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Everything posted by Dan_Miller

  1. Help me identify this climbing movie

    This film by Steve Marts is entitled Fairweather because it depicts a climb of an un-named 10,000' peak in the Fairweather Group. I have a VHS copy of the film which I cherish. The film is at once both joyful and somber. Al Givler and Dusan Jagersky were my original climbing instructors, and mentors in the mid 1970's when I began to climb. Their death nearly caused me to reassess the whole alpine climbing notion. I've not been able to quit in all the intervening years apparently.
  2. Very good work guys! No doubt one to remember. There's a reason it's truly one of the Fifty Classics in NA. Thanks for the fine TR.
  3. Rescues in NCNP

    From this morning's NPS Morning Report: North Cascades National Park (WA) Four Climbers Rescued In Two Incidents The park’s search and rescue team recently responded to two separate mountaineering accidents, evacuating four people from remote mountain peaks. On Friday, July 13th, after they’d successfully navigated through the remote northern Picket Range and climbed several peaks, a party of three climbers requested assistance. One of the three hiked out to report that his two partners had been hit and injured by falling snow from a steep wall above their camp in a basin below Luna Peak. Rangers evacuated the injured 29-year-old male and 29-year-old female climbers via a National Park Service-contracted helicopter from HiLine Helicopters to Marblemount, where the man was transferred to a local hospital by ambulance and the woman was released. On Saturday, July 14th, a party of seven was climbing the south side route of Sahale Peak. One member of the party inadvertently pulled out a large boulder, which struck him and then a member of the party below. Another member of the party hiked to Cascade Pass and contacted a wilderness ranger who launched a rescue response. Climbing rangers approached the two injured climbers on foot from Boston Basin and by helicopter from Marblemount. The critically injured 24-year-old woman was moved from the glacier by a National Park Service-contracted helicopter from HiLine Helicopters in a short-haul maneuver, and then transferred to an Airlift Northwest medical helicopter at a road site. She was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and was reported to have multiple fractures but was in stable condition. The 25-year-old male climber, who had minor injuries, was also flown out of the backcountry, but was released. Digital images of the Sahale Peak rescue are available for download and use at the park’s Flickr site. [submitted by Charles Beall, Acting Superintendent]
  4. Scarpa Rebel

    Ueli's envy no doubt.
  5. Podiatrist or Sports Orthopedic referral?

    Richard T.Bouche, DPM The Sports Medicine Cinic. Richard T. Bouche, DPM Frequently a Seattle area Top Doc.
  6. swamp feet/blister in touring boots

    Hydropel sports ointment may be of some real benefit, it is for me (admittedly fairly blister prone).
  7. best of cc.com [TR] Black Peak - NW face 5/19/2012

    Superlatives fail to express it.
  8. [TR] Mount Baker - North Ridge 5/6/2012

    Thanks for a fine TR on what has always for me been a great route on a big snowy/icy mountain, even if it was somewhat of a wallow-fest.
  9. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Nine feet of snow at Washington Pass. Some worthwhile snowpack information contained in this annual pre-clearing assessment. Here is the most recent North Cascades Hwy. snow clearing effort for 2012 from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson, and Dustin Terpening. Photos: Hi all, This is the first email of the season and yes, it’s to tell you we went up to do the spring reopening assessment this week. I’ll jump to the end – we plan to start clearing work the last week of this month and hope to have Tootsie serving cinnamon rolls the first week in May. Last year, you may recall, we started clearing on April 11 and didn’t get the road open until May 25 – the second latest opening ever. Now to the story: The avalanche crew and some maintenance folks met at the Early Winters information center at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. It was clear and cold – about 13 degrees - which is what they wanted. They were back down and packing up the vehicles and gear again before noon because it was already 35 degrees and the hillsides had become more and more unstable as the thermometer rose. Two avalanche technicians, Brandon Levy and Harlan Sheppard, were dispatched on snowmobiles to Washington Pass to dig a snow pit and do the technical snow-layer analysis and then to take the snow depth measurements from there over to Rainy Pass. The second group ventured off in a snow cat to do the observations and snow depth measurements up to Washington Pass. Avalanche Control Chief Mike Stanford, avalanche tech Monica Morin, Area 3 Maintenance Superintendent Dean Hills, Twisp Supervisor Don Becker and Twisp Lead tech Deed Fink shared the cold, bouncy, 3 to 5 mph, diesel fumed experience for the next several hours. (Not as much fun