Cayuse Pass is opening tomorrow, May 3, 2012 at Noon! TGIF! Washington’s Cayuse Pass summit is located at the junction of State Routes 123 and 410 at 4,675ft (and just five miles west of the Chinook Pass summit which remains closed). Seems like it didn’t take our WSDOT crews very long to clear this one even though the snow was 30ft deep in places. The stretch of road to be re-opened is between the gates on SR 410 just south of Crystal Mountain Boulevard and on SR 123 at the Mount Rainier National Park entrance. That amounts to eight miles of SR 410 and nearly 14 miles of SR 123 that’s been untouched all winter until now. Cayuse Pass connects to Chinook Pass and White Pass on the east side of Mount Rainier National Park so there is plenty of backcountry terrain. WSDOT asks everyone to stick to what’s open and not venture beyond the closed gate towards Chinook Pass which is still closed. As of 4/30, WSDOT was still performing avalanche control beyond the closures (after our latest spring storm which dumped 15″ of snow on Snoqualmie Pass on 4/29 alone). WSDOT is working to have Chinook Pass open before Memorial Day weekend. Mt. Rainier’s website has the opening scheduled for May 21st! Keep checking back for updates. Enjoy the blue bird, 65 degree weather tomorrow and please note that the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center issued a special statement today due to increased avalanche danger as a result of the warm up. Be safe out there. Live to ski another day.
One of our good friends, Cory Tarilton, sent this sweet edit over recapping Timmy Taussig’s PNW season. Timmy is one of Cory’s main touring partners, so a lot of these shots are taken in the Mt. Baker (zone) backcountry. They got a cool shot of a talus field just off of the Mt. Baker highway that had just enough snow on the rocks for Timmy to rip the pillow field.
Yesterday was a sleeper pow day for sure up here on Snoqualmie Pass. I was just going to get some work done all day then head out for an evening walk up Hyak with Trooper dog. Well that all changed fast because of puking snow that was rapidly stacking up and my friend Robert Hammond who gave a shout, letting me know he was heading up looking to ski all day. By the time we skied our last lap of the nob of Hyak, the snow seemed to be pushing knee deep. Awesome Spring, now I’m wanting the one week of sun the weather experts are forecasting, so Alpental’s fresh 11″ and 15″ of snow at the base and summit, respectively (in the last 24hrs) will have a chance to bake down by the Cinco de Mayo weekend. Oh, and did I mention, that’s 11″ and 15″ on top of the 12″+ in the prior 24 hrs at the top of Alpental?!!
Below is a super short video of yesterday’s conditions, which seem to be even better this morning… Looking like a late start for work today!
We’re going into the last day of April 2013 and yet the National Weather Service has just issued this winter storm warning for SNOqualmie Pass -and West Slopes Central Cascades and Passes of Washington. It’s aPOWcalyptic out there!
Winter Storm Warning Issued: 8:34 PM Apr 29 Will Expire: 5:00 AM Apr 30
URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE …SNOW WILL CONTINUE IN THE SNOQUALMIE PASS AREA TONIGHT…
* ACCUMULATIONS…AROUND 9 INCHES OF SNOW HAD FALLEN TODAY BY 8 PM. ANOTHER 3 TO 6 INCHES IS POSSIBLE. * SNOW LEVEL…AROUND 2500 FEET. TRAVEL OVER SNOQUALMIE PASS WILL TAKE LONGER.
Looks like the National Weather Service was spot on with their forecast for the West slopes of Washington’s Cascade Mountains. TNT reports there was a good half foot of fresh on top of Hyak and certainly more on the top of Alpental at the Summit at Snoqualmie this a.m. And as you can tell from the photo: OMG, it’s really dumping now. Our Washington spring skiing just keeps getting better…
UPDATE: check out this very short video of the hail coming down in the foothills, lowlands in Issaquah, WA at around 5:30pm today…before it moved up to Snoqualmie Pass where it’s really puking now- see in the photo below.
Hey, it’s almost May but mother nature could care less. Check out the forecast for the West slopes of the Central Cascades of Washington: up to 7″ of new snow by tomorrow night with snow levels dropping to 2500ft. Alpental at the Summit at Snoqualmie, WA is open today and reporting the deepest lift served snow in N. America!! 178″ deep at the summit and 89″ at the base. With sun still in the forecast for next Sat. and Sun. and snow levels rising back up to around 10,000ft, we’re expecting a spectacular turn out for Alpental’s final Cinco de Mayo weekend. Be sure to join us – it’s going to be FUN! In the meantime, those planning backcountry trips, please take note of the special statement from the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center below – it was issued this past Friday 4/26 to alert back country travelers to this potential unseasonably strong front. As of this writing, there have been no updates but do check NWAC’s site if you have plans to head out. Live to ski another day!
