally forgiving allowing perhaps, a skewed sense of what protocol is important when evaluating a day's objectives.  Again this could be the result of rarely proving the negative and that getting ingrained into TRs and intra-community discussions.  

Little of the steep terrain is new to skiers as skiers from half a century ago skied these runs.  What is different is, number of skiers on these runs as the sport grows, gear that makes these trips easier, and an implied imperative to get there first.  

Powder isn't popular because it's hard, it's popular because it's fun... and easier than say, thousands of vertical feet of breakable!  

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Floater
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #115 on: 03/01/14, 10:48 AM »

Shawnskis

This was the best report ever on TAY.  It has been very interesting reading all these other takes on this and the variance of opinions.  I do not dis you or anyone who participated in this conversation.  I was skiing on that very day, rolling the dice.  My partner wanted to stop and I wanted to go higher on a slope we were skiing.  We chose his suggestion.  Later I was happy when a tree bomb triggered a slide on the more open portion of the slope.  It probably would not have buried us, but you could have been severely injured.  I thanked my partner for his wise choices, my problem is containing my pow fever and listening, he helps me do that.

This is all a massive game of probabilities and like gamblers or stock market players we all except various levels of risk tolerance.  Avalanches are only one factor there are other things like tree wells and steep icy slopes on which you roll the dice.  When we were out there were tree wells big enough to swallow a horse.  Here we do not risk money and instead risk injury or death.  Sadly to ski pow you have to sometimes take a few risks.

I do not think anyone was trying to blame NWAC in this discussion.  They are at best 40% of the equation, not even that.  What I thank them for is the wonderful amount of data they provide for us as to the conditions when we decide to roll the dice and their forecasts on the weather are usually more than 75% correct.  Those folks do a great job!

Oh I am certain there is a weak layer down there from the warm January weather and there will be big avalanches on that all the way through the spring maybe into early summer.  That warm January was a bad thing and following it with so much snow was not good either.  On KIRO TV they had a picture of a monster one they shot with a charge from a helicopter that probably rode down on that weak layer.  Everytime you go by one of those big open slopes above you thank the Avalanche Goddess for allowing you to go by.  Me not being an avalanche expert will never know for certain when and if one of those slopes will go.  I got some rudimentary ways for improving my odds, but it is again just a dice roll.

I will continue to refer to this site.  I know I have learned by this to be even more conservative at least for this year.  This was overall a bad ski year due to the rotten start.  I rate it in the bottom ten of my 50 years of skiing for various reasons.   I have gotten some decent powder days, but we do have our problems.  I will be out tomorrow once again rolling dice because Monday there comes another blowup (warm temps rising FLs)........thanks again for all this information and Thank you again Shawnsis for the best report I have ever read on this website.  Oh Shawnskis thank the Avalanche Goddess for only stealing your gear!!
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kneel turner
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #116 on: 03/01/14, 10:55 AM »

jj-
Right now is probably one of the safest times to ski the north face of chair peak.  It slid.
I don't really have any criticism of the op. I can say the north face of chair was not on my list last weekend, but thats a choice I can only make for myself.
I'm puzzled by the choice of line, but let's not forget:
The group had considered their elevated area to transition for its protection from a slide from above, which it provided.
It seems the group did not trigger the slide. They considered the risk of something coming down from above, accepted it, and tried to minimize it. MN took a swing at them and missed.
Sounds to me like they took the risk of backcountry skiing seriously and weighed it against the benefit of a REALLY fun activity. They used their prior education and information to mitigate risk, took care of each other when something went wrong, and made it out safely. I'm sure they've all reconsidered their choices for the day, and will try to learn from the experience. That's right, they've gained experience. I hope they find their equipment, and continue to enjoy backcountry skiing with greater knowledge and experience. Thanks for sharing.
« Last Edit: 03/01/14, 11:00 AM by kneel turner » Logged

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Jim Oker
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #117 on: 03/01/14, 11:09 AM »

Right now is probably one of the safest times to ski the north face of chair peak.  It slid.
I thought about this as an answer, modulo the potential hangfire that may remain on the edges of what slid. But It seemed more in the spirit (and wording) of the question to answer WRT to similar slopes that haven't yet slid.

I too have no criticism of the OP - only questions as to what their considerations were WRT wind loading above their line and the uncertainty level of the whole post-January load's stability. Neither of these are really apparent to me from the report, and for me this gets to the question of whether they were truly just somewhere far apart from me on the risk tolerance scale or not (which IMO is neither good nor bad as long as people aren't taking the risks in ways that clearly endanger others).
« Last Edit: 03/01/14, 11:12 AM by Jim Oker » Logged
Snow Bell
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #118 on: 03/01/14, 11:56 AM »

Great thread.  My thanks to the OP, Marcus for hosting the site and to all who have chimed in. 

I have little to offer other than I saw the largest crown I have ever come across (I remember thinking that it must have been 12') on that aspect of Chair in April a few years ago.  That stuck with me and I doubt that I would have put myself under that slope so soon following a significant snow event.

The group had considered their elevated area to transition for its protection from a slide from above, which it provided.

I'm not sure that is a fair assessment Ed; all three of them were swept up despite their attempt to "run" away.  (The thought of running away from a slide in powder snow underscores how important evaluating the safety of a 'safe zone' can be.)
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JoshK
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #119 on: 03/01/14, 12:22 PM »

This was overall a bad ski year due to the rotten start.  I rate it in the bottom ten of my 50 years of skiing for various reasons.   I have gotten some decent powder days, but we do have our problems.

