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| | |-+  Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
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Author Topic: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest  (Read 7907 times)
pipedream
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Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« on: 03/31/14, 02:06 PM »

Year after year the Mt. Baker Splitfest continues to deliver. No matter the weather, the company is always good and it's nice to see the splitboarding community turn-out in droves to support NWAC and other essential informational and SAR services. This year was by far the wettest splitfest, with 34F snow, heady winds and poor visibility greeting participants as they headed out from Heather Meadows on Saturday morning. About a foot of heavy new snow fell throughout the day on Sat. followed by a slightly lighter (but by no means blower) foot over Sat. night. While the winds decreased Sunday morning, the clouds hung around until the late afternoon, relegating most folks to the Swift Creek drainage or short laps in the 10 minute trees / Grandma's area. A few folks even got after it inbounds Sunday morning, showing the ticket-buying crowds how to get it done without spending a dime.

I forgot to set my alarm for Sat. morning and awoke around the time I was hoping to be hitting the road. I hastily packed my bags and headed north through the sideways rain, barely able to maintain the speed limit on the freeway before hopping off to take SR-9 in Burlington. The wind and rain began to let-up around Acme and by the time I reached Glacier, the sun was peeking through a break in the clouds. I missed my crew at HM and instead headed-up with a group of newbies, making conversation and feeling like a superstar even with my slow uphill pace. At the gate near Austin Pass, I ran into a group of familiar faces and with a brief break in the clouds and increase in visibility we decided to make an attempt at Artist Point. We made it up the first steep pitch from the road above the Blueberry Chutes before the weather socked back in and we were forced to retreat back down next to our skin track and into Swift Creek. Along the creek we ran into dozens of folks in groups both large and small. We chased the tails of some industry folks up the other side of the drainage and had a fun, albeit short, lap off the backside of Gunner's Bowl. Soaked through to the core, we climbed out of the drainage and headed back down the cat track to the cars.

The only picture I took on Saturday:


Back in town, the rain had subsided and the sun made an appearance just long enough to dry the skins and most of the gear. Having learned our lesson from previous years, we snagged a table at Chair 9 early and made sure to place our dinner order ASAP. Between the four of us, we downed an entire 16" pizza, large order of nachos, and cheesy bread. Then there was the beer: by the time the raffle was over, we'd gone through a pitcher of every beer on tap (all six of 'em). How the total damage came out to $30 / person, I don't know. Magic, I suppose. We retired to our campsite next door at the RV park and swilled down most of a case of Vitamin R and the remainder of a fifth of whiskey.

Raffle crowd:


The rain picked-up overnight and I was glad to be in the back of my dry and relatively cozy car instead of a damp tent. Around 8am the campers began to stir and we headed over to Chair 9 for a hearty breakfast before hitting the road at 9. Despite the best efforts of some ill-prepared drivers, we were skinning out of HM by 10. We decided to take the cat track to the top of Pan Dome and drop into Swift Creek from the top of the Canyon for an amazing, all-whiteroom lap in the waist-deep snow to the drainage floor. From there, we ventured out to Huntoon Point and dropped an excellent NE facing line to the valley floor.

Group decision-making:


We broke trail back up the drainage and followed our skin track back out but dropped earlier, approx. from the switchback on the road below the point back into the drainage. At this point, the weather had warmed considerably, the snow had thickened and we were getting concerned about the stability, so we called it a day and headed back to the cars.

Swift Creek and Huntoon Ridge:


Two knolls away from the cat track, I had my first malfunction with my Spark R&D Magneto bindings where a piece of the toe ramp which holds the pins into the touring brackets went missing. Fortunately, I was able to use a ski strap to hold it in place and make it out to the cat track. As we transitioned for the last time, the clouds parted and we were treated to an incredible view of an untouched Bagley Lakes basin.