New storm slab on Sunday night and Monday at higher elevations above the snow level in areas with little wind. Temperature variations during storms and rapid loading of more than about an inch of snow/hour generally help form storm slab layers which are possible on various aspects. Crust layers from the warm weather this week may act as a bed surface. Watch for natural avalanche avalanches in steep terrain with little wind.
Even though snow levels should remain cool throughout the PNW on Monday with mainly cloudy skies for the west slopes and Mt. Hood, strong solar input this time of year will destablize new storm snow nonetheless during the day!
New wind slab on Sunday night and Monday on lee slopes at higher elevations above the snow level in areas with wind. This should be mainly north to southeast aspects. Watch for signs of wind transport and firmer wind affected snow.
The main snow and hence the main avalanche danger increase should be near and west of the crest on Sunday night and Monday but all areas should be affected. Again weather conditions are not expected to be significant Saturday and through the daylight hours on Sunday. This statement is meant to alert anyone with plans to be out Sunday night and Monday.
This post comes at a sad time due to the recent Loveland Pass, CO avalanche. I was actually in the midst of chopping up massive amounts of video from Colorado when that avalanche took the lives of five mountain brothers on April 20th in the Sheep Creek drainage of Loveland Pass. Two nights ago I read the official report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center ( CAIC ) and I have to say it was very upsetting to learn the details of the incident (as they always are). As I read the report of snow conditions/snowpack (summarized below), I realized that some of the clips I had been chopping up contained footage pertinent to their snow assessment and thus, worth sharing here. It’s footage we captured of Alaska heli skiing pioneer, Dean Cummings, demonstrating “Hasty Pits” – a quick snow pit to help analyze snow structure and stability. This is worth watching to see the CO snow (as seen in early Feb.) which was one of the main factors in this tragic event, along with getting a quick glimpse of Dean’s on the move/real time snow assessment techniques. This will be the first short video in a series of Dean Cummings’ “Steep Life” episodes.
Here’s a summary of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s avalanche report (but urge you to read the full report for more details): 4 splitboarders, 1 approach ski/snowboarder and 1 rando skier left the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Gathering at Loveland ski area on 4/20 and entered the Sheep Creek drainage from the old Summer road at Scotty’s corner which put them slightly above the the drainage and below the bottom pitch of peak 13,152′. As the final 4 members were crossing the open slope (apx 50′ apart) heading for the small stand of trees that 2 other members had already reached, they heard/felt the collapse of the slope. At that time the 4 still on the open slope ran for the stand of trees; seconds later the crack had propagated up the hill releasing the deep slab that was 800 feet wide and extended 600′ up, and the entire group was engulfed pushing them 5 to 20 feet down into the Sheep Creek drainage. The rando skier was the only one in the group who came to rest close to the surface with his lower left arm free and able to clear the snow from his face. Even though he cleared the snow and could breathe, he was unable to move and remained pinned for 4 hours until the search party arrived. All of the victims were recovered after a beacon/probe search, the last victim was recovered 10 to 12 feet below debris. It was also mentioned in the report that at least 2 members of the group were wearing avalanche airbags, but neither were deployed. Other members were wearing Avalungs, but none were found in their mouths.
Once again, our deepest sympathies to all family and friends of those lost in this tragedy.
Another good one from Carl Simpson and the gang out of their stomping grounds, Crystal Mountain, WA. The late season powder video was taken this past April 16th and 17th and since then even more fresh snow has fallen. Things are looking good in the Cascades for late Spring fun. Looks like this weekend they might get even a few more flakes.
It’s official: Alpental has announced that it will be open for skiing next weekend and also Cinco de Mayo weekend! Alpental has a full day of fun events planned for 5/5 so mark your calendars and see you there. With Mt. Baker ski area now closed, Alpental has the #1 deepest snow in N. America amongst ski areas with lift service, albeit weekends only. Alpental has 95″ of snow at the base (elevation about 3,000′) and 191″ at the summit. With no major spring snow storms on the horizon, we think it’s safe to say we’ll be skiing and riding the deepest snow in N. America on Cinco de Mayo.
P.S. All other areas at the Summit at Snoqualmie are now closed.