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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:22 am 
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Here's a couple pics from 2.21.09 at the southern end of Deso. Nice soft consolidated powder. Super fun to ride but a longish slog across a couple of lakes.

Powder is probably getting destroyed today, but the storm looks like it will end cold. :bananas:

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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:14 pm 
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Location: California
Right on jimw, nice to se you back! :)

Thanks for the post dave, looks like you guys scored! 8)

PJ, looks like you guys did well too. Is that a new Switch pack on Nattie? :thumbsup:


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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:19 pm 
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Location: Stanford, CA
Decided to check out Mt. Tallac on 2.21.09 for my second day aboard the split and second day riding in CA. Snow on the northern aspects was still quite good despite the warm temperatures and sun, though I can see now why split crampons will be a good investment for those slick skin tracks.

It seemed like nearly everyone I ran into knew about splitboard.com; the BC community around here is definitely great :thumpsup:.

A couple pics:
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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:57 am 
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
dishwasher-dave wrote:
Conditions are amazing right now. Blue bird, low avi danger, powder days are a special thing.

Speaking of avi danger...

There was a huge crown on Baldy next to Ralston. Since the debris was mostly covered by snow, I'm guessing it slid Mon or Tues, when Avi Danger was High. From a distance parts of that crown looked close to head high.


NoKnees wrote:
Just noticed that latest avy conditions posted with some recent slide activity... That late January rain crust is definitely still hanging around in some places causing some good sized slides with minimal effort at the mid elevations. Check the conditions and pick your lines wisely, especially with another 2-4ft of heavier snow falling over the next couple days...


Just wanted to comment on this. That rain crust does seem to hanging in there, causing some atypical instability for the Sierra snowpack. I'm sure all the CA folks have heard about the unfortunate avy fatality last weekend on Maggies. When I heard about that, it got me thinking about our tour on Tallac last week Thurs (2/19). Were we being safe?

We had a big storm cycle that had ended on Tuesday. Wednesday was fairly nice weather-wise, with no new snow. The avy report that day was rated at Considerable. The next day was bluebird, and the avy report had changed to Low. We figured that made sense, because the snowpack had had the previous day to consolidate. On our skin up, we saw no evidence of instability on the snow that we were skinning on. The "pole test" on the way up didn't show any obvious layers. No collapsing or shooting cracks. It seemed pretty bomber. Near the top, we looked across the way and saw debris from a natural slide that looked to be at least a day old.

Image

This was an E aspect, on a rollover over rocky terrain (similar to what Dave posted). We figured that slid during the storm. I think I might have gotten complacent because of the low avy report and lack of instability clues on the way up. We didn't dig a pit. In retrospect, I think we should have. However, if the unstable layer is that 3-8 feet down, we might not have even dug far enough to get to the layer. Also, my understanding is that pit stability tests are really only valid to about 5 feet.

The avy report for Friday was also Low. Both this report and the previous day's report did mention the weak rain crust layer, but said that it would likely take a very large trigger to get something to slide on that layer.

Then in the Saturday avy report, they noted that previous thinking about this layer being difficult to trigger a slide on was incorrect. A couple excerpts:

Quote:
Previous thinking that only very large triggers were sufficient to cause human triggered avalanches was shattered yesterday. Two avalanches were triggered yesterday by the weight of a single person on a slope. A third avalanche was reported to have occurred secondary to another large human triggered cornice collapse. Each avalanche was large enough to bury a person.

Recent observations from around the forecast area indicate that the storm snow from February 6 - 17 has gained considerable strength. This has moved the relatively weakest layer within the snowpack down to the base of the storm snow where a layer of faceted snow crystals sits on top of the January 22-23 rain crust. This is the source of the continuing deep slab instability with four human triggered avalanches with crowns 3 to 6 feet reported in the past two days.


Quote:
Today, despite the plethora of ski, snowboard, and snowmobile tracks that are visible on steep northerly aspects throughout the forecast area, human triggered avalanches with crowns 3 to 7 feet deep remain possible. Deep slab avalanches are notoriously hard to forecast for on both a regional scale and on an individual slope scale. Individuals should exercise great caution, gathering detailed information before choosing to travel on steep N-NE aspects in previously wind loaded or complex terrain.


So this made me realize that maybe I put a little too much faith in the avy report. Conditions during the time we were out seemed to actually be "generally low, but in some cases quite high with the potential to trigger a really large slide on a layer that may be hard to find". Scary stuff.

Just some food for thought. Be careful out there.


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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:30 am 
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Jim W, it might be tough to isolate a column and perform tests on something deeper than 5 feet, but you can still dig that deep and check for hardness differences in the layers, or even do a massive reuchblock/AK block. In any other place it would seem you were not really following procedures and taking big risks, and in fact you were. But in Tahoe, we are used to seeing our snowpack stabilize within a day or two of new snow, and coupled with the report from the avy center that day, everything looked to be good. But even the pros writing the avy report were lulled into complacency, as evidenced by their report the following day. I would guess this played a part in the Maggies incident, as it sound as if that guy was pretty experienced. I would also guess that this is a type of "spatial variation" - you can dig a pit that shows good stablility, but it may be possible to find that one spot that triggers something deep not too far away. Even when I am out with people more experienced than myself (and I have quite a bit), I get scoffed at for even suggesting digging a pit. It might be a good idea on any line with serious consequences in the near future, though, but still make sure you have some good exit options no matter the results until this layer heals.

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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:57 am 
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Location: Meyers, CA
Really good thoughts Jim. I also think the last couple of weeks in Tahoe have been really interesting and educational from a snow geek perspective. The Sat 2/21 SAC Advisory clearly backstepped a bit in terms of their earlier confidence. I believe this was b/c they received multiple observations of several skier triggered slides.

