Tuesday, February 28, 2012

fun stuff

I am willing to call the skiing inbounds at the Big on Sunday, February 26, 2012 "EPIC"! That is the most overnight snowfall I have seen in my 21 years here, and as much in 24 hours in that time frame as well. And although the crowds were as bad as they can get, it was still an amazing day. I have actually been surprised by a number of people I have spoken with that did NOT make it up there on Sunday. I think the patrol did as good as possible getting things open, especially with a heart attack/death just when they were nearly caught up taking valuable resources away from their avy control efforts. From what I understand, the victim had actually felt some signs, but took them to be heartburn. But this is another subject.

So we just had about 10 good to great days of skiing in a row, and the conditions remain great inbounds, but the backcountry is indeed a major hazard. I believe it must be settling out, but there are now two distinct and dangerous layers in the top 3-4 feet that cannot be ignored. Certainly, I want to get out and ski some sick, deep pow but just know the conservative approach is the best approach.

More snow is on the way. Nothing like last week, but still, a bit of a re-fresh that should make some great skiing on Wednesday and Thursday, and possibly this weekend.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

avy danger

Saturday February 25, 2012

Today, I skied in Canyon Creek. We found some of the worst new snow instability I have ever seen. Twice we kicked off small avalanches that could have buried someone. These were not large, but we were in highly treed areas and low 30 degree pitches. It something like this were to step down to deeper layers of instability, it could be catastrophic. I do not feel like I am one to be too conservative or worried, and I have never sent anything out like this before. But February has been a bad month for avalanches, and quite frankly I am nervous.

Therefore I am advising extreme caution. Personally, I am going no where near the backcountry for the next few days.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

typical february

this is what i would call a typical february for NW Mt, with a very untypical caviat. a decent base of snow in the mountains, with decent skiing conditions, increasing day length to the extent that we are now noticing it in both the am and pm, and some but not much new snow falling.
the caviat? well, there remains very little valley snow, okay, basically none. the snow cover in most of our access points to the backcountry is limited, making approaches difficult to shitty.

temps have never been cold this year, and we are fast approaching the time of year where it is not too likely to see anything below zero. oh sure, it can happen, but just not as likely.

so, feb. is a good time to tour and make plans for spring trips, or to make early sojourns to the SW desert for some early season riding. and hope that March brings back the La Nina effect that has mostly avoided us this year.

in the meantime, backcountry conditions are okay, but not great. snow on southern facing aspects, even up high, has an buried suncrust that may effect your skiing, and could turn into a dangerous layer with some more snow on it. north facing aspects are in great condition, and seem very stable, but i did kick off a tiny 2" fracture, about 20 feet wide on sunday. a bit unnerved after the recent death in the Jewel as i saw a small crack begin to spread, i moved quickly to my right, only to laugh at myself at the infintesimal size. better safe, right?

Friday, February 10, 2012

come on snow!

well, it is friday and trying to snow. with a few inches in the forecast, we can hope for a bit more, but really, the forecast thru the weekend is not awe inspiring. but at least it has broken the latest high pressure.

wednesday there was a memorial for Mark Albee, which, despite the unfortunate circumstances that brought this group together, was a positive event, and will help so many of us begin to move forward.

life is so fragile and fleeting. how can we slow it down and better learn to enjoy each and every moment? i don't have any anwer for this, but need to search and try harder.

not much info on backcountry conditions, as i have not been out, nor spoken to anyone who has. it is time to return!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tragedy in Jewel Basin

Despite the great skiing of late, it is with a heart that is heavy I make this post. enough said.

A message from Chris Miller:

For those of you who have not heard, or have not been able to follow the news, Mark Albee died on Wednesday, February 1, 2012, in a massive avalanche in the Jewel Basin. He was skiing with his long time partner, best friend and brother, Iain. In fact, they were not skiing, but had just taken some photos from a ridge, and were moving away to ski a safe line in the opposite direction from where the avalanche ended up going. The snow pack fractured to the ground, right on the ridge, and indeed somewhat back from the slope. There was not a cornice of any perceptible size, and they never once thought they were in any danger where they stood. Only by some shear force of luck was Iain not taken as well.

The avalanche went perhaps 1000’ vertical, exposing several rock bands and cliffs. Despite his best efforts, Iain was not able to reach the debris pile in any safe manner, and had to leave to call for help. He knew the worst was all that there was.

Mark was found yesterday, Thursday, February 2, by search and rescue. It took the team quite some time to locate the body, but his transceiver was still working, at least making a long and dangerous probe line unnecessary. It then took them over half an hour to dig the body out, as the snow was packed incredibly tight and solid.

Family members and friends have begun the grieving process. Mark was a fun and fantastic friend, hard worker and great family man. He will be missed very much, and I am thankful to have so many great and lasting memories, as I try to take the best out of this tragic situation.

It is always is worse when it is someone you love. So long Mark Albee, so long.