I really do think it has a lot to do with how you look at it. I'd agree that overall, it has not been a very good year. We were first teased in October with a lot of surprising autumn snow, but not really enough to last until the true ski season started. Then we suffered through minimal snowfall and that warm January, followed by this 2-3 weeks of uberdump. Though despite that, January had some great corn skiing, and the dump provided lots of really fun mellow pow and storm skiing. Sure, I didn't get out and ride anything "exciting" but by making the best of it, got a whole bunch of good days. Skiing the mellow stuff can be a lot of fun, and it has the huge benefit of not having the back of your mind focusing on "what if..." There is something to be said for the removal of stress provided by taking it relatively safe.

On a tangent, I'm going to go out on a limb (and perhaps piss some people off) by putting forth the question: does the lure of boasting on the innerwebs push people into some risk they might not normally take? I think some people would (perhaps this is obvious) rather post a report about skiing something "cool", maybe pushing the limit a little bit and generating some interest and wow factor from that post. Something out of the ordinary, "bold" or scary is likely to generate more views than a post saying you skied absolutely amazing powder on mellow slopes in the trees and had a wonderful day. The same effect can be achieved on a smaller scale among a group of friends, but not on the same scale as taking it to the public and posting online. It is human nature, and I think it's at least worth some self reflection. I'd say it is one of the major reasons why while I enjoy engaging in these random discussions, I stopped posting trip reports years ago. I'm not saying this drives everyone, or is ever really the determining factor for many, but I do think it can be a background factor that drives some. Is showing off for a largely anonymous group online really worth any sort of risk? In the end, it might be worth asking, what exactly is the point of posting a TR in the first place? Does it really matter that people know you did something cool, or should it more be about the experience you had yourself and with your friends, and what you personally gained from it? I say all of this not out of criticism in any way (heck, I occasionally benefit from the conditions reports provided in TRs, as I'm sure others do), nor direct it at anybody, but as food for thought within the context of this larger discussion.

As for the rest of this season, I'd say I will be keeping it mellow and low-risk, probably in line with the decision a good number of us will be making. Spring will be here at some point, the real warm weather will arrive, the snowpack will finally get its complete baking and consolidation, the big healthy slide cycle and the Spring skiing season will start. Hopefully with all of this late season snow it will be a good, long one as well. Spring is a better time than Winter for going deep in to the mountains anyway. In the mean time, there will be more mellow powder, long days of excercise while exploring non-exposed approaches I've wanted to check out, lift skiing, and the like. Still lots of ways to have fun!
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kneel turner
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #120 on: 03/01/14, 12:33 PM »

Joe, I get what you're saying. I think we can all agree the safe zone is on the couch. The safest choice at the time was to be on that bench. It worked.
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #121 on: 03/01/14, 01:31 PM »

Lowell,your last sentence is not accurate,care to re-think it?

If you don't care about getting the goods first, you can be a lot safer.


Sure, if we're not just playing word games.

I think I just restated Ian McCammon's "scarcity heuristic."

Here's a reference (see section 3.5):

http://www.snowpit.com/articles/traps%20reprint.pdf

Some excerpts:

Quote
Most skiers are familiar with the “powder fever” that seizes the public after a long-awaited snowstorm. Intent on getting first tracks down a favorite run, hordes of skiers flock to the lifts and the backcountry, often throwing caution to the wind as they compete with each other to consume the powder that is untracked for a limited time only.
...
In short, the presence of scarcity cues corresponds to an overall increase in avalanche hazard exposure among all groups. Further investigation will be needed to asses the exact influence of scarcity cues on groups of varying sizes and training levels.
...
Consistent with what we would expect, the scarcity heuristic appears to work exactly contrary to personal safety; it is most influential when the avalanche danger is high.

If you have a different perspective on this, I'd be eager to hear it.

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Griff
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #122 on: 03/01/14, 01:46 PM »

Thanks OP. A great thread, with so many valuable comments on both sides.

Amazing that I could be so close at the exact same time (east side just above Source). Amazing that no one was killed as there were quite a few parties out that day. Now I am wondering if I saw your team, as while we did not head out until 830, we caught up to a bunch of parties.

I do remember seeing the aspect chart on NWAC highlighting the NE - N exposures as wind loaded and that actually made me think about the east side of Chair and whether it was safe. 

Perhaps IMHO the best part of this discussion is the PWL context, or not. As I thought more about last weekend, and remembered the quote from the Pro Bro that I rode up the chair with on Friday at Alpy ("I calculated this morning.....Sun - Thurs 96 inches of snow"), that it seemed to be more of a recent storm slab on top of a crappy crust, not a traditional PWL. That said, the conversation about the PNW skier not readily identifying that hazard is certainly true as well.

Everything else aside, just glad that 3 brothers are alive and will ski another day.
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freeski
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #123 on: 03/01/14, 03:19 PM »

Lowell, i'll post that when i get to a key board.
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"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
flowing alpy
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Re: Saturday February 22, 2014 Chair Peak Avalanche
« Reply #124 on: 03/01/14, 04:16 PM »

i still think that 2/3 got lucky that 1/3 didn't get them killed.
b
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