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Author Topic: January 18, 2016, Snoqualmie Pass  (Read 2390 times)
Charlie Hagedorn
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January 18, 2016, Snoqualmie Pass
« on: 01/18/16, 04:41 PM »

Erik had never been the long way up the road into Kendall, so we gave that a spin, expecting crusts from a few reports and spooky conditions from the avy forecast. Plans for pit-digging and snow-geekery were dashed by downright good snow.

Skied sheltered/shady southern slopes all day. First lap saw us working ridgelets hard for safe touring. Subsequent laps stayed within our green-lighted terrain, but got somewhat more brazen. Nothing substantial moved all day. Light sluffs on steepest terrain, grippy edging, and great sunshine made for super fun. Steep open slopes on other aspects looked fantastic, but we stuck to the ruled-out plan.

Snow: 0-15 cm new snow, increasing with elevation. Snow was dense but velvety. No serious profiles dug, but hand pits didn't find any prominent surface hoar (we stuck entirely to solar aspects).

Avalanche: Plenty of small natural crowns on steep slopes, all aspects. No crowns larger than a foot were apparent anywhere, and most looked smaller than that. Perhaps Sunday's snow buried them?  We found some windslab here and there, but avoided what we found. The primary observed safety concern became tree bombs, which were moderately active and occasionally large.

Weather: Lightly-filtered sun, with light winds. Seemed like the pass itself was below clouds much of the day. At the ridgecrest, winds were easterly.

Returning to the car, most sunny slopes below ~4k had a loud unsupportive crust that wasn't there in the morning. The Gold Creek sno-park had at least twice as many snow pilgrims as I've ever seen there.



* ErikFindingTheLightTAY.jpg (191.35 KB, 800x647 - viewed 1151 times.)
« Last Edit: 01/18/16, 05:06 PM by Charlie Hagedorn » Logged

Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: January 18, 2016, Snoqualmie Pass
« Reply #1 on: 01/18/16, 05:27 PM »

Thermometer tells the weather story: Nearly the same temperature top to bottom, and plenty sunny (the measured temperature spikes whenever the sensor and backpack are exposed to prominent sunshine).


* SnoqualmieJanuary182016Temperature.jpg (140.56 KB, 800x498 - viewed 1119 times.)
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kamtron
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Re: January 18, 2016, Snoqualmie Pass
« Reply #2 on: 01/18/16, 05:42 PM »

Hi Charlie, I'm not surprised you didn't find hoar in hand pits. We found it was a solid 20-30 cm down on Saturday and probably much deeper since then. We didn't notice activity on that layer, either, just in the storm snow. It could also be that the solar aspect (as noted) and low elevation kept you away from the SH pockets, too.

Glad you got some good turns and sunshine up there!
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pipedream
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Re: January 18, 2016, Snoqualmie Pass
« Reply #3 on: 01/18/16, 06:56 PM »

Up the valley in the Alpental backcountry I found it easy to release cohesive slabs confined to the recent storm snow on steep convexities and observed lots of debris in the gullies between the main knolls and exits from Stokes bowl.

Perhaps the different aspect (NE vs. south-facing) had something to do with it? Twas nice to see the sun Smiley
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Moral of story is don't ski when you can snowboard
Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: January 18, 2016, Snoqualmie Pass
« Reply #4 on: 01/18/16, 07:01 PM »

Good point, Kam.  In a couple of spots, I dug into rolls/stumps/etc that would've reached a 50-cm layer, but no deeper.  Not sure how deep Erik might've dug.

Your comment's gotten me pondering precisely where during the day we might've dug in a more targeted fashion. We toured all day on supportable snow less-than-boot-depth down, which may have been the warmer/denser snow. It's possible that we simply skied over it all, though we did ski emphatically at times and cross plenty of steep test slopes without result.

I think we'd have needed four or five quick profiles in the space of less than a thousand vertical feet to have done a reasonable hunt on various micro-aspects today. That would have been reasonable, expedient, and interesting today, given NWAC's forecast.
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ErikT
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Re: January 18, 2016, Snoqualmie Pass
« Reply #5 on: 01/18/16, 09:00 PM »

I did not dig deeply enough to find a layer "~50 + Sunday snow" down... pole penetration was much further than that, and quick visuals into those didn't reveal anything obvious, but I'd be surprised if that proved an effective method of looking for such a layer. I think our choice of aspect kept us away from the P.W.L., and the abundance of good snow kept us from seeking it out in isolated pockets where we might have found it. Small north facing steep rolls into creeks could have been found, and might have been interesting, but ultimately wouldn't have affected our travel choices much today.

We did note 1-3" windslab at ridge top, built during westerly flow, but evidence of both westerly and easterly were abundant. Interesting to hear of storm snow being active so close by... we didn't find any issues with storm slabs, and as Charlie noted, we did ski some fairly steep (short) slopes. Only a handful of crowns on steeps nearby... expected more.


* 20160118-DSC06209.jpg (204.36 KB, 800x533 - viewed 979 times.)

* 20160118-DSC06140.jpg (237.75 KB, 800x550 - viewed 973 times.)
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silaswild
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Re: January 18, 2016, Snoqualmie Pass
« Reply #6 on: 01/18/16, 10:32 PM »

Nearby we found fog to 3500', blue skies with some clouds higher, east breeze (only on ridge crest), candy shell crust on open slopes below 4000', and soft but dense 6" powder above there on open south and west facing slopes. Tree bombs and drips had made craters and icy slopes. The views were nice in contrasty light!  Nice illustrations Erik.
« Last Edit: 01/18/16, 10:35 PM by silaswild » Logged
Jim Oker
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Re: January 18, 2016, Snoqualmie Pass
« Reply #7 on: 01/19/16, 08:32 AM »

Surprisingly good turning snow with the exception of the heavily tree-bombed/dripped forest in the 4K-5K zone - I found the forest generally less bombed/dripped above, and softened enough by warmth below to also be quite fun. THe candyshell crust in the open made noise but was not too bad either. Good fun chasing the senior and his sitter all day; I was loving the light in the mid-afternoon; very layered cloudscape with great blues and grays.
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