A week ago this morning, Jeff Rich and company were taking the very somber detour around the Oso mudslide, as they were heading into the North Cascades for Ruby Mountain. The Oso Mudslide is such a tragic event that has taken so many lives (which the actual number is still unknown). My thoughts and prayers for all the families living though this nightmare (which is still taking place), so close to one of the most beautiful places I have been in the lower 48. If you would like to help our friends up in Oso, WA, just click this link to the RED CROSS right before you click play on Jeff’s video, that shows the epic zone which is found just beyond Oso, WA.
Last Saturday (3/22/14), The Summit at Snoqualmie held their second annual pond skim event, dubbed “Spring Splash”. Just like last year, the pond skim brought out droves of spectators taunting the skimmers to go faster for the big SPRING SPLASH! I wanted to give a shout out to the “Events Crew” for the cool “stadium style” venue they whipped out ( I say whipped out but having seen what it takes to push snow and put something together like this event, “whipped out” is quite the understatement). Also, a big Shout OUT for the brave little pond skimmers on 50mm underfoot skis and tiny snowboards, and our good friends the “T-Bagging Bandits” for rocking the slopes and plaza.
Below is a short edit, I put together capturing a little of the day of fun… Check it!
We’re having a hard time transitioning into spring. Another winter storm is underway. We’re looking at possible snow totals for the West slopes of the Washington Cascades of 18″ by tomorrow afternoon and 30″ by Sunday morning at elevations >4000ft or so. That will keep us firmly in the top #1 and 2 spots for the deepest snow base in N. America. Leading the nation is the King of Snow: Mt. Baker with a whopping 188″ at Pan Dome. Second place goes to our own Alpental at the Summit at Snoqualmie with 173″ at the summit. Neighboring western WA and OR resorts aren’t far behind. Tyler Tran sent this video over of the gang getting some turns up in the Baker zone yesterday, pre-storm. They spent the day up in the Swift Creek area, just out past Austin Pass, on what looked to be a pretty gwanchy day of skiing… But, it was skiing, and they were skiing the fresh . Just wait until tomorrow! It’s snowing nicely outside our Central Cascade headquarter windows right now (at 2,600’ above sea level, Hyak, WA), making for another excellent start to a Spring weekend if you stay nice and high. By the way, Seattle broke a record for rainfall in March (and it’s not over yet).
Super sweet self edit from G3 athlete, John Wells, filmed earlier this month at Kicking Horse, working the leftovers. When I say leftovers, you might think of beat up pow, but I’m thinking John’s lovin’ this place because his leftovers are high above the standard traffic, on isolated shelves and spines. Looks like KH serves up some nice corduroy too. Below are some notes John in regards to the sweet Spring stoke video!
This is the place. Hands down, Kicking Horse if you haven’t heard has terrain for days and every time I ski there I am continually blown away. I waited patiently for the whole winter to jump on a snow & sun window and it all lined up for mid- March.
The steeps had seen a good 3.5 feet of snow in the last week and the rock ramps and fingers were caked with a bounty of storm snow and had a couple days to set up before our 3 day shred-athon. Groomers were top notch, as usual, giving us nice warm-up and cool down laps of 4,000 feet of mint cruising vert.
Bob Sather and I (John Wells) stepped up and slayed what the powder hounds had left us, which was a shit load of amazing spines, fingers, cliffs, and deep pow. This was the moment I had been waiting for all season. Skiing these lines is a special thing for me, having put so much time into KHMR and its intricacy’s of rock ribs, chutes, and rock fins I truly go to another place while skiing, strictly from memory. My muscle memory takes over and I really focus on the speed and tech of it all, giving me a heightened state of gnar.
