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NWAC Avalanche
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2007 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  December 2007 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  12/15/2007, Stevens Pass, Skyline Ridge
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Author Topic: 12/15/2007, Stevens Pass, Skyline Ridge  (Read 3666 times)

Posts: 21

12/15/2007, Stevens Pass, Skyline Ridge
« on: 12/15/07, 10:20 PM »

Jens and I made a quick trip to the top of Skyline Ridge this morning. Great snow...about 8 inches new at Stevens Pass and more than 18 inches on top of the ridge. Some instability evident on lee slopes above 5,000 feet. The best skiing was the south-facing clearcut between elev 4300 and 4800. There’s decent coverage now in this section although some terrain irregularities still exist. These should smooth out with a couple more feet of snow. - Boyd

Posts: 8

Re: 12/15/2007, Stevens Pass, Skyline Ridge
« Reply #1 on: 12/15/07, 11:30 PM »

I also hiked Skyline Ridge and up towards Cowboy Mountain today. Dug pits on the south and north slopes. South facing had 4-6 inches of wind-packed pow on top, then a thin ice layer, then mildly-striated but mostly bonded sugar for about 8 inches until you got down to the hard base from the early December rain. North slope had 18+ inches of dry uniform wind-load powder, and by 4pm there was still no warming or heaviness at or above 5500 ft on the surface of the snow. Under the 18 inches of fluff we found a hoar layer with 18 inches of sugar beneath. It did not take much disturbance to get that 18 inches of fluff on top moving on steep slopes, and it was so light that it was difficult not to get hip deep. I think the rock and tree anchors not too far beneath helped steady the pitches under the circumstances and we did not trigger any sloughs. Lots of White Room on the way down. Needed a snorkel.

I definitely agree with NWAC assessment that there is some risk as temperatures rose late in the afternoon and into Sunday. We saw some heavier surface layer at about 4900 feet or so, and if that warmth moves up any higher those 18 inches of fluff up top would become downright treacherous. I plan to stick to resort riding with the missus tomorrow. Be safe out there.
« Last Edit: 12/16/07, 12:00 AM by clintster » Logged
Charlie Hagedorn

Posts: 1914

Re: 12/15/2007, Stevens Pass, Skyline Ridge
« Reply #2 on: 12/16/07, 05:57 PM »

We were up there on the 16th, as high as the upper radio tower at 5k. A pit at the little clearcut by the upper tower - E facing, not terribly steep, still affected by trees beneath, was highlighted by easy shears of the upper 18-ish" at the _thick_ crust or just above it on a super thin icy layer (surface hoar?).  Shears didn't seem to have much "pop" to them, but released easily. The snow above the crust was cohesive enough to support a shovel-length/blade width bit of cantilevered snow when the snow/crust to the sides and below was excavated away. The snow below the crust seemed largely cohesive, if intricately layered. Does depth hoar come in densely packed forms?

A low angled rutschblock cut into, but not through, the crust failed at a very easy hop at or near the crust.

Nearly no instability noted while skiing the S facing semi-open but still brush-perforated slopes, just fun snow. At ~1 pm,  more exposed areas were becoming lightly wind-affected by the E wind.


Posts: 23

Re: 12/15/2007, Stevens Pass, Skyline Ridge
« Reply #3 on: 12/17/07, 12:29 PM »

A few of us were up there yesterday.  A hasty pit on the N. face of the ridge showed similar features to those described in other posts.  About 18-20" of low-med density snow on top of a few inches of very light snow/hoar frost and granular, all over the crust.  Sheer tests had the top 8" easy sheer with very irregular sheer surface, moderate sheer at the crust, again with an irregular surface.  However, isolated columns collasped without any added weight!  With more snow and and more cohesive surface layer, this seems ripe to make for some impressive slides.

We dropped in one at a time, and test cuts and jumps barely got any sloughing and no cracks or whumphs.  I even gave it my signature "over the tips, full-torso test crash" -- no sloughing, but delicious powder, Yum!

So, what to do except drop in as far as the creek, where the lower-angle grade made forward progress sssllloooowwww, follow it with laps in boot to thigh-deep light glory snow?  Occassional chest shots and isolated chin shots.  The first climb out was a workout.  The run back to the parking lot was great, although the road cuts snuck up on us a few times.  Fun day up there.  Be careful as the pack continues to build!
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