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Snoqualmie Pass, WA – Mid Nov. Conditions Report

Snoqualmie Pa...

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Mt. Rainier, WA – Getting closer to the lot!

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Alpental, WA -Meet Chris Davenport at Verfest 2015!

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Mt. Baker, WA – Helioptrope Hot Laps

Mt. Baker, WA...

28
Apr

dot2013428Hey, 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.


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26
Apr

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.



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24
Apr

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.



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23
Apr

Gorgeous day up at Snoqualmie Pass today. Here are some views of Lundin Peak, Granite Mountain and Kendall clear cut as seen from the top of Hyak. Loads of corn snow and sun this week!

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22
Apr

cincobannerIt’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.

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20
Apr

The Associated Press reported today (Saturday, April 20) that 5 backcountry snowboarders were killed in an avalanche on Colorado’s Loveland Pass.



Georgetown, Colo. – Per a statement by Clear Creek County Sheriff, Don Krueger, six snowboarders were caught in the slide Saturday afternoon. The condition of the lone survivor was not released.


The Colorado Department of Transportation closed a highway as many skiers were headed home from nearby Arapahoe Basin ski resort.
Lisa Clarke Devore, who was headed back to Denver from the resort, told The Associated Press she saw a fire truck and ambulance on the pass, as well two search dogs headed into the area of the slide. She says she saw several ambulances, including one towing snowmobiles, headed toward the pass.
The pass, elevation of 11,990 feet, is popular among backcountry skiers and snowboarders.

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19
Apr

The Summit at Snoqualmie is still rocking the weekends this Spring, including one more weekend for Summit Central and the terrain park. Also, conditions are looking solid enough to get us through April at Alpental and if we are lucky again this year, the Summit will give us Cinco de Mayo. On a side note, I love Cinco de Mayo at Alpental in the rain, snow or shine for a number of reasons… Lots of friends, 2 parking lots of overflowing good vibes, some of the best lift served BIG mountain skiing in North America and it’s my birthday! Now, back to this weekend, I just started it off with a lap up on Hyak this afternoon and let’s just say I had a lot of fun on the WET granular snow. Tomorrow should be somewhat the same and as long as there is snow to ski right here at home, things are pretty damn good in my book. Below is a day we spent recently with Peak Travels, out of Spokane, helping them gather some footage for a NW Cable show they were working on this trip. The footage in the vid is just a little teaser of the program the Summit will be featured in this upcoming Fall.


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19
Apr

bakersm

This is it, the final weekend of lift operations for Mt. Baker ski area in Washington. No amount of snow can change that. In fact, it still leads the nation with the deepest snow pack measuring 179″ at its Heather Meadows base lodge and 198″ at the top of their Pan Dome at 5000ft. With so much snow, we can typically find decent backcountry skiing in the area well into July.

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18
Apr

The two videos below are from this past weekend at Alpental, or mostly Alpental. Over the course of the weekend, we received over 3 feet of new snow up on Alpental, so it’s no wonder that the lift lines were big. However, big lift lines in mid-April along with good snowpack just might get us to Cinco de Mayo. Back to the videso below, the first video was a bunch of clips Jerad Merbs, Evan Lund and myself captured. The second video is from our friends, Scott Harder and Randy Bush, mostly the same location and time frame… Enjoy!



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17
Apr

Just a quick conditions update from the home base, Hyak. Yesterday’s chores were interrupted by a few inches of halfway cold snow that fell, first thing in the morning, on top of the deep wet snow that remained from the last big storm. By the time I was able to make it out the sun was shining, so I headed for the trees and as much shade as possible ( and try to beat the melting snow from the limbs that would ruin the goods).


below – Hyak as seen at High noon on 4/17/13


Heading into the trees paid off with a better that expected ride and even a few stashes of good pow (the snow in the open full sun was a little too deep and gwanchy for Trooper dog’s liking). Stoked for the good coverage that remains in the Central Cascades at 2,600′, making for so many late day touring options. For all of you that still want some lift served action on Snoqualmie Pass, The Summit at Snoqualmie will be spinning the lifts this Saturday and Sunday at both Central and Alpental from 9AM-4PM. As for Hyak I think this will be the last week you will be able to skin from the parking lot and cross the first water gap with out clicking out of the bindings.


below – short video of conditons


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