The only way to finish a day at KHMR is up at the Eagles Eye for a cocktail, to celebrate how rad you got, and or how rad it got you…..see ya next year KHMR ! A special thanks to Kicking Horse. Cheers John Wells
This past Friday the 21st, Jeff Rich, Jameson Florence and Chris Olsen were slaying the fresh at their home mountain of Stevens Pass (which you might remember being in the social media spotlight recently, for the planned avalanche control work on Rooster Comb and the near miss that took place on March 20th, in the Fluer de lis). In the short video below, Jeff and the crew get the Pencil Chute (a sweet line apx ¼ mile from the incident the day prior) & some, taking their time with safety and ski cuts in mind. Live to ski another day, and always know your limits!
Southwest backcountry from last Monday, with Chuck Freeman and company. This trip was to Heaven’s Hill, a classic zone outside the “Ski Santa Fe” ski area. Love this town and area, and it’s been a decade or so since I’ve been… We will have to get a “Four Corners” road trip planned in the future, knowing how many sweet SW ski areas there are in this part of country ( which also happen to offer a jump start for some excellent backcountry).
3/23/2014 UPDATE: NWAC report on this incident reads: Around 4:45 PM on Saturday afternoon 2 skiers and a dog descending the looker’s left (or skier’s right) avalanche path on the south side of Granite Mt (visible from I-90) triggered a slab avalanche that stepped down to a deeper slab. Upon review of crown photos (below) and conversations with local avalanche professionals from Snoqualmie Pass it seems most likely that the initial slab failure on this cross loaded path included the Wed/Thu storm snow and the second slab of similar depth included last Sun/Mon storm snow with the bonds between these layers weakened by strong solar input and potential melt water in the upper snowpack during the afternoon. The best estimate right now is that both slabs were at least 1 foot in depth. The skier caught and eventually killed in the slide left the ridgeline at about 5200 ft in elevation and skied onto a steep (40+ degrees) slope. The avalanche became a large and destructive wet slab funneling down to around 2300′, entraining increasingly saturated snow lower in the avalanche path and at times gouging to the ground. Initial size estimates are at least D3/R3. The other person was in a safe zone and not affected. The skier who was caught was buried under 20 feet of debris but was recovered Sunday morning by local search and rescue efforts. Another party of two lower on Granite was not caught and aided in the preliminary search efforts. We don’t believe the upper snowpack structure that led to this accident is common throughout the west slopes. However, we are increasingly concerned about wet snow avalanches on Monday, including those in isolated areas that could lead to wet slab avalanches. ORIGINAL POST 3/22/2014: We heard an avalanche close to home on Granite Mountain off i90 Exit 47 claimed the life of a backcountry skier yesterday. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the lost skier. The avalanche struck on the face of Granite, looker’s left – we were able to see debris all the way down to the waterfall. This is the same danger zone that released last year in early April and claimed the life of a climber. It’s a sad reminder to us all that conditions, while they look nice under the sun, can still be dangerous given the recent snowfall and warming temperatures. Learn more about avalanche safety and forecasts at NWAC.us and shop for avalanche classes and gear at proguiding.com.
Crystal Mountain’s Ski Patrol opened Powder Bowl just after 1pm today to hikers only with access along the west ridge (since the High Campbell Chair was taken out by an avalanche). Carl Simpson sent us some video of the goods waiting for those who made the hike. Looks like plenty of nice fresh lines and powder -over a foot of new snow fell last week so it was clearly worth the effort.
Our friend Joey Mara, sent this one over last night from his home mountain, Stevens Pass, showing the good “CHOKER” times found on the first day of Spring. I was out late yesterday (at another gem within the Cascade Crown of jewels), and the recent snow seen in Joey’s POV vid is still skiing very nicely. Looking like a great weekend to head to the mountains! If you are up at Stevens Pass today and want to check out something intense, the Nordic Center will be hosting a biathlon all weekend. Also, put the Retro Fool’s Day event on the calendar for April 12th!
NOAA just released their 2014 spring weather outlook. If they’re right, the entire West coast could see warmer and drier conditions than normal for the next three months. That’s bad news for drought stricken California which just experienced its warmest and 3rd driest winter in 120 years of record keeping.