There were a handful of tracks on the east-facing slopes of Mt. Herman, including a set from the top. But there was also a few notable crowns, incl. a rather large one along the arm of Table mtn above Terminal Lake. Likely wind and storm slabs, they were on the exact aspects and started at the same elevations that NWAC predicted.

Shuskan came out to say "goodbye":


Full album: http://imgur.com/a/8SQBH
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hop
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #1 on: 03/31/14, 05:08 PM »

I know this event was a benefit for NWAC and SAR and so forth but I would be much more in favor of Splitfest if there was some sort of active bc safety/protocol/awareness component during the actual event, say perhaps by reading the avy report during the raffle or via the demo fleet where maybe you could only demo if you knew the current avy report or something.  There seemed to be a whole lot of dumb going on because it was Splitfest weekend.  Same sort of thing happens during LBS too but at least that event's not encouraging backcountry travel. 

There was one almost full burial in the Blueberry area (ended up ok heard from her afterwards) and it sounded like there was a mega-posse assault on the Arm where some folks allegedly couldn't even follow the skintrack w/o getting lost and one person got taken for a ride when the so-called "Safety Line" - what a stupid name for a line on the Arm - slid on them.  I didn't take a photo of the slide but it was very obvious today, not super deep (maybe 1'?) but propagated pretty wide for that zone and ran about half the height of the Arm. 

On the other hand I know a lot of my friends ended up with some pretty nice loot.  My neighbor won two splitboards!  Not a bad haul. 
« Last Edit: 03/31/14, 05:12 PM by hop » Logged

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pipedream
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #2 on: 03/31/14, 05:41 PM »

It was not a good weekend to ride big, exposed lines. I saw the crowns for both the slide you mentioned in the Blueberry area as well as the one on the Arm on my way out yesterday when the clouds parted.

There was an NWAC forecast discussion session on Fri. evening that I did not attend. I felt like I had a good grip on the conditions and I felt very comfortable exploring with the folks I toured with throughout the weekend. On the whole, I felt like most folks were making conservative decisions, actively discussing the conditions and voicing their concerns. We had one clenching moment on Sunday when we spied about an 18" crown line on a similar, but more open / less anchored aspect to what we were riding. While the line we took didn't move at all, we took it as a sign to GTFO.

One major thing I disagree with is renting avy equipment. It's one thing to have spare batteries and equipment lying around for someone who has an issue, but entirely another to be handing out avy rescue gear to folks with potentially no knowledge of how to use it. Additionally, the liability such a company faces when renting such equipment must be pretty high - if someone's lost in a slide with a rental beacon that malfunctions, it's lose-lose for everyone involved.
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nwboarder82
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #3 on: 03/31/14, 05:44 PM »

Not sure if you attended, but there was an NWAC briefing on Friday night. There was additional backcountry information brief followed right afterwards. They held a newbie clinic on Saturday. As far as the Blueberry Chutes incident, it was mentioned to avoid that aspect during the NWAC briefing. We had a resort staff member warns my group about that particular area on that cat track. From my perspective, it appeared majority of the splitfest attendees were in the Swift Creek area on both Sat and Sun. I thought the event well organized and placed enough emphasis on safety.
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hop
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #4 on: 03/31/14, 06:52 PM »

I didn't know about the Friday thing so that's good that it happened.  I would have liked to see something on Saturday too but I probably wouldn't have attended that either.  The zoo factor was high this weekend - Swift looked like an inbounds area today! 

Even though my first Arm lap many moons ago was with a rented beacon, I now agree 100% on not renting avy gear. 

While on the skintrack today I told some gearless kids hiking up from the top of 8 about the BC policy and why it's in place and suggested they turn around and go right back down the bootpack.  They continued on. 
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Kyle Miller
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #5 on: 03/31/14, 08:08 PM »

I thought I did a good good on Friday telling everyone to expect avalanches and ski cut everything before they rode it.

BUSY BUSY weekend.
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
hop
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #6 on: 03/31/14, 08:17 PM »

I thought I did a good good on Friday telling everyone to expect avalanches and ski cut everything before they rode it.

