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Spring Avalanche Concerns

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 

So as spring time finally enters I had a few questions about BC travel. These Spring temperatures seem to create conundrum of consolidating the snow pack but creating the risks of wet slab activity. Obviously sun prone slopes are at a higher risk but what other things should I be looking for? I know to look for the balls that form when the snow gets wet, are there any other good indicators? Finally as new snow becomes less common how often should I be digging pits? As the resorts close down I will be heading more into the BC and want to research more on these condition. 

post #2 of 72

Spring is relatively easy...

 

good corn is relatively safe...  If it becomes thick and deep and you are leaving big trenches in the snow, time to call it a day, which should be easy because its less fun to ski and trenching a popular slope is bad form...

 

point releases are the more common type of slide, or a big wet slough can push somebody somewhere they don't want to go...

 

jump off your skis every once in a while on the skin track and see how far your boot penetrates the snow.  If you are sinking above the boot top, time to move to a different aspect.

 

east facing slopes will get sun first, soften first, and then soften too much first.  South facing sees a lot of sun the whole length of the day and often are most susceptible to spring slides.  North will soften last and in many cases the corn window will be a little bigger then the other aspects.

 

your overnight temps should be cold.  if not the snow doesn't refreeze and the depth of snow softened with liquid water running becomes deeper faster and theoretically could be too wet before the sun ever touches it...

 

there will often be a bit of a refreeze due to radiational cooling...  it might not be deep though so the sun doesn't have to work hard to expose the unfrozen snow...

 

under 32 degrees is ideal but you can time a ski in many cases of a warmer than freezing overnight temp...  

 

post #3 of 72

The simple answer is take a good quality basic avy course. And ideally to travel with a trained, experienced, prudent group.

 

While there comes a point where in many places things sort of stabilize, "spring" is a pretty broad term. There have been boarding and skiing avy fatalities in both WA  and CO within the past week or so.  And no small number of recent close calls...

 

Getting some info here to frame things may not be a bad idea. But assuming you can get "trained" on this sort of life and death  topic on an Internet forum is probably not the best idea.


Edited by spindrift - 4/5/11 at 10:05pm
post #4 of 72
Thread Starter 

spindrift I appreciate the concern but as has been discussed at length in other threads it is not feasible for me to take a course. As an Air Force Academy cadet I am required to attend classes Monday-Friday till 430 and then if I chose to leave must be back by 750. In my searching I have been unable to find a single avy class that does not have at least one day that is during the week. As such I am forced to find other methods of education.

 

I do not think that answers from this form will "train me up" but they do help. IN addition everything they cover in a class has been written about at length in many, many books, websites, ect. Personally I don't think that some one reading me info from a power point or lecturing about it is any more effective then me reading about it as long as I am willing to put in the time. The on snow portion is certainly valuable but by training on relatively safe terrain and talking to people I meet I can also obtain that knowledge. Personally I believe that a class can be very valuable if your engaged but many people are not. It's very easy to show up sit there and twiddle your thumbs not really paying attention or putting effort in and then say look at me I am good to go because I attended the class. A class is only as good as the effort put in and unfortunately they give a false sense of security.

 

A class is not an end all be all. I can't tell you the number of times that I have been climbing and seen someone who took a climbing class doing something incredibly stupid because they are venturing beyond the knowledge provided. But they took a class and got certified to climb so it must be okay right?

post #5 of 72

Crystal Mountain (WA) was so unstable this past weekend that they wouldn't let the patrollers go out on their normal bomb routes. Instead they dropped the bombs by helicopter. We had something like 130 inchs in the last month, Then about a week of rain then another foot of new snow. Crazy dangerous backcountry conditions

post #6 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NordtheBarbarian View Post

Crystal Mountain (WA) was so unstable this past weekend that they wouldn't let the patrollers go out on their normal bomb routes. Instead they dropped the bombs by helicopter. We had something like 130 inchs in the last month, Then about a week of rain then another foot of new snow. Crazy dangerous backcountry conditions



Thanks for the info. I am not planning on going BC this week or next just looking to read up more. There was also a death yesterday in the vail and summit county area. With the recent storm cycle dropping heavier snow onto the lighter stuff and the buried weak layer conditions are way over my head. There are also several reports of bomb triggered avalanches going to ground. It certainly is no place for a rookie right now 

post #7 of 72

lonewolf has been taking his lumps in this forum this winter...

 

it's true that all bets are off if a storm cycle runs through

 

I presume that lonewolf was asking about a consolidated "spring" snowpack rather than skiing between March 21st and June 21st and some hard rules for that time frame...

