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When good snow goes bad in the PNW...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

It seems once a year I post up something about local road slides. Usually things are pretty under control in the standard paths - most of the time 3 munitioned tanks and assortment of charge/bomb launchers, etc. operated by WA DOT keep things in the passes cleared. They do an awesome job.

 

Every now and again though,the snowpack and weather conspire to make life exciting. This week was one of those times, as the pics below demonstrate (On a genuinely sober note wrt snow conditions, a sidebounds boarder died this past week in a wet slide in the Tunnel Creek area very, very near where these pics are from. And there were a couple luckily more benign incidents at other areas. So be careful out there...)

 

These are from a well known and usually under control set of slide paths on the West side of Stevens Pass - this week they kind of got out of hand (pics snagged from the WA DOT Flickr stream).

5577209906_c42a2566a8_z.jpg

 

 

5578008030_4071f406f3_z.jpg

 

 ....oops... 

 

5577421539_dce4e823de_z.jpg

 

 

And if that was not enough, the big wet warm storm closed off the pass from the east side as well

 

5579256609_ab7f68961a_z.jpg

 

I think the DOT folks are gonna be getting some overtime pay...

 

Their full photo stream is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/


Edited by spindrift - 4/1/11 at 9:17pm
post #2 of 8

The road's finally open again from Seattle (it had been closed since yesterday morning at 5am), but the rock slide is still blocking the road on the east side.  There's a detour for passenger cars to get to/from Leavenworth, but I guess it's a no-no for big trucks, they still have to go over I-90 right now.  Many thanks to all the DOT workers, I'm sure they were busting ass today.

post #3 of 8

Does anyone know specifically where the tragic snowboard accident occurred last Sunday ?  I heard it was somewhere off the backside in a 'sidecountry' area.  Was this from a lift accessible area, very near or within Stevens Pass boundaries ?  I'm not familiar with the names of any of the backcountry or sidecountry areas, so a general description would be helpful. 

post #4 of 8

Do you think the "Oops" truck got itself stuck, or was that hangfire?

post #5 of 8

Nope, it did not get itself stuck.  Partially buried by a secondary avalanche (not sure if natural or DOT caused) on Thursday afternoon.  No one hurt fortunately.  At that point, they pulled everyone off the road and waited until Friday morning to continue snow removal.

 

ILOJ, spindrift or someone else who knows the Stevens sidecountry better than me can elaborate/correct, but my understanding is that the Tunnel Creek area (where the snowboarder was killed) is accessed via hiking the ridge off the 7th heaven chair, and then skiing down the backside of Cowboy Mt. towards the highway.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ILOJ View Post

Does anyone know specifically where the tragic snowboard accident occurred last Sunday ?  I heard it was somewhere off the backside in a 'sidecountry' area.  Was this from a lift accessible area, very near or within Stevens Pass boundaries ?  I'm not familiar with the names of any of the backcountry or sidecountry areas, so a general description would be helpful. 


Putting this in context - I'm no Stevens BC expert. And I have yet to do Tunnel Creek (for a variety of reasons). However, the quick version is that a lift served bootpack gets you to where you head OB and drop off the backside of Cowboy Mountain (not the "backside" of the ski area on the map). The mark on this map is the top of Cowboy Mountain. WIthout getting bogged down in exact details, visualize a line from the mark down and to the left to the hairpin turn you see on US 2. That is the general terrain in question. The "run" exits at the hairpin (& there are "issues" because of this). 

 

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=cowboy+mountain,+wa&aq=&sll=47.732333,-121.09871&sspn=0.053977,0.095701&g=cowboy+mountain+wa&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Cowboy+Mountain&ll=47.732339,-121.09869&spn=0.053977,0.095701&t=h&z=14

 

It is worth noting that this entire area is pretty serious avy terrain. The resort has over 200 known paths inbounds. If you drive the highway this week, you'll see some massive debris piles between the hairpin & the resort. 

post #7 of 8

we have some backcountry access that is illegal, so I guess not really access. Like you described in Washington, a line that goes down to a road, no avi control on the slope. But the point is, it is very dangerous skiing, the snow builds up suddenly in windy conditions, the powder can get very deep in the gullies. experienced BC skiers pass on it during some of the most attractive and exciting conditions because it is just not worth the risk of being caught in a slide, small, medium, or large, it makes little difference sometimes.

post #8 of 8

Spindrift - Thanks for the description of the area.  I've been up to Stevens Pass several times this week and the avy debris piles along the freeway are gigantic ! Apparently it was 30 ft deep over the freeway.  Just driving by is a scary thought - no way to dig yourself out of that.  There are chunks of trees in that avy pile !

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