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.
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!
(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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lastly, Youtube “Caught in Avalanche”
Now that you’re scared, here are some useful online resources to refresh your knowledge:
- The K2 Elevated Education Videos gives you a good overview of everything from skinning to digging pits.
- The Jones Snowboards Cheatsheet.
- BCA’s Learn Section.
- University Corporation for Atmospheric Research forecast info.
- National Avalanche Center’s online training.
Enjoy the new pow and stay safe out there.
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.
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 time!!! After the storm that hit the PNW last week, it left Mt. Hood with fresh powder mid-week and corn by the weekend. So Cory Betzel, Kristian Gamiao and I headed up to get our first fresh turns of the season. After dry approaching up to Silcox Hut it was a relief to find 6″ of soft snow on the skin up thru the canyons that lead to Palmer Glacier. By the time we hit the top of Palmer at 10am, the fresh snow turned into perfect corn and rode perfectly for about 1,500 feet.
I hope this is a foreshadow of what the rest of the season holds….
The skies opened and unleashed winter upon us this past weekend at Mt. Baker Splitfest. Luckily, we came up early on Friday and toured in blue bird conditions on Artist Point and the Swift Creek drainage. As for the rest of the weekend, high winds and white out conditions kept everyone doing short laps in tree protected areas. And in true Baker Splitfest fashion, a hoard turned out for the raffle party and over $9k was raised for NWAC. I was luckily enough to help capture the event for a second year in row. Until next year!
Compared to last years horrible snow season and dry approaches for 3 hours up to 6k feet, Mt. St. Helens feels like an entirely new mountain this year. On our first attempt this season, we climbed in beautiful blue bird conditions, except for some nasty 45-60mph winds. After reaching about 6k feet and watching the gullies cross load, we played it safe and rode some stable powder down.
With clear skies in the forecast again, Erin and I headed out for an overnight mission on Mt. St. Helens about a month later. Rising to a clear beautiful morning, we were met with a complete wall of white over 6k feet. After looking at the updated weather forecast and finding out the clouds were not going to retract, we decided to play it safe and enjoy a 3k foot run down in perfect powder.
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.
Eric Han, Jesse Hambley and Kristian Gamiao
Kristian Gamiao (GoPro)
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!