 

This comes from everybody jumping on him, including me, in other threads and suggesting he waits until "spring" when things "stabilize"...

 

armchair me all you want, I feel pretty confident in my abilities and once things settle down in lw's neck of the woods and there are good overnight re-freezes and this recent avy cycle settles down and is consolidated, I think it'd be great for him to get out there and give it a go...

 

obviously keeping in mind that it needs to go through that corn/consolidation cycle before it really is a go...  I'm not sure how colorado's season was but in tahoe we are dealing with some major cornices due to a million feet of snow and typical california sun nowadays.  those present another danger...

 

but come on, when the corn is poppin', he's fine to get out there...

 

 

post #8 of 72


Quote:

Originally Posted by splitter View Post

lonewolf has been taking his lumps in this forum this winter...

 

it's true that all bets are off if a storm cycle runs through

 

I presume that lonewolf was asking about a consolidated "spring" snowpack rather than skiing between March 21st and June 21st and some hard rules for that time frame...

 

This comes from everybody jumping on him, including me, in other threads and suggesting he waits until "spring" when things "stabilize"...

 

armchair me all you want, I feel pretty confident in my abilities and once things settle down in lw's neck of the woods and there are good overnight re-freezes and this recent avy cycle settles down and is consolidated, I think it'd be great for him to get out there and give it a go...

 

obviously keeping in mind that it needs to go through that corn/consolidation cycle before it really is a go...  I'm not sure how colorado's season was but in tahoe we are dealing with some major cornices due to a million feet of snow and typical california sun nowadays.  those present another danger...

 

but come on, when the corn is poppin', he's fine to get out there...


Still, the smart - and responsible - thing for him to do is to wait until he has the knowledge and skills (or at least a mentor) before going out in the backcountry.  Just because he doesn't have the time to acquire those isn't a good enough reason to try to shortcut the process.  There's a lot at stake.   Confidence in your own abilities (in a place like CA with a relatively stable snowpack) doesn't translate for a noob in CO.  

 

post #9 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post


Quote:


Still, the smart - and responsible - thing for him to do is to wait until he has the knowledge and skills (or at least a mentor) before going out in the backcountry.  Just because he doesn't have the time to acquire those isn't a good enough reason to try to shortcut the process.  There's a lot at stake.   Confidence in your own abilities (in a place like CA with a relatively stable snowpack) doesn't translate for a noob in CO.  

 

But why does that knowledge have to come from a class. Is it not as good if I get it from a book or online course?
 

If I practice digging snow pits in a yard with no danger is it less valuable?

 

I am in no way going out with out having any knowledge I am simply not taking a class because I can't. I would never advocate going out unprepared I am simply pointing out that knowledge can be gained without taking a class

post #10 of 72

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post

But why does that knowledge have to come from a class. 


I didn't say it had to come from a class.  

 

Quote:

Is it not as good if I get it from a book or online course?

 

I would think that someone from the AFA would understand that certain kinds of training require field and/or hands-on experience.  By the way, do you know of any on-line avalanche training?  

 

Quote:

If I practice digging snow pits in a yard with no danger is it less valuable?

 

Yes, it would be much less valuable.  Nearly useless in fact.  

 

Quote:

I am in no way going out with out having any knowledge I am simply not taking a class because I can't. I would never advocate going out unprepared I am simply pointing out that knowledge can be gained without taking a class

 

See my first response.  In my first response I wrote: "Still, the smart - and responsible - thing for him to do is to wait until he has the knowledge and skills (or at least a mentor) before going out in the backcountry.  Just because he doesn't have the time to acquire those isn't a good enough reason to try to shortcut the process."  No mention of courses - knowledge and skills, yes.  

post #11 of 72
Thread Starter 

Actually the Canada avalanche center has a free online course. Pretty basic but covers a lot. 

 

Why would practicing a pit in a yard be useless? I can see different layers of snow and work on identifying the different types. If I have a small steep area I can also practice stress tests.

 

Your right about some stuff requiring hands on training but at the same time I have been around enough of it to know that a lot of times the stuff taught in the classroom doesn't carry through and that a lot of people won't bother to learn things till they have to be self sufficient. Kinda like a kid being driven around. Their parents drive them somewhere ll the time but when they finally get their license they have no idea how to get there.

 

My comments weren't directed at you specifically Bob Lee I am just very frustrated with the attitude a lot of people have about the avy course being some magical thing that means you are incapable of traveling into the BC until you have done it.