as you imagine it would be - I've done it.) What they found was much closer to the normal range of snow depths than they measured last year. At the Silver Star Gate, for example, the snow was 3.8 feet deep. Last year it was 4.6. Below Cutthroat Ridge chutes 6, 7 and 8, there was 16 feet of snow over the road. Last year it was 20. The snow in Spire Gulch/Spiral Gulch/The Hairpin (you choose your favorite) was 7 feet deep on Wednesday and 10 feet deep last year. At Liberty Bell Mountain, LB 1 and 2 were only 25 feet deep (this is a little misleading because the snow in the chutes that hasn’t come down yet, will likely double the depth by the time we come back). LB 3, which showed some evidence of recent slides, was 40 feet deep. Last year the highway below all three was covered to a depth of 60 feet. And just because I’ve got them and you probably want to know because I include them every year – Washington Pass - 7.5’ at the centerline of the pavement this year compared with 10’ last year. For Rainy Pass – 10’ last year and 8.3’ this year. You also need to be reminded that after the measurements from last year were taken, we got another 6 to 10 feet of snow before and during the reopening... The snow pit revealed some positive news. You are aware that there have been a lot of avalanches in the Cascades this winter. With the La Nina pattern, we got a lot of snow and a lot of rain. Together those produce layering that encourages snow to slide. In Mike’s words “We found a buried weak surface hoar layer that has been a problem throughout the region this winter, however, what we saw in the snow pit is that this layer does seem to be “healing”- that is, collapsing on itself.” For those of us who aren’t familiar with the 20+ varieties of snow or how to whisper to it – I’m told that means it’s become more stable, not less so. Obviously, Mike's crew will continue monitoring for stability before we put crews or equipment under a chute with snow in it. No one stopped by to chat, but Mike says they saw snowmobilers and cross country skiers. He also apologized that there were no pictures featuring Pink Floyd (the flamingo), as he’s recuperating at home from a broken leg. Mike says he should be back on the team by the time the reopening begins… Of course, that reopening can’t begin until the avalanche potential on Stevens Pass diminishes (like always). The weather also has to cooperate - the equipment has to be available (and operating) - the crew has to be available (and healthy). And don’t worry about the budget – the Governor and legislature committed to fully funding winter maintenance which includes reopening the North Cascades. Go check out the pictures on FlickR and Dustin is also posting them on a new site called Pinterest. Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629175577076/ You will note that two photos of Spiral Gulch from the day before the assessment are credited to Cliff Schwab. You may also recall he and Joy were cross country skiing there last year when he took this amazing shot of Spiral Gulch - www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/5613439648/in/set-72157607585733589. (It tallied as one of the most popular pictures on our WSDOT site!) (NO, I don't know if he's available to shoot your wedding - and NO, I don't know if Tootsie will cater it, but I do know you CAN get married at the Forest Service's Washington Pass Overlook, but you can't reserve it exclusively, so plan on extra, uh, guests.) (whew) Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/wsdot/north-cascades-highway/ I won’t be jamming your email in box with updates for another two weeks unless, of course, something changes! Jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov and Dustin.terpening@wsdot.wa.gov
  10. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Once again, today's (Thursday, 05/10/12) official opening announcement from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson and Dustin Terpening. Seven weeks of great work! Now we can have fun, and the Methow Valley can prosper. Here's the official word! Washington State Department of Transportation - NEWS North Central Region – PO Box 98, Wenatchee, WA. 98807-0098, 509-667-3000 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 10, 2012 Contact(s): Jeff Adamson WSDOT Communications 509-667-2815 (Wenatchee) Dustin Terpening, WSDOT Communications, 360-757-5997 (Burlington) SR 20 North Cascades Highway reopened today at noon The second latest opening in 35 years. WENATCHEE – It took a full seven weeks to find the North Cascades Highway beneath what, in places, added up to 60 feet of snow. Crews and drivers celebrated at noon Thursday, as both east and west side gates swung open just in time for a forecasted sunny spring weekend and Winthrop’s annual 49’er Days festival. Washington State Department of Transportation crews began the clearing process on State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway, on March 26, two and a half weeks earlier than La Nina allowed crews to start last year. Despite 8 more feet of total snow this winter and an extra day of clearing work, crews met their target opening date. “The