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11/24/17, 01:33 AM

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| | |-+  SmithBrook -> Union Gap 1/22/17
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Author Topic: SmithBrook -> Union Gap 1/22/17  (Read 1379 times)
AG_pnw
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SmithBrook -> Union Gap 1/22/17
« on: 01/22/17, 09:34 PM »

Toured up towards union gap out of smithbrook under light snow and 32 deg. Talked to some folks on the way up that said towards Rainy Pass up off the road on a 32 deg slope got a large propagation 75 cm down and chose to ski lower slopes...good to know.

At about 4300' on SE slope started to feel whoomping underfoot, kept going and felt it again. Stopped and dug a pit before going any higher. ECTP3 at about 75cm, backtracked and dug another in slightly different aspect and same result, skied back down to the road and did some laps on lower slopes.

Once back down heard hoopin and hollerin coming down from union gap jumping off the pillows. Thought, huh, wonder what they found up there. Tried to engage in some dialogue and told them what i found on the slope they just skied (they caused no slides). Said they were up in the gap area and backside and only managed some 6" sluffs and nothing coming back down the SE slopes towards Smithbrook, they didn't dig and said it was all stable.

Maybe it was just the area I dug or up higher the crust was stronger and bonded to the storm/wind slab; but I just wasn't feeling it. Looked good for those guys coming down. Warmer ~ 33 and wet snow at trailhead.
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haggis
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Re: SmithBrook -> Union Gap 1/22/17
« Reply #1 on: 01/23/17, 09:58 AM »

Coulda woulda shoulda.  You made the right call.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: SmithBrook -> Union Gap 1/22/17
« Reply #2 on: 01/23/17, 11:06 AM »

Indeed. It is possible that both groups made 'good decisions' based upon the information that they had gathered. Both the extent to which people gather/observe information and the way in which people interpret that information can vary tremendously.

Wumphfing is a clear indicator of concern. ECTP3 strongly suggests propensity for propagation, too. The corroboration with another party's observation sure builds a case for caution. NWAC observers' statements of sensitive slabs adds even more.

Suppose you had decided, with the added information that others had skied the slope, to head back up and into avalanche terrain -- would you have been surprised if it slid? Would your friends/family have thought you made a good decision?

The decision to choose a more-conservative (and hopefully still fun) option for the day sounds wise to me. Human lives tend to be long, if we're careful with them.
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natefred
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Re: SmithBrook -> Union Gap 1/22/17
« Reply #3 on: 01/23/17, 11:51 AM »

Curious what the slope angle was where you did your ECT's & whether slab showed signs of sliding in addition to propagation. Either way I wouldn't have messed about either based on the info you've reported.

Sounds like something to keep an eye on, so thanks for the PSA.
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AG_pnw
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Re: SmithBrook -> Union Gap 1/22/17
« Reply #4 on: 01/23/17, 04:36 PM »

The tests were performed at 4300', uphill from the smithbrook road. Yes the slab showed signs of sliding, after 2nd test failure and propagation one more tap caused the slab to slide off clean.

Thanks for the feedback. My partner and I had no intentions of touring higher in the avy zone, even after the other group's claim of stable conditions and seeing them ski the slope, I was spooked.

Hopefully it settles out this week, but conditions are still quite variable with the wind and storm slabs and "touchy in pockets" as nwac puts it...i would agree.
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natefred
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Re: SmithBrook -> Union Gap 1/22/17
« Reply #5 on: 01/24/17, 08:54 AM »

Calling a slope stable after doing nothing but skiing it and not triggering an avalanche is technically accurate but meaningless in the absence of other information, yet you hear people make the proclamation all the time. I know I've been guilty of it occasionally when under the influence of powder euphoria, while not really knowing how close conditions were to being "not stable."

"I may have just dodged a bullet!" doesn't roll off the tongue as nicely, so you don't hear people say it as often.

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podenski
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Re: SmithBrook -> Union Gap 1/22/17
« Reply #6 on: 01/24/17, 02:00 PM »

Yes, as Bruce Tremper has written, they're playing Russian roulette with a 100 chamber revolver and 95% of the time they live to ski another day ....


Calling a slope stable after doing nothing but skiing it and not triggering an avalanche is technically accurate but meaningless in the absence of other information, yet you hear people make the proclamation all the time. I know I've been guilty of it occasionally when under the influence of powder euphoria, while not really knowing how close conditions were to being "not stable."

"I may have just dodged a bullet!" doesn't roll off the tongue as nicely, so you don't hear people say it as often.


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