 

Finally me being an AFA cadet probably does more to contribute to the problem then help. I have had to teach myself a lot of things since being here and believe it or not I have a more cautious attitude towards back country and then a lot of other cadets. I know people who travel BC without any avy gear and feel they are being safe by simply checking the avy report for the day if they do that. Cadets tend to carry an attitude that they are invincible and can get themselves out of anything.

 

Edit: also I forgot to include this link which has links to several online courses http://www.avalanche-center.org/Education/Courses/online.php

post #12 of 72

Do avalanche courses cover wet slab issues, or just the traditional winter layer problems?

I remember when there was a late spring wet slide at A-Basin several years ago everyone acted surprised.

post #13 of 72

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post

Actually the Canada avalanche center has a free online course. Pretty basic but covers a lot... 

 

...Edit: also I forgot to include this link which has links to several online courses http://www.avalanche-center.org/Education/Courses/online.php


Huh, I'll be damned.  I'd never seen those.  I'll just say - without actually looking hard at those courses - that I can't imagine them imparting as much knowledge and understanding as working in pits with someone who can show me what I'm looking at, and how it might affect my skiing, and what I'm doing right or wrong, and what things look like in real life.  But that's just me.  

 

Quote:

Why would practicing a pit in a yard be useless? I can see different layers of snow and work on identifying the different types. If I have a small steep area I can also practice stress tests.

 

Well, your yard isn't likely to have the same conditions or complexities or terrain as the mountains.  All those things affect the snowpack and I can't imagine that you're likely to encounter similar conditions etc. as what you're likely to find in the mountains - especially concerning snowpack conditions as (notoriously) complex as those found in the mountains in CO.  

 

Quote:

Your right about some stuff requiring hands on training but at the same time I have been around enough of it to know that a lot of times the stuff taught in the classroom doesn't carry through and that a lot of people won't bother to learn things till they have to be self sufficient. Kinda like a kid being driven around. Their parents drive them somewhere ll the time but when they finally get their license they have no idea how to get there.

 

Driving to the mall isn't the same as backcountry skiing.  

 

Quote:

My comments weren't directed at you specifically Bob Lee I am just very frustrated with the attitude a lot of people have about the avy course being some magical thing that means you are incapable of traveling into the BC until you have done it.

 

Well, the part where you were responding to (and quoting) my post sort of led me to think that you were directing it to me.  

 

Look, I have to admit that I don't really care that much if you go backcountry skiing with or without what some would consider to be a good background and experience in identifying and mitigating dangerous circumstances.  But I bet that there are some people who do.  Bottom line: I'm just trying to help.  

post #14 of 72
Thread Starter 

I appreciate it. It just gets frustrating when every time I ask a question the response is "you can't  get trained on an internet go take a course or find a partner." I was just looking for some info.

 

I go out only when the conditions are very low for avalanches and I only have been in well traveled areas. If I see someone digging a pit I'll go ask questions and talk to them. I use the beacon park at Breck and shockingly they get really excited about it because they rarely see any one take advantage of it. So I'll also get info from patrollers at Breck and they more than happy to talk to me.

 

So back to the original topic: Major things to look for indicating dangerous wet slab conditions   

post #15 of 72
Point releases. Knowing when the corn has turned to mush. One other thing is that in spring people tend to go "bigger". They hit higher angle stuff. So if you stick with lower angles not only are you less likely to trigger a wetty but if you do they move a hell of a lot slower than a slab. Not that that matters much if it a big one.
post #16 of 72
Thread Starter 

Just from what I am seeing in the reports and from research it seems that although things "stabilize" in spring when avalanches are triggered they tend to be big. Is this true? Kind of a double edged sword

 

As far as going bigger I do eventually want to ski dead dog couloir (not this year unless I can find some really experienced partners to go with). Any one know the best time to try it? It's also my understanding that it requires crampons and ice axes. Since it's a snow climb just basic crampons should do right?    

post #17 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post


Quote:


Still, the smart - and responsible - thing for him to do is to wait until he has the knowledge and skills (or at least a mentor) before going out in the backcountry.  Just because he doesn't have the time to acquire those isn't a good enough reason to try to shortcut the process.  There's a lot at stake.   Confidence in your own abilities (in a place like CA with a relatively stable snowpack) doesn't translate for a noob in CO.  

 


 

anytime anyone gets on an internet forum and asks for backcountry advice they get the same two sided answer...  get some guidance from a hired hand or an experienced friend...  and/or wait until spring when things are consolidated...