BUSY BUSY weekend.

I'm sure they'd listen to you as you're the PNW-based hero of Global Splitboarding.  I, however, am just a bitter and jaded freeheel skier.  Just ask your team manager!  Wink

BTW, shouldn't you be packing?
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Kyle Miller
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #7 on: 03/31/14, 08:43 PM »

HA!!!!!!! Damn globe trotting Free heel skiers!!

I fly out Wednesday afternoon so I will start packing Wednesday morning.

Was sad to hear you wouldn't be playing your sidehilling song.
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In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO HAPPEN....no matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............
freeski
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #8 on: 03/31/14, 09:49 PM »

Am i missing something here? Novice riders, rented avy gear, known avy hazard,go out and ski cut those ski lines, big crowds, nwac benifit, avy incidents. What?
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two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
hop
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #9 on: 03/31/14, 09:53 PM »

Am i missing something here? Novice riders, rented avy gear, known avy hazard,go out and ski cut those ski lines, big crowds, nwac benifit, avy incidents. What?

Nope, sounds like you got it 100%!
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bs.
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #10 on: 03/31/14, 11:33 PM »

Nope, sounds like you got it 100%!

you missed "white out visibility," and "wet slides into the road"!



we found the conditions manageable, and had fun partying in the rain.
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freeski
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #11 on: 04/01/14, 08:30 AM »

you missed "white out visibility," and "wet slides into the road"!



we found the conditions manageable, and had fun partying in the rain.
ah, add 'lack of vision' to the list. Got it.
« Last Edit: 04/01/14, 09:27 AM by freeskiguy » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
Jason4
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #12 on: 04/01/14, 09:41 AM »

Hop-
It was exactly the conditions I had hoped for during Splitfest and I actually wouldn't mind a little more rain during the LBS.  The lift lines were short while everyone was showing the ticket buying public how to skin up cat tracks and I was having a good time poking around with some of the guys who were in town for the festival but saw fit to buy tickets.  From your ranting I feel like I might be more risk tolerant than you are but I don't know if that's true in the real world.

Don't sell yourself short as a jaded free heeler...you're a very talented telepiner. Cheesy
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Fix your heel, fix your problem.
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joke
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #13 on: 04/01/14, 10:59 AM »

Does anyone have a picture of the crown on the safety line?  I would love to see that.  I've ridden down that line hundreds of times - many times in storms.  I haven't ever seen it move.  I'm hoping to be able to correct this thread in identifying exactly what the "safety line" is, but I could be wrong.
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Jason4
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #14 on: 04/01/14, 03:35 PM »

Does anyone have a picture of the crown on the safety line?  I would love to see that.  I've ridden down that line hundreds of times - many times in storms.  I haven't ever seen it move.  I'm hoping to be able to correct this thread in identifying exactly what the "safety line" is, but I could be wrong.

I think Hop already corrected this thread when he pointed out that there isn't a safe line on the Arm.  There are some better choices than others but to call them safe is a fallacy.
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hop
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #15 on: 04/01/14, 03:43 PM »

Does anyone have a picture of the crown on the safety line?  I would love to see that.  I've ridden down that line hundreds of times - many times in storms.  I haven't ever seen it move.  I'm hoping to be able to correct this thread in identifying exactly what the "safety line" is, but I could be wrong.

Hard to believe you've ridden that line 100s of times and never seen fractures out there.  Over the years I've seen just about every part of that line move.  

I didn't take any pics today either but you know that line on the Arm that everyone stupidly calls "safety line"?  The line that people ski in stormy whiteout conditions because it's the "safety line"?

Now imagine a crown going from the skier's left side of the upper bowl and propagating around farther left, almost to the chute that people call the nostril.  The debris ran down the flats to just about where the little chute that splits the icefall cliffs starts.  

