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Author Topic: February 15, 2015, Stevens  (Read 1268 times)
Charlie Hagedorn
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February 15, 2015, Stevens
« on: 02/16/15, 07:25 AM »

Beautiful clear day; if it's visible from Stevens, it was visible yesterday.

It's an oddity to do avalanche-course field days in such snowpack conditions, but our final field day taking a Northwest Mountain School AIARE-2 course made lemonade from lemons.

Our day kicked off with the icy booter to the top of Cowboy, then rambled Cowboy's southwest side for the rest of the day. Some of the terrain back there rivals the Alpental backcountry for complexity; explore with caution.

Skiing was good on sun-softened aspects when contiguous snow could be found. Our goals focused more on examining terrain, discussing risk, and practicing companion rescue than on hunting turns, so we rambled and traversed a lot. Good snow can be found all along the sunny aspects of the Stevens massif, but don't expect to get more than 500-1000' of vertical before you start running low on snow. In the shade, plan for very firm/slippery conditions; both Susan and I missed our sitting-at-home whippets in the morning.

The morning's ~5-10 cm supportable crust almost broke down on solar aspects under the heat of the day; where the crust failed, boot penetration was 20+cm. 3/3 test profiles on varied aspects in the flats at 5k on Cowboy's SW side found moderate resistant results in compression tests on an obvious crust/large-grain boundary 30 cm down.

Thank you Adam, Brandon, Carrie, Dallas, Harlan, Jordan, Patrick, Olyvia (keeping the show running!), and Susan for a fun and valuable experience in a challenging year. 
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pipedream
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Re: February 15, 2015, Stevens
« Reply #1 on: 02/16/15, 11:47 AM »

Well that would explain why I saw Dallas schussing down beneath Skyline in the late afternoon... probably not a whole lot of layers to examine, huh?
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Moral of story is don't ski when you can snowboard
Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: February 15, 2015, Stevens
« Reply #2 on: 02/16/15, 12:07 PM »

Harlan led our group for the latter 3 days of the course. We dropped back into the area ~4pm along Skid Road. If you saw Dallas, perhaps he was out skiing in the sun? Smiley.

Snowpack-wise, I've been surprised how much stratigraphy has been preserved in our snowpack in the face of all of this rain, something apparent even at Snoqualmie a few weeks ago.

From Stevens yesterday, though we didn't do full profiles: A bunch of ~2-5mm icy crusts in the upper snowpack are quite stout, requiring deliberate saw-work to get through. Between several of them are melt-forms of proto/post-faceted grains at 1F or softer. In the bottom 50 cm, you'll find two or three prominent storms from early season, each with substantially-different grain sizes.

Grab a shovel, dig a pit (full depth is thigh-chest deep), clean the walls up nice and smooth; the stratigraphy may jump out at you.

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pipedream
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Re: February 15, 2015, Stevens
« Reply #3 on: 02/16/15, 01:27 PM »

I probably have my pro observers swizzled. I saw someone with a full, big pack and NWAC hat ski by while waiting for others at the top of Skyline ~4pm yesterday. I guess it could've been anyone, but it seemed odd to have that much gear for a daytrip on a sunny day with relatively little action.

I caught a chair with a lift attendant who was going to work for the evening shift. He asked if I'd been hiking lately and when I told him I hadn't, he said I'd missed out. His claim was everything on high was still soft, even the shaded, north-facing aspects. I don't doubt that sun-kissed aspects up high were soft yesterday, but I have trouble believing anything that didn't get appreciable solar warming wasn't set up rock hard.

Hoping to take the split for a walk this week(end), will dig a pit to see for myself. Surprised to hear the layers from late Dec. / early Jan. are still discernible.
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Moral of story is don't ski when you can snowboard
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