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| | |-+  December 5, 2015, Nason Creek - Lake Valhalla
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Author Topic: December 5, 2015, Nason Creek - Lake Valhalla  (Read 1859 times)

Posts: 96

December 5, 2015, Nason Creek - Lake Valhalla
« on: 12/07/15, 03:51 PM »

Posted this at for Central Washington skiers. Slow to post here but it might be useful for others monitoring the general Stevens Pass backcountry.

Saturday December 5: Matt Dahlgreen and I skied from the Yodelin parking lot up Nason Creek toward Lake Valhalla. The hope was to ski some of the small peaks rimming Lake Valhalla. In reality the underbrush, talus, and fallen logs along the valley floor of Nason Creek still need at least three times more snow to make for efficient travel (that probably translates into a well-established base of at least 30 inches). The going was so slow in the valley floor, we climbed up to the Pacific Crest Trail and followed it. At about the 3900-foot level, the snow made a big jump in plumpness -- in open areas lacking tree cover, we found about 18 inches of new snow that was upside down in terms of stability. The bottom snow was light and dry, while the top snow was heavy and wet. While traveling we hastily evaluated that snow in a half-dozen different places by using the handle-end of our ski poles to quickly isolate a column of new snow. The new snow would either slide on the underlying crust (about 18 inches down) or break about two inches above the crust in the lighter powder sitting on top of the crust. It took only the slightest of taps to get the new snow to slide or break.

It was a day with so much snow you needed steep ground to generate turns, yet one where even 30-degree slopes would have spooked me. We ended up skinning the Crest Trail which was more more like cross-country skiing than ski touring. It's not really what we had in mind, but it was still beautiful to be out in a legitimate snow storm. 

Posts: 147

Re: December 5, 2015, Nason Creek - Lake Valhalla
« Reply #1 on: 12/07/15, 07:40 PM »

Thanks for the info. There is definitely a mixed bag of snow layers and bonding (or lack of) in the Stevens pass vicinity. 

Today, December 7th,  I dug two profiles above the Skyline lift on NE and NW facing slopes above Grace lakes. Snow depths were 108cm and 135cm.  A 10cm thick crust was very apparent at 50cm.  ECT results were not reactive to that crust layer, with minimal movement of the current storm slab as well. 

My observations were taken in a slightly sheltered area and with rising temperatures since early yesterday.  I suspect the results reflect that.  With the report of the avalanche in Corona bowl, and the above post, I think a wide variety of conditions exist and careful terrain management and ongoing assessment are key!
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