crews are really pleased that the highway is open for this weekend’s 49’er Days festival in Winthrop,” said Don Becker, WSDOT Twisp Maintenance Supervisor. “We all live up here and know how great it will be to have the highway open this year.” The noon reopening allows crews necessary time to "sweep" the entire 37-mile winter closure zone for sand, rocks and debris between milepost 134, seven miles east of Diablo Dam on the west side of 4,855-foot-high Rainy Pass, and milepost 171, nine miles west of Mazama below 5,477-foot-high Washington Pass. "Opening the gates at noon gives us the margin we need so the first drivers over the passes make their trip safely," Becker said. The first drivers on the North Cascades Highway today found the road conditions bare and dry or bare and wet across the entire route with high temperatures in the 60s and a freezing level of 6,500 feet. Forecasts call for even better weather through the weekend. Today’s reopening is the fifth latest since the highway first opened 40 years ago, on Sept. 2, 1972, but three of those late openings were recorded in the four years immediately after 1972. Last year’s May 25 reopening was the second latest on record. The latest reopening was recorded on June 14, 1974; it reopened on May 16 in 1975 and on May 21 in 1976. Two years ago, in 2010, crews opened the road on April 16 after only three and a half weeks of clearing work. The highway closed for the winter on Nov. 15, 2011. It typically opens between the last week in March and the first week in May. The earliest opening ever was March 10, 2005. One drought year, four years after the highway first opened in 1976, it remained open all winter. For more information, including a history of opening and closing dates, visit the North Cascades web page www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/northcascades ###
  11. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Here's what we've been waiting for, and it will occur in about two hours. A brief update (Thurs., 05/10/12) from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson. To slow down the flow of phone calls - Yes, the North Cascades Highway is opening at noon and it is suitable for vehicles of all types including motorcycles and pickups pulling fifth wheels. More later. Jeff
  12. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Today's update (Mon., 05/07/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson and Dustin Terpening. Hi all, East met West about 11 o’clock this morning at Bridge Creek (MP 159.5)! I still can’t give you a specific day or time for the reopening, but midday on Thursday is looking better and better after today. The two Kodiak snow blower operators – Bob Hopfield from the west and Jesse Gurney from the east, completed a single cut through the 1-1/2 miles that separated them in about four hours. Yes, there are photos posted on flickR taken by Twisp Supervisor Don Becker who then used his pickup to give you a feel for just how wide a single cut really is (or isn’t!) and how deep some of the drifts were in the neighborhood below the Whistler Mountain avalanche chutes. www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/ The rest of the next couple days will be devoted to the widening, initially the section opened today from Whistler (MP 160.5) to Rainy Pass (MP 157). There’s still pull-outs that need to be cleared, ditching that needs to happen so the melting snow doesn’t flood the highway and some guardrail that suffered slide damage that all has to happen before the reopening. Wednesday, the avalanche crew is going to do their thing to bring down any snow still in the chutes that three days of warm weather may have loosened. It’s likely the two can meet on Monday, if weather and equipment cooperate, but the progress points are only a single snow blower wide (about 8’), so there’s lots of widening, ditching and guardrail repair before it’s ready for traffic. While it’s legal for bicycles to use the highway because they’re not licensed motor vehicles – crews from both sides tell us it’s getting crowded up there (heaviest traffic on the west side) and it’s a big concern for our operators since bikes are hard to spot in the mirrors of a loader or a blower. The widening, ditching, guardrail and jersey barrier work is going on all day Tuesday and with avalanche blasting planned for Wednesday (along with the necessary clean up) – this is just not a good time to bicycle the North Cascades – Wait for Thursday! As I said Friday = Think cinnamon rolls and 49er Days and keep your fingers crossed! jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov (509) 667-2815 dustin.terpening@wsdot.wa.gov (360) 757-5997 For you Pink Floyd (the safety flamingo) fans – Zoe at the Bellingham Herald did a story about him: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2012/05/05/2509685/plastic-flamingo-warns-of-danger.html