 

I was one of the more harsh critics of ol' lonewolf in a couple of those threads he originally started...

 

but come on, bob, granted there are storms now, and could be, hence the caveat of a storm cycle throwing a wrench into the plans...

 

but a true corn cycle, i.e. a couple of weeks of ~50 degree temps and belowing freezing at night for a hard and wide-spread refreeze, you know as well as I do that's not going anywhere...

 

other things might be a pain in the ass, like a frozen, shoulder-dislocating, skinny ass skintrack, or crossing bergshrunds or creeks and lakes that are opening up, or lonewolf's question about not really needing an axe on a steep spring coulior climb (you do, lonewolf, it's hard as a rock because of the prior days melt and previous night refreeze making purchase difficult enough and stopping impossible without one, come on bro, you're not helping my cause her) but stability isn't really one during that sort of weather pattern.

 

I know y'all get a lot more layers during the winter...  but during that widespread melting the water that percolates down and then solidifies at night breaks down those temperature gradients and makes one big isothermal ice cube...

 

the thing lonewolf needs to take into consideration is not jumping on the biggest baddest coulior he can find to start...  you reading this lw?  don't worry about some big goddamn coulior...  go find a nice big open s/e facing slope (not coulior, not above cliff bands) and be ready to click in at 11 am and then call it a day

post #18 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by splitter View Post


 

lonewolf's question about not really needing an axe on a steep spring coulior climb (you do, lonewolf, it's hard as a rock because of the prior days melt and previous night refreeze making purchase difficult enough and stopping impossible without one, come on bro, you're not helping my cause her) but stability isn't really one during that sort of weather pattern.

 


I said you did need an ice axe. I was asking about which crampons would be appropriate because its my understanding  that something like a 14 point crampon is over kill for a snow  climb. But that's at least year or two in the future so not really an issue. Iw as just asking in case I saw a good deal on a 10 or 12 point crampon. I already have an ice axe that I got from a friend who moved away.  

 

I am also not looking at climbing couloirs right now. Mastersracer told me that mayflower gulch is a good place to start with relatively low consequence terrain 

post #19 of 72

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by splitter View Post

anytime anyone gets on an internet forum and asks for backcountry advice they get the same two sided answer...  get some guidance from a hired hand or an experienced friend...  and/or wait until spring when things are consolidated...

 

I was one of the more harsh critics of ol' lonewolf in a couple of those threads he originally started...

 

but come on, bob, granted there are storms now, and could be, hence the caveat of a storm cycle throwing a wrench into the plans...

 

but a true corn cycle, i.e. a couple of weeks of ~50 degree temps and belowing freezing at night for a hard and wide-spread refreeze, you know as well as I do that's not going anywhere...

 

other things might be a pain in the ass, like a frozen, shoulder-dislocating, skinny ass skintrack, or crossing bergshrunds or creeks and lakes that are opening up, or lonewolf's question about not really needing an axe on a steep spring coulior climb (you do, lonewolf, it's hard as a rock because of the prior days melt and previous night refreeze making purchase difficult enough and stopping impossible without one, come on bro, you're not helping my cause her) but stability isn't really one during that sort of weather pattern.

 

I know y'all get a lot more layers during the winter...  but during that widespread melting the water that percolates down and then solidifies at night breaks down those temperature gradients and makes one big isothermal ice cube...

 

the thing lonewolf needs to take into consideration is not jumping on the biggest baddest coulior he can find to start...  you reading this lw?  don't worry about some big goddamn coulior...  go find a nice big open s/e facing slope (not coulior, not above cliff bands) and be ready to click in at 11 am and then call it a day


Yeah, but then there are cornices (which require a bit of experience to evaluate and navigate) and wind loading, and prolonged or sudden warm temperatures, and percolation, and deep weak layers like rain crusts, and rain in general, and route-finding, and of course heuristics.  But if you've got all that nailed, then go for it.  Bomber snowpack and great skiing in the spring is common, but probably not to be taken for granted.  

 

I don't mean to sound like an old lady here, though I probably do...

post #20 of 72

I'll add my 2 cents. By that I mean this is how I see it, not necessarily what is, always, for everyone. I got into this BC game late after my adult son got the bug in a big way. As a dad 2000 miles away, I wanted to understand the risks so I read all books, studied on line and I read most of the threads in multiple forums pertaining to avalanche safety and the accident reports. Now I've had the chance to actually visit the back country a few times (once solo OMG!). My son was taught by a guide who teaches guides. A very capable and cautious teacher. Cautious because he has seen many competent mountain guides die. In his classes, pit digging was a low priority. It only gives the conditions at that spot, on that aspect. Something to factor into the equation but safe travel has many more factors as others here have mentioned.