Seems like most people that went down the gut to the ridge were fine, but one person decided to go just a bit left (I spent some quality time looking at the track leading into the fracture today) and got taken for a ride.  They were maybe 10' away from where everyone else was.

There were also tiny little skier-triggered slides coming from people dropping skier's left off the ridge as well.  Nothing big, but it seems "sportalanching" is a thing here and people don't really give the little ones the respect they deserve. 

I do have some nice photos of the line people call "1st safety line" with a skier-triggered 1'+ fracture that ran to the valley floor from the 26th.    

Jason: I'm just glad Splitfest was during the weekend and not the past two days.  Smiley
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Jason4
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #16 on: 04/01/14, 04:09 PM »

My desk has been very safe the last two days.   Roll Eyes
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Free your heel, free your mind.
Fix your heel, fix your problem.
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freeski
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #17 on: 04/01/14, 05:58 PM »

I don't think that it is fair to call posts that are educational 'rants'. Critical analysis is how we human's learn.      Lets not forget that 5  person fatality in Colorado  that occured during an avy awareness gathering. Many years ago the freeheel festival over here was held on a recently wind loaded slope and on  the Saturday of the event, was heavily skied. Warming was starting to occur and event organizer wisely chose to cancel Sunday's ski event. When i observed the area on Tuesday, the entire area had ripped out and all the ski tracks were gone. I've never seen that area, 1st bowl, cutthroath basin, go so big and i  have always respected that guide for making that 'right' call because it probably cost him some cash. Imo,  BC festivals are thick with human factor traps. 
« Last Edit: 04/01/14, 06:52 PM by freeskiguy » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
C Hedges
tim place
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #18 on: 04/01/14, 06:41 PM »


Even though my first Arm lap many moons ago was with a rented beacon ...


I remember a trip with "borrowed boots", the rented beacon is new to me!
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lojok
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #19 on: 04/01/14, 06:48 PM »

It's refreshing to read this thread. My friend and I had planned on heading to Splitfest for awhile and were stoked at the opportunity to tour the Baker area. Last week when we were watching the weather forecast and avy report we started to get a bit iffy - what if it's raining, what if avy conditions aren't something we are comfortable with, etc. On my way out of the door on Friday I texted my friend and suggested she bring her normal board "just in case" and I'm happy we did.

Neither of us wanted the pressure of HAVING to go out because we were there, had rented a place and wanted to go out. I listened to the avy talk on Friday and took what Kyle said to heart - you made a good point and it resonated. As I hung out at Chair 9 on Friday I heard people chatting, some of which (like me) had never toured the area and others who had never toured at all.

When it came down to it, and after considering our lack of familiarity with the area, the lack of visibility, avy conditions as well as the high volume of people that would be out (plus the volume of first timers), we decided the risk was more than we were comfortable with and opted for a lift ticket instead. When Sunday rolled around we did the same.

Am I bummed I didn't get to tour Baker and get shown around? Yes. Might we have been totally fine and had a blast? Yes. Did we have fun anyway in the good snow and barely-there lift lines? Absolutely.
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hop
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #20 on: 04/01/14, 08:01 PM »

I remember a trip with "borrowed boots", the rented beacon is new to me!

Yep, got it from the Outdoor Center at WWU.  Now that I think about it, putting an Ortovox F1 in the hands of someone that had only used them a handful of times before and calling myself good to go was pretty darn stupid of them... and me. 

By the time I had to borrow those boots I was well on my way to being a true expert, ready for the super film lines.  Wink
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pipedream
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Re: Mar 29-30, 2014, Mt. Baker Splitfest
« Reply #21 on: 04/01/14, 09:30 PM »

You weren't the kid using his skis as a bookshelf during the week, were you? Wink

lojok, you wouldn't have gained much familiarity with the area this weekend. The visibility was too poor to decipher much of anything and would've made it difficult to remember much of the terrain as it all more or less looked the same (gray with snowy trees)
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