backcountry

Staying safe on Mt. St. Helens

We just got back from our second trip up to Mt. St. Helens. We attempted a summit in mid-December but had to turn back because of questionable snowpack stability. This trip was no different, after digging our pit we found some questionable wind layers and chose some safe routes on the ride down. Stay safe out there with all of this very cold dry snow, we don’t get this often in the PNW.

Dry powder in the PNW

Headed up to Crystal Mountain this weekend with Eric Mireiter and met up with a few Crystal Mountain locals. Waking up Sunday morning, we hopped out of the camper truck to find 21cm of fresh snow and it was by far some of the driest snow I’ve seen in the PNW in a long time. Stay safe out there!

It’s time to get scared again…

(photo: Cory Betzel on Mt. Rainier)

Well it’s that time of the year again. What time is that? Time to get the board and skis waxed? Time to start watching all of the new powder films? Time to plan all of your Winter trips? Nope.. It’s time to get scared again.

On September 27th of this year, we experienced the first avalanche death of the season in Banff. If it wasn’t already in our Fall plans, this should be a urgent reminder that it’s time to dust off our Avalanche Training books and start to review our materials. It’s easy to go into the season with too much confidence and to forget some of our basic knowledge when the stoke is high after a long absence of powder in our lives. So it’s time to get ourselves scared and educated again before we enter the backcountry…

Where are some good places to get scared? There are a lot of ways but here are some of my favorite places:

  1. Read the accident and avalanche reports from the past season in your area. Besides being an eye opening reminder of what can happen, it also gives you a better understanding of what happens in your surrounding area.  At Avalanche.org you can read about some of the 30 avalanche deaths we had in the 2015-2016 US season.
  2. KBYG.org has a good list of all of the Avlanche Centers in the US and they also have a terrifying video of being caught in an avalanche.
  3. Films! Go watch some of your favorite films where people have accidentally triggered avalanches. Another good film is Snowman, the story of an avalanche forecaster in BC.
  4. Besides your avalanche training materials, Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain is great book to read if you want to get into some statistics on fatalities and accidents.
  5. Lastly, Youtube “Caught in Avalanche

Now that you’re scared, here are some useful online resources to refresh your knowledge:

  1. The K2 Elevated Education Videos gives you a good overview of everything from skinning to digging pits.
  2. The Jones Snowboards Cheatsheet.
  3. BCA’s Learn Section.
  4. University Corporation for Atmospheric Research forecast info.
  5. National Avalanche Center’s online training.

Enjoy the new pow and stay safe out there.

Inter Glacier, Mt. Rainier

Just got back from the Inter Glacier on Mt. Rainier. We opted to head to Rainier to escape Oregon’s rising freeze levels and to avoid the crowds at Paradise Glacier. After a dry approach for a few hours we finally hit the Glacier Basin and got our first glimpses of the Inter Glacier. The terrain was a little thinner than Corey, Kristian and I hoped for but still enough dust on crust to get some good turns in. This is definitely some of the best snow we’ve all ridden in years for October and I can tell the stoke level is growing as each storm rolls in.

Night Mission, Mt. Hood

Threw together a quick edit to get you stoked for the weekend! When you see the freeze levels rising the day after a huge October snow storm, you do what you have to do. You grab the yea-sayers, some bright ass video lights and you go find cold powder. Great riding with you Jay Swain and Cory Betzel!!!

It’s snowing.. but it’s still fall out there!

I headed up to the Annual Tilly Jane wood stacking party this weekend. This is a crucial volunteer event to help get the cabin ready for the upcoming backcountry season. About 50 volunteers came out and we stacked and cut about 6 cords of wood. To help get the stoke going even more, it was snowing the whole time! Even tho it’s snowing, the fall colors on the mountain bike ride down were fantastic. Get out there and enjoy them while they last!

Our warming weather…

Well… that’s the first time in a long time I’ve put my camera away on the descent because I was scared the elements would destroy it. Hoping to find a huge dump of snow around the 7.5k to 10k foot range on Mt Hood this past weekend, we instead found a torrential downpour. We made the best of it, braved the elements and had a great time. Thanks Eric Han and Kristian Gamiao for embracing the elements and getting the footage we could.

This does make you think tho… possibly even make you worried. Last year was the warmest year on record. Is this the fate of the PNW, will our winters really stay this warm and will our love for winter recreation slowly dwindle away. I sure hope not, but only we can contribute and help reverse the affects we’ve caused.

Riding By:
Eric Han, Jesse Hambley and Kristian Gamiao

Filmed By:
Jesse Hambley
Kristian Gamiao (GoPro)

 

Happy New Year!

P1090347

Jeff Snyder finding some untracked pow stashes on Bennett Pass, Mt. Hood.

It felt so great to break in the new year with some mellow touring on Mt. Hood and enjoying some knee deep powder tree runs. Looking forward to what 2015 brings!