 

On my own personal responsibility side, in fields that I am experienced in, I lean towards letting fools be fools after giving a word of caution. i.e. "you really should wear goggles when you use a chain saw. Don't want to? Well start your cut on the underside of that limb then finish at the top." I've given caution and then advise on a technique to use to safely do the job. I've seen threads where it was said that if someone picked up hitch hikers headed the the BC he would quiz them and if deemed to be unprepared he would make them get out of the car. I don't condemn that, just showing the spectrum of thought.

 

The bottom line, as I see it, is that you can travel the winter BC for many years without any danger. Unless you want to ski the fun lines. Then, the only thing an education can guarantee is that you have decreased ( not eliminated) the odds of getting caught. When my son called his mother to tell her he was waiting to meet the group and take an Avy safety course, she asked him where he was. "In the ski area parking lot" he told her. "Well, I'll save you some time and money" she replied, "Stay in the Parking lot ! "

 

 After a ton of study myself and after actually being in the back country, only now do I feel that I'd benefit taking an avy course. I'll know what they are talking about and can learn. I'd be interested in knowing how many expert BC skiers jumped off the lift and went straight to the classroom before they ventured outside the ropes.

 

Keep asking those questions lonewolf. Obviously you don't live in namby pamby land and the color yellow doesn't make you sad. We can all learn.

post #21 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post It certainly is no place for a rookie right now


Meh, as long as you keep your slope angles down you can be touring in all conditions.  As for spring avi tips.  Pay attention to the sun, ski recently shaded slopes, and look out for wet slides.  Also, sunscreen

post #22 of 72

I am no expert on this topic, but I did recently read a useful instructional book on avey awareness (training?) Sorry,  I have a very poor memory for literature and citations, but the manual was part of my daughters avey training course in Bozeman MT.

 

Most interesting was the closing chapter.  The writer]s experience, supported by examples, was that the greatest danger was the participants over confidence.  Yep,  Not innocence,....but ignorance!

 

Innocence being not knowing,

 

Ignorance being knowing but going on any way.

 

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing,  in the case of back country recreation, it seems that greater amounts of "edumaction" is no better.

 

Please don't think this cavalier,  it is only what I have learned about avey awareness so far.    I am far behind wooley12 on this path.

 

Be careful out there!

post #23 of 72

Case in point. Last June on a tour with my son and nephew from Paradise to Camp Muir on Mt. Olympus. Above Camp Muir earlier in the day 12 were buried. 11 were rescued. I stopped half way up for lunch and decided to return to our car while the others continued on. Skiing back down on a 15 deg slope. I was not "alone" but I was on my own. I stopped and took this picture of the wet slides. SE aspect. Lots of heating. As I took the picture, behind me was a similar slope that would be fun and get me back home. Fresh but wet corn. I thought briefly about skiing it. Nope. I'm alone and not too experienced but knew enough to figure that what I see in front could/would happen behind me. Skiing under 25 deg.  and away from anything over 25 deg. that's above me was a safe way to go. Knowledgeable caution is the key at the beginning. If I enjoy just being there at first I can enjoy skiing there when I'm smarter.

 

100_2647.JPG.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #24 of 72
Thread Starter 

Double post


Edited by lonewolf210 - 4/14/11 at 8:45pm
post #25 of 72
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wooley12 View Post

Case in point. Last June on a tour with my son and nephew from Paradise to Camp Muir on Mt. Olympus. Above Camp Muir earlier in the day 12 were buried. 11 were rescued. I stopped half way up for lunch and decided to return to our car while the others continued on. Skiing back down on a 15 deg slope. I was not "alone" but I was on my own. I stopped and took this picture of the wet slides. SE aspect. Lots of heating. As I took the picture, behind me was a similar slope that would be fun and get me back home. Fresh but wet corn. I thought briefly about skiing it. Nope. I'm alone and not too experienced but knew enough to figure that what I see in front could/would happen behind me. Skiing under 25 deg.  and away from anything over 25 deg. that's above me was a safe way to go. Knowledgeable caution is the key at the beginning. If I enjoy just being there at first I can enjoy skiing there when I'm smarter.

