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Author Topic: December 30, 2016, Smith Brook  (Read 1444 times)
Charlie Hagedorn

Posts: 1886

December 30, 2016, Smith Brook
« on: 12/30/16, 08:46 PM »

The plan was a short hike to a long lazy day at Yodelin, but turned into a long hike to a short lazy day in Smithbrook, thanks to the impressive parking debacle that Stevens Pass can be.  Stevens' parking lots at the pass summit filled by 9:22 am. Get to Yodelin before 9 am to be sure of your tour.

Stevens has a Twitter account for parking updates:  The lack of data coverage along Highway 2 makes the Twitter feed only marginally useful.

We scooted up the road for a while, aiming for some mellow trees we've often considered but never visited, when we encountered an astute skintrack in a place we'd not seen before. With nothing better to do, we followed it, met some new friends, then old ones.

We finally found our way to said trees, whereupon we both dug pits on a sheltered N-facing slope at 4600'. In both trees and open slopes, we found a weak layer that had easy/moderate CT results 20-30 cm down, and a prominent crust with a reasonable bond 70 cm down. On the whole, the snowpack was rightside up, but atypically for the PNW, it was never harder than 1F.  The 20-30 cm layer was unreactive in ECTs, though some test slopes showed planar fractures without much propagation. The surface snow on top was too fluffy to propagate, but might stiffen with time.

No fresh slides nor fresh crowns seen, even when pixel-peeping in photos at home. Snow in many places was almost willing to slide loose-dry in the top 10 cm, but never really got moving.

We found less wind-affected snow than expected, even near ridges. There were plenty of large tree-bombs lurking, but not dropping. The largest collection of them was, paradoxically, on a ridgeline. I kicked one off as a cornice-drop-like slope test; it wasn't hard to trigger.

Skiing was good, and occasionally excellent. Best snow was on steeper sheltered SW slopes. Susan used the word "smoke" once when describing those turns.

A good day out, even including the morning's traffic silliness.

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* NasonRidgesTAY.jpg (186.11 KB, 800x534 - viewed 845 times.)

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« Last Edit: 12/30/16, 09:33 PM by Charlie Hagedorn » Logged


Posts: 707

Re: December 30, 2016, Smith Brook
« Reply #1 on: 12/31/16, 01:48 AM »

I never could figure-out why Stevens migrated to Yodelin after the summit lots filed. Seems to me it would make more sense to start parking folks at the Nordic Center to give yourself more time to get the shuttles ready and then by the time you have folks parking in Yodelin you're mostly done shuttling folks all the way up from the bottom of Mill Valley and you only need to run a few more trips to Yodelin.

Then again, there are lots of things that don't make sense up there. Like why they established a pay lot years ago on weekends + holidays but refused to cater to carpoolers who waste precious time in the morning selflessly picking up others in order to minimize congestion and pollution. Glad the new lot they built this season on the north side of the highway accomplishes just that - not glad that they'll let you use it for $20 anyway. Seems to me like if you arrive after the non-carpool lots have filled, you should just rally down to Yodelin and grab enough other people to make parking in "Lot G" a possibility.

Stevens also offers steps to subscribe to their Twitter feed, which they mostly use for parking (but occasionally to blast everyone at 0630 about the oodles of new snow they've received), via SMS. Details about that can be found here:

Moral of story is don't ski when you can snowboard
Susan Ashlock

Posts: 50

Re: December 30, 2016, Smith Brook
« Reply #2 on: 12/31/16, 11:33 AM »

To add to Charlie's TR: 

We don't go to Stevens too often, in large part because of evening traffic.  We got a lazier start than usual (leaving Seattle at 7 a.m.), and the traffic in the morning on the way *to* Stevens was mind-boggling.   The stop-and-go traffic started right out of Monroe.   After a 20-minute stop in Monroe, it took us about 2.5 hours to get from Monroe to the Smith Brook TH.  The whole experience had me vowing to never be lazy again!
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