  13. Not to be an overly nervous Nellie but, as we head into a relatively fair weather weekend some of us (me included) planned some backcountry skiing. This special notice from our friends at the Northwest Avalanche Center may be of concern to many. Detailed Avalanche Forecast Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center Seattle Washington 1308 PM PDT Fri May 04 2012 This forecast applies to back country avalanche terrain below 7000 feet and does not apply to developed ski areas or highways. Please note that regular forecasts for this season have ended. Special forecasts will be issued this spring only if unusually severe avalanche conditions develop. This special forecast applies from Friday May 4th through Tuesday May 8th and will be updated as conditions warrant. Zone Avalanche Forecasts Olympics, Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie Pass, White Pass, WA Cascades near and west of crest - north of Stevens Pass, WA Cascades near and west of crest - between Stevens and Snoqualmie Pass, WA Cascades near and west of crest - between Snoqualmie and White Pass, WA Cascades near and west of crest - south of White Pass, East slopes WA Cascades - north of Stevens Pass, East slopes WA Cascades - between Stevens and Snoqualmie Pass, East slopes WA Cascades - between Snoqualmie and White Pass, East slopes WA Cascades - south of White Pass, Mt Hood area Forecast Friday Through Tuesday: Strong spring storms this week have deposited significant new snow amounts above about 5 to 6000 feet. This snow should become increasingly unstable through the weekend with gradually increasing sunshine and warming expected. Expect locally high avalanche danger developing above about 5 to 6000 feet, especially on sun exposed terrain and higher elevations and on the volcanoes. Snowpack Analysis Recent Weather: Several strong fronts and associated upper level troughs have moved across the Pacific Northwest since Sunday. Snow levels have remained relatively low throughout the week mainly near 3-4000 feet in the north Cascades and 4 to 5000 feet in south Cascades and Mt Hood area. Total precipitation amounts over the past four days (Monday through early Friday morning) along most west slope areas and volcanoes range from about 2 to 3 inches of water equivalent with Timberline on Mt Hood receiving the greatest amount of 4.5 inches in four days and 5.2 inches in 5 days! Less water was received along the east slopes, mostly between .5 to 1 inch. This precipitation has mainly been in the form of snow above 4000 feet in the north and 5000 feet in the south. Recent snowfall totals during the week range from 1 to 2 feet of snow at study plots from 4-6000 feet. Significantly greater new snow is likely above 6-7000 feet, especially on the volcanic peaks. Snow Pack and Avalanche Activity: There have been numerous field observations over the past several days, especially from WSDOT crews working above Chinook Pass in the central WA Cascades and from patrol at Alpental and Mt Hood Meadows ski areas. Crews on Chinook Pass reported by early afternoon, they had already received about 15 inches of new snow through the day. This new snow became increasingly wet and unstable through the afternoon with natural slides releasing on most slopes even with mostly cloudy and cool conditions. Slides were also releasing on relatively low angled slopes of about 30 degrees, with most slides remained above a thin crust layer. However of potentially greater concern is the snowpack below the recent snow and thin crust layer. Below the new recent snow and any remaining thin crust, about 1 to 2 meters of large grain wet to saturated snow remains above the older finer grained winter snowpack. Control results and cornice drops earlier in the week did produce some larger wet slab releases involving these deep layers of wet snow. Other field observations from both Alpental and Mt Hood Thursday as well as back country skier reports this week confirm the deep layer of wet unconsolidated snow ranging from 1 to 2 meters. Just received snowpack conditions from Alpental pro patrol Friday morning. New recent snow becoming wet with ski cuts easily triggering wet avalanches. These slides are running far and fast and entraining wet snow underneath as well as carrying over shallow angled terrain and benches. What does this mean? It means we do not have a stable spring snowpack as yet. It also means that slides releasing easily in the new snow from this week, up to 1 to 2 feet or more, may break down and involve the deeper 3 to 6 feet of wet snow layers. These slides would become very large very quickly, travel fast and far and be potentially destructive! Cornice failures also remain a major concern, as these may trigger large wet slab releases on slopes below. Detailed Forecasts Friday and Saturday The coolest air mass of the week is over us Friday and into early Saturday as an upper level low pressure system moves through the area. This should maintain light snow showers and moderate onshore westerly flow through early Saturday with a diminishing trend in showers overnight and early Saturday. High pressure should begin building Saturday with modest rises in freezing levels. However, sun breaks should allow for daytime temperatures to respond quickly. This weather should continue to wet and weaken the recent snow received this week resulting in continued unstable conditions. Both natural and triggered