 

Very said to hear  about any deaths on the mountain but major props to whoever ran that rescue operation. 11 of 12 is a pretty heroic number. You wouldn't by chance know where I could find a report on teh accident I would be very interested to see what they did for search techniques and how long it took to rescue all those people. 
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cgrandy View Post

I am no expert on this topic, but I did recently read a useful instructional book on avey awareness (training?) Sorry,  I have a very poor memory for literature and citations, but the manual was part of my daughters avey training course in Bozeman MT.

 

Most interesting was the closing chapter.  The writer]s experience, supported by examples, was that the greatest danger was the participants over confidence.  Yep,  Not innocence,....but ignorance!

 

Brings up the interesting topic of heuristics. A major one being "well there is tracks so it's safe." You have no idea when or how much knowledge that person had when they made those tracks. Also kinda falls into the category that lots of people must mean it's safe. Loveland pass is a very popular place here to ride back country and many people just park their cars and go with out an inkling of an idea of the danger but they see all the people doing so assume it is safe.

 

On a side not does the amount of traffic Loveland pass sees create a more stable snow pack? does the compaction from all the traffic help the snow bond better? I know that it is still as risly as any where else, there were several slides there this year, it's just a purely intellectual inquiry.

 

 

post #26 of 72

There were numbers presented in the instruction book I read regarding the effect a person might have related to the depth of the unstable boundary beneath the snow surface/

 

from that I gleaned that previous traffic "might" show good or bad relative to a very shallow depth slide.  but bigger stuff??? (read deeper, like wet slides)

 

well,   your guess.....

post #27 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post

 

On a side not does the amount of traffic Loveland pass sees create a more stable snow pack? does the compaction from all the traffic help the snow bond better? I know that it is still as risly as any where else, there were several slides there this year, it's just a purely intellectual inquiry.

 

 

 

Apparently, a lot of compaction stabilizes the snowpack.  Take a look at the Highland Bowl bootpacking program.

http://bootpacker.com/gallery/3/  (Wow, that looks like incredibly hard work.)  But they pack early and often, not like random skier traffic.

I don't know what effect that lesser and erratic packing would have.

 

 

 

post #28 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post



 

Apparently, a lot of compaction stabilizes the snowpack.  Take a look at the Highland Bowl bootpacking program.

http://bootpacker.com/gallery/3/  (Wow, that looks like incredibly hard work.)  But they pack early and often, not like random skier traffic.

I don't know what effect that lesser and erratic packing would have.

 

 

 

It's a lot of traffic I have literally seen it more tracked out than a resort. Especially the areas that take you back to the spot where everyone hitches back to the top Pretty incredible the amount of people that go up there.

 

That doesn't look like a whole lot of fun...

I meet a guy at Breck this season who had a friend that owned a cabin that was way out in the woods and only accessible by snowmobile. Apparently there is a near by bowl that they boot pack and avy control themselves kinda sweet sounding but looks like a lot of work. 

post #29 of 72

lonewolf, timing is the name of the game in the spring.  When temps are going to get warm, if you haven't done your tour and are at the bar by 1 having a drink, you've done something wrong.  Sometimes being at the bar at that time is way too late (for happy hour and spring slides...). 

 

Spring is also typically a much easier time to read conditions, though this year, spring is late.  I am just starting to feel comfortable getting on bigger terrain where as in the past 5 years, I had slayed tons of lines on big faces in the alpine.  Different season, different dangers.

 

If you are really serious about this, you can join in on an adventure.  Shoot me a PM.  I do a lot of stuff at Bert and Vail Pass. I've been itching to get on some higher stuff, but that timing thing has not been great on my part this season.  Hoping to do Dead Dog on Torrey's in the near future as that is a great line.  I also work with Friends of Berthoud on their Field Team.  So you wouldn't be the first person I've taken under my wing.  Let me know.

post #30 of 72

lonewolf - get the 12 point crampons.  Also, get a real ice axe, not a whippet, for Dead Dog.  And learn how to use it somewhere else.

 

The top part of that is pretty steep.

 

You're going to want to start very, very early on that one, and you're going to want to top out before the snow gets too soft.  That means you're going to be cramponing up on hard, frozen snow for most of the trip, possibly in the dark.

 

Check Lou Dawson's book on climbing the 14ers... he'll have sunhit for most of those routes, which will give you an idea of timing.

 

I'd strongly suggest working on your ice axe/crampon skills elsewhere before you try a couloir like that.  There's no point whatsoever in packing (and depending on) an ice axe if you don't know how to self-arrest.  Do it wrong and you'll end up with it being ripped out of your hands while you go for a ride... or you can always end up with a pick in your forehead, also a very attractive result.

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