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NWAC Avalanche
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| | |-+  December 31, 2015 - Mt. St. Helens - Soft Slabs
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Author Topic: December 31, 2015 - Mt. St. Helens - Soft Slabs  (Read 1518 times)

Posts: 10

December 31, 2015 - Mt. St. Helens - Soft Slabs
« on: 01/01/16, 09:07 AM »

A happy and safe 2016 tour season to all...

Access road to MSH is in good condition with the usual over-flow of snowmobile rigs on a snowy holiday week and weekend.

Toured Swift Creek to 4500' and wind strength increased the higher one moved above treeline. Over the previous 24 to 36 hours, a cold and strong east/north-east wind has been moving a great deal of snow around and creating variable slab conditions due to the variety of slope angles. The wind banners were spectacular to watch during the skin up.

More wind last night and today' forecast (Friday), still calling for winds in the 25+ mph range and below freezing temperatures. May have a chance to tour higher and re-evaluate on Sunday.

The south side of Mt. St. Helens has a tendency to stabilize fairly quickly after new snowfall. At the same time, I'm always very respectful of the evidence of powder avalanche destruction that's visible once you leave the trees and begin crossing the boulder field leading to Chocolate Falls. Over the last half dozen years, young new trees have started to fill in and the damage is no longer so visible. More damage is also visible above Chocolate Falls in the drainage that's to climber's right of Swift Creek. 

After the past 4 seasons of Junuary skiing on MSH, I need to remind myself that this is a brand new year with completely different conditions and risks that are constantly changing.

Cheers and be safe out there in all that you do...


Posts: 310

Re: December 31, 2015 - Mt. St. Helens - Soft Slabs
« Reply #1 on: 01/01/16, 09:22 AM »

Originally planned on lapping Monitor Peak.  It was obvious that wasn't going to happen after breaking out of the trees and seeing the snow plumes billow hundreds of feet in the air off the ridge.  Just to satisfy my curiosity I did nose over that way off the main climbing route.  Everything was crazy cross loaded.  Scary.

Toured up to about 5500K on the main route before the wind finally sent me packing. I was almost blown off my feet several times.  The ski down climbers left of the route was uneventful on a mix of wind scoured and pockets of wind blown powder.  All in all nice to be out in so much snow and sun, but the wind made for a short day.
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