slides should remain likely, especially during the warmer part of the day and on slopes receiving direct sunshine. Such slides could entrain deeper wet snow as they descend especially in chutes, gullies and canyons that may funnel larger avalanches from higher terrain. Concern #1: Wet loose or isolated wet slab avalanches especially mid and lower elevations and sun exposed terrain. Concern #2: Cornice failures. Concern #3: Glide cracks where full snow pack releases to smooth underlying surface such as rock faces are possible. Sunday through TuesdayMonday High pressure should become strong over the region Sunday through Tuesday. This should cause significant warming with freezing levels climbing to 9-10,000 feet late Sunday and 10-11,000 feet by Monday into Tuesday. Mostly sunny warm weather with light winds are expected Sunday through Tuesday with high clouds spreading over the area Tuesday. This should cause deep wet surface conditions in most areas. As a result, natural wet loose or wet slab avalanches should remain likely during this period, especially from late morning through the afternoon hours each day. Cornice failure remains likely as well. Some wet slides may become large and become potentially destructive, running to the valley floors. Even travel on relatively flat terrain at lower elevations may be dangerous as slides beginning at higher elevations could easily become very large and quickly reach lower elevation areas. As a result of this potentially large spring avalanche cycle, back country travel is not recommended late this weekend into early next week. As freezing levels rise, the avalanche danger should quickly spread to higher elevations, especially on the volcanoes where more recent snow this week as accumulated. Concern #1: Wet loose or isolated wet slab avalanches especially mid and lower elevations and sun exposed terrain. Concern #2: Cornice failures. Concern #3: Glide cracks where full snow pack releases to smooth underlying surface such as rock faces are possible. Backcountry travelers should be aware that elevation and geographic distinctions are approximate and that a transition zone between dangers exists. Remember there are avalanche safe areas in the mountains during all levels of avalanche danger. Contact local authorities in your area of interest for further information. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Warning = Extreme or high avalanche danger occurring or expected to occur within 12 hours: at or below 4000 feet in the Olympics and/or WA Cascades; at or below 5000 feet in the Mt. Hood Area.
  14. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Getting Close! Today's (Fri., 05/04/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson and Dustin Terpening. Hi all, Week number six (Day 24-Thursday) ended like it started on Monday with cold temperatures and snow (but no broken blowers!) It has also produced the first almost, sort of, maybe “reopening date” prediction – next Thursday (or…Friday.) Let's hope so, for Ski In's sake! Gary Claybo (Lead Tech - Mt. Vernon) reports that Bob Hopfield and his Kodiak has cut to Bridge Creek at MP 159.5 through 7 to 10 feet of snow about two miles past Rainy. On the eastside, Don Becker (Supv.-Twisp) reports progress to Whistler at MP 161 about a mile and a half past Washington, so the two crews are about a mile and a half apart. It’s likely the two can meet on Monday, if weather and equipment cooperate, but the progress points are only a single snow blower wide (about 8’), so there’s lots of widening, ditching and guardrail repair before it’s ready for traffic. The work is slow because the Kodiak snow blower “mouths” are 6’ high. The snow on the road is 7 to 10’ deep. When a Kodiak is chewing into a pile of newly fallen snow, it can take on a pile that’s 8’ deep because it’s lighter, softer and collapses by itself. When the snow has been accumulating all winter, it more closely resembles concrete and doesn’t collapse. That’s why we use the caterpillars to cut the piles down to 6’. Needless to say – it also takes longer to clear because the blower is blowing snow that’s much heavier and denser than say the fresh stuff that comes down the avalanche chutes on Stevens the same day it fell from the sky. The cold and snow all week made working conditions less than comfortable, but it kept the slopes stable and despite a broken U Joint on an eastside Kodiak and a broken bolt on the Westside Kodiak – crews made good progress. The forecast for early next week is warm. That should work in our favor, too. We would prefer empty avalanche chutes when the road reopens, so a couple days of warm weather suggests a significant avalanche control effort Wednesday, allowing a “safe” Thursday reopening. Think cinnamon rolls and 49er Days and keep your fingers crossed! jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov (509) 667-2815 dustin.terpening@wsdot.wa.gov (360) 757-5997 There are new pictures from the week posted on the flickr site. www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/ I'm also updating the map on the NCH spring opening web page and posting the "bureaucratic version" of the week's progress report. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/updates2012.htm
