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Thread: Powder Chatter

  1. #1
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    Powder Chatter

    Locally, where are you finding good (or bad) snow conditions? What avalanche conditions are you finding? Add to this thread to help others find good (and safe) skiing.


    January 1, 2016. Skied up Stormy Mountain out of the Entiat River Valley via Preston Creek and then on west-facing ridge systems leading to the summit slopes. Stability was good mainly because the slopes are of moderate angle and because there simply isn't that much snow (about a foot down low at the 1700-foot level and closer to 2 feet above the 5,000-foot level). Snow was quite sugary and not very cohesive -- fine for now but it won't provide a supportive base when it's loaded with lots of new snow. For now, however, the powder skiing was superb. A few pictures:

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ID:	1710 Powder slopes on the ridges leading up Stormy Mountain
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ID:	1711 Pines and powder not far from the summit of Stormy
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ID:	1712 Valley Clouds flooding into the Entiat River Valley in mid-afternoon
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ID:	1713 Sunshine and powder -- the first day of the year doesn't get much better than this
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ID:	1714 Down the up staircase


    December 31, 2015. I skied with my daughters up a ridge system on the opposite side of the road from King Creek (quite a few miles north of Blewett Pass) near Sheep Mountain. Most of the ridge and bordering slopes face west. The lower-angle snow was soft and dreamy to ski. Because the snow stability was good, we ventured onto steeper west-facing slopes, and some of these slopes had a zipper crust that skied easily because it had been softened by the afternoon sunshine. Early in the morning or late in the day when the slopes lose the sun, that same crust will be frozen and tricky to ski.

    Prior to December 30. A number of people have contacted WenatcheeOutdoors to report they've been finding great powder on the east and north sides of Diamond Head at Blewett Pass.

  2. #2
    We missed you Andy! Fortunately you were still there in both spirit and somehow leading the way!

    https://goo.gl/photos/qSrWRyAcYgfQAq1F6

  3. #3
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    Nice pictures Coron. Sorry to be a day early in a lot years spacey in when I arrived to ski Stormy with you.
    Did you ski any of the north side? Looks like you at least descended the west ridge south of the one I skied. I probably should have skied that route but being the only trail breaker, I took what I thought was the most direct route.

  4. #4
    We didn't make it into the 25 Mile Creek drainage. We did ski from the top down the NW Ridge to below 6,000 feet before climbing back up and skiing out the way we came in. It was great skiing and much more open than above. I have a plan to go back and ski the other slopes next time. Nonetheless, pretty amazing to have 5400 vertical feet of perfect snow.

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    January 8, 2016. Wenatchee Foothills and Mission Ridge backcountry.

    The skiing in the Wenatchee foothills sure went to garbage fast. Two days ago the snow was gloppy, slow, and hard to turn in. Yesterday the snowpack had shrunk quite a bit, but the snow was faster and skied much better. I'm thinking I'll stay away from skiing in the lower foothills until we get a freeze that hardens up the snow -- right now the snowpack is thin enough and soft enough that skis are grounding out too easily. Jamie Tackman who was skiing up higher close to Mission Ridge noted: "I toured on Wednesday and Thursday and the blower is sure gone, it was actually slightly better yesterday, seems to have dried out a little."

  6. #6
    Bored and unable to ski, I drove up #2 Canyon on Saturday afternoon and notice several point releases that had taken the entire snowpack on steep hillsides down in wet loose snow avalanches. Some of the debris piles were impressive. Also, coyotes or cougars seem to be feasting on the mule deer, multiple mutilated carcasses were noted. Some of these were roadside so I don't know if they were roadkill that were then scavenged of dumped by poachers.

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    Sorry you're laid up and bored, Aaron.

    I last skied up Twin Peaks on Thursday afternoon and noticed these slides as well. Interesting how easily the snowpack slides on the grass once it wets out. We also noticed a lot of point releases on the north-facing hillsides of the lower Entiat Valley this past weekend.

    Some 7 or 8 years ago I was skiing off the north face of Chopper/Castle Rock (with the landowner's permission, incidentally) after warming weather and rain had wetted-out the snow. I booted up a ridge and then started skiing down a steep north-facing slope. I was quite concerned about the snow so I was cutting several turns and then traversing out of my own slide path, cutting several turns and traversing. One of those cuts started a slide and I was completely surprised by what took place. I was expecting anything that moved to be pretty slow moving. This was slow moving for all of two seconds or three seconds and then it was sliding on the slick grass and moving down the hillside like a Ferrari. A sizable debris pile mounded up in a thicket of brush and serviceberries some 600 vertical feet lower.

    "Whoa! That didn't play out like I was expecting," I thought to myself. I quickly traversed over to a mellower ridge and skied down that way, thanking Fate for teaching me a lesson with a kiss rather than a spank.

  8. #8
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    January 14, 2016, Diamond Head at Blewett Pass.

    Skied the east facing slopes off Diamond Head yesterday with my daughter. As is usually the case, the very top of these slopes where the rock and cliff bands sit were heavily windloaded and had a dense slab sitting on sugary snow down deeper. I didn't like the way it felt as I punched the top several feet with my ski pole and that was all I needed to stay off the top 150 to 200 vertical feet. Rather than playing the lottery there, we skied right next to the north ridge where the danger was quite the opposite to avalanches (scraping skis and bodies on rocks). Once down about 150 vertical feet we could traverse onto slopes of more moderate angle that had seen far less loading.

    Although it had been quite warm in Wenatchee and at Mission Ridge the day before, the snow quality was quite reasonable. The top snow was heavier and more supportive than the snow that was about three inches lower so there was some challenge in how the skis sped up as you gathered speed and then collapsed a bit into the snowpack as you turned, but it was still fun skiing.

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    January 17, 2016. Northwest slopes of Cannon Mountain
    Five of us skied up to the top of the Cannon Mountain Couloir today (elevation roughly 7,950 feet). We had no intention of skiing the couloir (too steep given the avalanche hazard) but, instead, carefully skied slopes of moderate angle ldown the northwest-facing slopes leading toward Mountaineer Creek and the Colchuck Lake Trailhead. Over the past few days about 2 feet of new snow has been deposited on these slopes. Up to the 6,600-foot level, there was a firmer underlying crust and the new snow was sliding easily on this crust. Up higher, the bonding of the new snow to the old snow was much better down deep (less of an ice crust underneath) but the top 6 or 7 inches of new was sliding easily on steeper rolls. The powder skiing was tremendous but we took a lot of care to stay off anything much steeper than 30 degrees.

  10. #10
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    January 21st, 2016. Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort.

    It was a powder day at Mission Ridge y'day! I had a blast skiing with ThanhVan Tran at the ridge, which was my first time skiing at the snow park. My first time downhill skiing in 15 years so it was a big piece of "humble pie."

    I would have to say, my giant tree trunk calves seem to get in the way with any rigid ski or snowboard boot. I heard through the grapevine that they have women's boots that dip down in the back for chicks with big calves. Any chatter on this, or information from anyone? I have always had a history of super painful cramping calves when they are stuck in the boots like a vice and am not sure how to get around that to be able to downhill ski without being super uncomfortable the entire time.

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