seems like the ten mile mosquito range is where it's at this spring.
It's not to shabby
great TR - fun reading/viewing!
oh yeah, and you guys got balls!!
man that looks like fun. sounds like a great trip with full value in the mountains. thanks for sharing this!
I like doing enchainmentss (mine are climbing ones, but same difference) - it's good to push your body and mind.
We're always equipped and I always run folks not just through a function check but also a range check of their beacons. If I'm unsure of their ability to use it then I'll go through a whole other process. With Tyler it's different, because I'm one of the snow safety guys that trained him initially.
In the pic of Pacific in the beginning only the far lookers left slide is from a true north face. All the others came from the wall of the Pac-Crystal saddle which faces SE. The Cooly is super protected.
Those slides were wet and happened with the last storm, it was very warm and dumped on top of a real slick sun preped surface. It took only a little sun. We did cross through some old debris and it was frozen death cookies. Basically between my snow pack and weather obs that went back through the week prior and a few tests on the pillow, I was very confident with the snow. The trick was hitting it the right time of day, I was really worried that the SE face on Crystal that we climbed was going to be soupy and dangerous. The wind kept that locked up thankfully. As well as all solar aspects we encountered.
The NW face of Crystal had one big pillow that we avoided, but overall that face is wind stripped and we were in more danger of cliffing out or a big fall than anything else. It wasn't warm enough for wet conditions and the pack had settled nearly eliminating our deep worries.
We did not do a Rutschblock or a CT. Our baseline data was in this case collected throughout the week prior from all aspects that we've travelled in. The worry here was potential wind slab build up and the possible sheer surfaces under and/or maybe within that slab. The pillow up high showed no slab quality, and consistant bonding to the old snow. I observed that with a pole cut into the top of the pillow to the old snow. The old snow was not the same slick, sun cooked surface because it is so protected. We made this observation on a scouting tour and was confirmed upon our further examination. The debris below the north couloir was almost definitely the effect of warm tempuratures and the steep angle (~60deg at the top) sluffing the wet(ter) near surface layers.
If there had been slab quality, an Extended Column Test would have not only been easier than a RB but more practical than a CT. The ECT tests not only the compression strength but also the propagation. With this comes further examination of the shear plane if any.
No visual check is "simple" despite your's or anyone elses belief. It's not all about tests, it also has a lot to do with how the snow feels under and around you, how it reacts to your movements and the stressors placed upon it by yourself and the surrounding environment. These are all observations made through out the length of a tour, not just when you are about to ski. Just like your system for moving solo up a wall, I have a system for analyzing weather and snow conditions. And I don't think I have to tell you that it has been hard won.
That being said, I'm not here for anyones approval or to take your subtle criticism. I thought I would share some photos and text of a fun and challenging trip. If you would like to continue to discuss my tatics or to continue your subtle attmepts to flame me, please feel free to email me. Cheers.
Good thing we were skinning up on frozen Spring snow and that the new snow wasn't 60cm. Oh ya and slab quality check. I know it's easy to criticize when you're in a different snow climate a few thousand miles away, but please try to resist. I'm not saying AIARE is wrong, I'm saying you can't convince me you're the only one that's right.
P.S. Nice name drop and numbers spray. I suppose we should dig multiple pits in a grid format across faces so we can account for "normal" spatial variability as well.
Mayflower is great access. The west facing snow has been terrible on my try's. The Pacific North Couloir is reputed to be wicked. good work. Sounds like a great ski traverse.
Great route, great TR. I haven't heard of too many people skiing the North Colouir.
And the avalanche safety discussion makes for interesting theater (taking nothing away from its seriousness). I'm far from an expert, and hence would never consider leading a trip like this, but I would be surprised to hear of a severe deep slab (>100 cm) instability persisting so late in the season (barring recent, sustained snowfall)...and I can pretty much assure you that the Tenmile range only sees a 300cm base in the wettest years.
That said, springtime deep snow tests will give you, at a minimum, another data point.
Great vision, great execution. I've been contemplating skiing Pacific's N Couloir for a few years now and it looks like you hit it in perfect condition.
Clearly you know what you're doing avy-wise. A pit or RB test would have been superfluous given your knowledge of the snowpack, not to mention potentially misleading, remembering that multiple accidents in CO this year happened when people dug pits, found no weak layers, and then assumed this was the case for the entire exposure. Variation in micro-terrain is a huge factor and a false-stable result can lull you into a false sense of security. Holistic awareness is the name of the game and you clearly had that. There is a big difference between our continental snowpack in Winter and in Spring, some people have a hard time understanding that.
Cheers, nice write up.