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NWAC Avalanche
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| | |-+  March 30, 2014, Castle Saddle avalanches
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Author Topic: March 30, 2014, Castle Saddle avalanches  (Read 2835 times)

Posts: 28

March 30, 2014, Castle Saddle avalanches
« on: 03/30/14, 10:03 PM »

Quick report of avalanche conditions from  drive home...

Just before the Castle Bowl on the ascent is a short North facing slope - I went out on it a little to do a ski cut to investigate stability on what appeared to be windslab - found shooting crack maybe 5 feet in front of my skis. Warning signs...
Shortly thereafter we watched a skier descend from the steep ridge above the Castle Saddle kick off a large avalanche - the slab propagated maybe 200' wide, with a roughly 12" crown, running maybe 200' - down from the steep slope under the Castle and down the lower angle slope of the bowl. The skier was uninjured   - I'll let that party share their experiences.

Video of Castle Saddle avalanche in progress (I took this with my Nokia phone and digitally zoomed in during editing, so the footage is a bit grainy, but you get the idea...)

My partner kicked off a small slab at the top of the Castle saddle as well traversing into the slope from the North of the small cornice - also around 12" crown, maybe 30' wide, running around 30-40 feet. She had passed out of the avalanche as she triggered it, so was (physically) unaffected. Very spooky, and we descended the rest of the way on high alert.

Noticed a large naturally triggered slide had occurred today in the Louise Lake drainage, starting from debris falling from a cliff. Same 12" crown that was probably last night's snow. North facing at probably 5700' well below ridge line. 100' wide, maybe 400' run. We descended the debris, not wanting to risk disturbing the slope next to it.
Exiting to Louise Lake we saw old remains of a truly giant slide that had run maybe 1000-2000 feet on low angle slopes, with debris chunks maybe 6' high. Looked like an icefall. Here's a picture of the end of it, just above the long flats at Louise Lake.

We also saw natural sloughs across the valley running to the shore of Louise lake -  East/South slope from cliff debris - 600' slide path.
Pretty dangerous out there - please be careful - we managed to make it out safely but would've opted out of the day had we foreseen the conditions. Will try to post pictures tomorrow or later in the week, as well as possibly more discussion. (Pictured posted)

« Last Edit: 03/31/14, 10:31 AM by JasonGerend » Logged

Posts: 762

Re: March 30, 2014, Castle Saddle avalanches
« Reply #1 on: 03/30/14, 10:44 PM »

Very much appreciate your report, thanks!

I saw several point-source slides on steep E-SE aspects at the head of Paradise Valley above 4th Crossing today.  A couple ran several hundred vf and entrained enough snow to be dangerous.  The west face of Mazama Ridge was heavy 12-18" storm slab above lower density snow, but no instability noted on the moderate slopes we stuck to.  Ski penetration highly variable from almost nothing to way too much.  Pole penetration full length reversed.

I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.

Posts: 70

Re: March 30, 2014, Castle Saddle avalanches
« Reply #2 on: 03/31/14, 12:05 AM »

My friend and I were up there and we tried to warn those guys that they may not want to go up there and mess with that steeper stuff as you approach the Castle itself, because it might unzip.  We had noticed that the snow was slabby and reactive especially on rollovers and ridges.  One of the group stayed down on the saddle which was a wise move.  We later met up with them and I guess one of them went for an unwanted ride and was a bit freaked out.  I am just happy no one was hurt.

Actually there was some decent powder in the protected areas you just had to be selective on what you skied.  My friend got a picture of the slide.

Posts: 1400

Re: March 30, 2014, Castle Saddle avalanches
« Reply #3 on: 03/31/14, 10:04 AM »

1st picture classic . I 've seen that happen umpteenth times at that exact same spot !

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