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| |-+  July 2015 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
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Author Topic: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above  (Read 3077 times)
Jonathan_S.
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July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« on: 07/24/15, 06:10 PM »

Pictures here:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.942902549084326.1073741846.137097509664838&type=3

Quick summary here:
- Still ~1,000' vertical skiable above Palmer.
- Access to the Palmer is okay at any hour of the day (albeit with some caveats).
- Downhike from the snow is only twenty minutes at a decent trot with trail runners (albeit not really running).

Attempt at informative beta here:
- After the paved road/trail ends ~1/3 of the way to the snow, although the signs says the road is only for vehicles, nobody seems to care.  (Overall I think the road is most efficient on the way down, and the various use trails are best for the way up, but not much of a difference.)
- The Lower Palmer is pretty much deserted until around 11 in the morning, with nice snow too ... until the grooming starts up, maybe around 3:00 or so, when it gets chopped up by the snowcats in preparation for overnight grooming.
- The connection is very narrow between the Palmer lift mid-station and the bottom of the Upper Palmer training lanes.  Fortunately the snow is so junked up there that nobody is skiing very fast.  And it's relatively short, with a rope you can hug on your right.  On a few laps I had to wait by the side a few seconds for some bunched-up racers to go by, but it was only a temporary inconvenience (and more of a welcome excuse to stop for quick rest).
- Upper Palmer can be skinned either on the far skinner's left on the edge of the Public Lane, or the far skinner's right, between the last of the training lanes (most of which were empty) and the jibonker Windell's lane.
- Above the Palmer can be reached from either of those routes, i.e., from a convenient snow ribbon starting at the top of the lift, or from an equally convenient snow ribbon starting at the top of the jibonker lane just before the angle traverse cutting across the top of all the training lanes.
- The White River Glacier is very obviously distinguishable from the inactive shoulder/snowfield(/whatever) to the skinner's left, with just one possible exception of a section down, so just don't get *too* carried away with wandering about.
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john green
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #1 on: 07/25/15, 11:23 AM »

Couldn't get your FB link to work, but thanks for the detailed trip report!

I talked to the ski desk on Monday and they seemed rather depressed about the snowpack.  Apparently they had just lost 2 feet of base on Sunday.

While they were confident they could make it through this week (and they have), they warned that soon lift operations would be on a "day-by-day" basis. 

1000 feet of skiing above Palmer?  Where the heck are they hiding that?
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Jonathan_S.
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #2 on: 07/25/15, 11:47 AM »

While they were confident they could make it through this week (and they have), they warned that soon lift operations would be on a "day-by-day" basis.
Maintaining the connection from the bottom of the Upper Palmer race training lanes to the lift mid-station entails a very costly snowcat effort to scrape off large amounts of snow from the Upper Palmer and push it all down onto the connection.
And only about half the training lanes were even in use.
So I suspect they're continuing to operate only to keep up goodwill with the various race camps for future seasons.

1000 feet of skiing above Palmer?  Where the heck are they hiding that?

This picture from the road shows it reasonably well:



So essentially to the looker's left and slightly above what looks like a triangular rock outcropping in the middle of the White River Glacier.
(Note that even if you were crazy enough to ski the glacier's headwall, the snow is not continuous to there, despite how it looks in the picture.)
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rlsg
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #3 on: 07/25/15, 04:06 PM »

Thanks for the informative report..btw how is the surface above Palmer snow field--sun cups, bumpy, smooth, nice..etc.?
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john green
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #4 on: 07/25/15, 04:39 PM »

If I understand it, you're talking about the strip between the glacier and the hog back.  You're skiing to the west (looker's left) as close as you can get to the bare strip down the middle, and in most years is narrower and zig zaggy.  Do I have this right?

There's a heavily-used climbing camp to the west of that triangle--perhaps a bit lower--which is at roughly 9200 ft.  Last year, the descent from this area, letting the fall line take you slightly to the east corner of the ski permit area, was good into Aug without a hint of suncuppiness.  2-3 inches of hero slough on top of soft corn.

If that is the line, then I'm guessing you're talking about the severe descending crevasses just to the east (looker's right) where the glacier breaks free of the plateau.  I would tend to avoid this area also, since a school bus could fit easily into one of those.

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Jonathan_S.
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #5 on: 07/25/15, 05:03 PM »

Thanks for the informative report..btw how is the surface above Palmer snow field--sun cups, bumpy, smooth, nice..etc.?
Mix of Fair & Good -- although by my fifth lap on Thursday afternoon, it improved to Very Good by following my same smoothed-out route over and over again.
(So bring lots of friends and follow each other's tracks!)

If I understand it, you're talking about the strip between the glacier and the hog back.  You're skiing to the west (looker's left) as close as you can get to the bare strip down the middle, and in most years is narrower and zig zaggy.  Do I have this right?
Yes, we seem to be referencing the same terrain, except I would describe it as a strip/shoulder/ridge to the west (looker's left) of the White River Glacier "proper" (which really seems to reside only in the canyon), well below Crater Rock (and therefore even further below the Hogsback).
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Jonathan_S.
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #6 on: 07/25/15, 05:16 PM »

Annotated version should be attached now.


* Hood_annotated.jpg (129.46 KB, 719x367 - viewed 892 times.)
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john green
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #7 on: 07/26/15, 07:46 PM »

That's one heck of a Beta!  Thanks!

And why didn't you just ski green route all the way down?  The short hop?
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Jonathan_S.
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #8 on: 07/26/15, 07:58 PM »

The green route actually was solidly connected the entire way.
(Even though in the picture it does indeed look briefly discontinuous.)

I took the red route though because it connected with the groomer ~100' vertical higher up.
(I suppose for variety's sake I should have tried it both ways, but the red route was continuously improved by following my prior tracks.)
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john green
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #9 on: 07/31/15, 12:48 PM »

Timberline just announced that they're closing to the public after this Sunday (Aug 2).  There may in fact be additional ski camps going on the snowfield past that date.

Looking at the webcam, it looks like red route has been used to farm snow and has become a narrow and well-worn cat track, while green route really does look disconnected now.

In a different thread pics were posted of Aug 28, 2005, which looked oppressively bleak.  But on that year Timberline was able to stay open until Aug 18, more than two weeks longer than this year. Uggh. 

As said, the narrow canyon from Palmer mid to Palmer bottom is quite deep and if there's any snow left there will be good coverage.  So the skiable vert is still close to 1600 feet, if you include the strip.

My sympathy goes out to not just us for the lack of turns, but the many people whose livelihood and/or possible Olympic dreams depended on that snow.   
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kamtron
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #10 on: 07/31/15, 01:14 PM »

There's always the Southern hemisphere
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Jonathan_S.
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Re: July 22 & 23, 2015, Hood, Palmer & above
« Reply #11 on: 08/03/15, 10:53 AM »

Timberline just announced that they're closing to the public after this Sunday (Aug 2).  There may in fact be additional ski camps going on the snowfield past that date.

I called just now out of curiosity:  nope, no more race camps either, so no more Palmer lift operations for anyone ... and more importantly no more grooming either.
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