I wouldn't sweat too much not digging a pit on that Tallac climb. I would guess you would not have seen any startling results or shocking shear qualities that would have changed your mind. And ultimately you chose a line that worked for your party.

Deep slab instability (what that late Jan facet/crust layer has become for us) is super challenging b/c the deeper it gets buried the less likely it is to be triggered, but the bigger it could potentially go if it is triggered. It's a scary paradox for us.

Definitely a good time to practice good terrain choices and decision making.


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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 1:59 pm 
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Location: CA
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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:42 pm 
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To further comment on Jim's observations...

In addition to the crown Jim photographed, there was another in the same area at the same elevation (maybe 8k or so?) and the same aspect just a little to the North. However, looking out across desolation, we didn't see any crowns at the higher elevations where you can often see some real monsters. I think that up at the top of Mt. Tallac we were safely above the crust/facet rain layer and so digging up high wouldn't have found much. The danger probably didn't start untill 1500 below the summit or so, and that's a kinda scary concept to start out safe and then ride right through a danger zone. In fact, our exit chute lower down the mountain had already slid and was pretty crap riding.

mtnman - never let someone scoff you out of digging a pit. Tell 'em you're a geek and you just want to see what's down there & it'll just take a sec or two.

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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:45 pm 
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^^^Yeah, Storn, if I ever have doubts I'll dig. But generally if I even have any inclination that there might be some instability, I'll play it safe and avoid all avy terrain.
On another note - I would use extreme caution in the backcountry in the near future, and possibly the distant future. A monster slide at Squaw today took out a patroler (RIP) and likely went on the late Jan rain crust - 8-10 ft' crown. We should be getting several more feet before this storm winds down. Any snow steep enough to ride has the potential to go ginormous.

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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:04 am 
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Location: Tahoe
Holy dumpage :headbang: :headbang: :headbang: 38" at the house.

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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:05 pm 
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Location: deep on the the west shore
Tallac 3.10.09
a little wind affected elsewhere so why not hit the cross, riders left entrance.

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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:41 am 
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A few pics from last weekend.

Early lap on Waterhouse on Sat. Dave takes an "energy smoke break" on top.

Image

Great snow, lots of tracks. Shoulda stayed in the bc that day; instead went to the Heave, where there were even more tracks. Tried to avoid some of them with the Gville run at the end of the day, which was great for maybe the first 1k. Then it turned to nasty crust, then dirt and a long hike out, followed by waiting at the bus stop in the dark only to have the hourly bus decide to not pick us up. Sweet.

Image

I know people at the Heave do this run all the time, and many of them probably don't even consider it "real" bc. But it is. Here's a pic of some avy debris in one of the main bowls people like to ride. Looks like this probably went on maybe Thurs. Note the rider at the left of the debris for scale.

Image

Sunday, hooked up with bcrider and powderjunkie and headed out to Angora. The plan was to hit Halls of the Gods. We started about 1/2 hour too late. We got to the top of Echo and there were already 5 people on top of Halls. Oh well.

Humongous cornices on Echo:

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3 guys that got to Halls before us:

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They reported that there were also already 2 tracks in it before they got there. BCR and PJ decided to bail. BCR mentioned some BS about having "already gotten his couloir fix". Well, I hadn't gotten mine, so I decided I was going to drop it anyway. I had driven up separately and so wasn't on a schedule.

We also saw 2 other splitboarders who had gotten there just ahead of us, and were dropping into mini-Halls, which appeared untracked. I found out later that this was none other than BGnight:

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Here's the view from the top of the rider's left entrace to Halls, where I dropped in:

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Looking across at Cathederal peak, at what I believe is the line Jeremy Jones rode in My Own Two Feet. Serious.

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I made one turn and then tried out my newest snow-stability test, which is to plow the nose of the board deep into the snow, thereby initiating a sudden headplant. This has the dual effect of creating a load on the snow pack, while simultaneously allowing for a close-up view of any suspect layers.

It looked good to go.

Once I adjusted to the fact that the snow was still going to be deep pow, even with 5 tracks in it, it was great fun. Sweet pow all the way down the chute, a little more consolidated on the apron, but fun and you can really open it up. Got down to the bottom, and the 3 skiiers had already set the skin track out. Score!

At this point I had already pretty much decided that I had to do another lap.

Looking back up at Halls from the bottom:

Image

Another angle on the riders right entrance, which looks like it might be just filled in enough (or more likely, just enough to cover some sucker rocks):

Image

Partway up the skin track, here's a good view of mini-Halls. The narrower chute to lookers right of that was untracked, so that's where I decided to go for lap 2.

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Happiness is climbing in someone else's skin track.

Image

Lap 2 was great. Untracked pow in a nice line, then again onto the speedy apron below. I ran into 3 guys from the TGR forum there who had just done Halls, so we skinned out together. Then rode Angora bowl down to the lake. I was glad to have BCR/PJ's tracks, because there are a lot of cliff bands to negotiate, which aren't obvious from above.

Image

Side note, at the top of the last climb I found that my skin had a huge chunk of solid ice stuck to it! Wonder what caused that? I've had snow glop to my skins before, but never ice. It was probably in the 30's most of the day. I had to scrape it off with my Whippet!

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 Post subject: Re: Tahoe 08/09
PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:14 pm 
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jimw wrote:
I made one turn and then tried out my newest snow-stability test, which is to plow the nose of the board deep into the snow, thereby initiating a sudden headplant. This has the dual effect of creating a load on the snow pack, while simultaneously allowing for a close-up view of any suspect layers.


I've been doing that one for years. It's not a day of snowboarding til I've done it once.


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