  15. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Today's (Tues., 05/01/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson and Dustin Terpening. Hi all, Week number six (Day 21-Monday) got underway with cold temperatures, snow and a broken snow blower. Gary Claybo (Lead Tech - Mt. Vernon) said that on the west side, it warmed all the way up to 34 degrees at Rainy Pass. Bob Hopfield and his Kodiak cleared another mile through 7 to 10 feet of snow to MP 158, about a half mile past Rainy. It's going to take another day to finish the widening. At that elevation (4,855') the precipitation that was rain in the Skagit Valley came down on the crew in the form of heavy, wet snow. On the eastside, Don Becker (Supv.-Twisp) said the day began with the loss of one of the Kodiak snow blowers - a U-Joint broke. Don drove to Wenatchee, got the part and only missed half of "The Voice" by the time he got back home late for dinner, so they expected to complete the repairs and be back to full strength (two Kodiaks) today. Despite a high temperature of only 37 degrees and snow at 5,477' all day, The crew made pretty good progress, anyway. The cold temperatures stabilized the slopes allowing the D-8 cat (from Lloyd Logging) to finish its work through the Liberty Bell zone and it was sent back to Twisp at the end of the day. The pavement is now visible (even though the widening isn't finished) all the way to Washington Pass! That means the two crews are five miles and only a couple avalanche zones (smaller ones) apart. That is good news, but with the snow, the forecast for more all week, and the potential for more equipment breakdowns always looming - no one is ready to make any reopening predictions yet. (Let's see how the rest of the week progresses...) Don has some photos of the broken Kodiak, but the camera and computer decided not to play well together this morning, so you'll have to wait till tonight or tomorrow for fresh photos from Liberty Bell. We know there were a lot of you who made plans anticipating the highway would be open this week. Thanks for being patient (and forgiving) and try to enjoy the unexpected opportunity on US 2 to visit Leavenworth or swing through Wenatchee during the Apple Blossom Festival this week (elephant ears are a forbidden fruit I only succumb to once a year - at Memorial Park!) Keep your fingers crossed! jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov (509) 667-2815 dustin.terpening@wsdot.wa.gov (360) 757-5997
  16. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Today's (Thurs., 04/26/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson and Dustin Terpening. Hi all, The weather this (Thursday) morning was awful, rain becoming snow the higher up you went. That ramped up the avalanche danger to the point that the avalanche crew pulled everyone off the mountain. It means the clearing on the eastside won't reach Washington Pass as hoped. Right now, the clearing ends in the 60+ feet of snow below LB #3. The westside crew's progress ends just below Rainy Pass. The net effect is that the pass won't be opening next week, but hopefully early the following week. The target has always been to have it open for Winthrop's 49'er Days (May 12 & 13) which is still realistic if weather and equipment cooperate. I'm having three pictures from yesterday's work up to Liberty Bell posted on the flickr site. www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/ I'm also updating the map on the NCH spring opening web page and posting the "bureaucratic version" of the week's progress report. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/updates2012.htm Since I've got your attention, I'll offer a pair of youtube videos for your edification - our compatriots down Snoqualmie put one together on the construction work this summer and the traffic impact that it's going to bring. As difficult as it may be to imagine - it's VERY cool. I've been drawing attention all week in my orange nikes and golf shirt to gain attention for Work Zone Safety week. This video isn't nearly as much fun, but the subject is a serious one. As I mentioned in the last update, fishermen and bicyclists are calling to see if the highway is open yet, so if you have an opening day fishing fan or an early season bicyclist among your friends – please forward this along to them. Here’s the link so they can sign up for these e mails: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/WADOT/subscriber/new? Thanks! jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov (509) 667-2815 dustin.terpening@wsdot.wa.gov (360) 757-5997
  17. Eldorado Approach

    My experience for many years now aligns with Dan's (DPS). That's not to say that a torrent wont be far below you however.
  18. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Today's (Wed., 04/25/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson and Dustin Terpening. Hi all, The highway WILL NOT BE OPEN by this weekend, despite rumors and wishes to the contrary. As of today, the NW Region crew has yet to reach Rainy Pass and the North Central Region crew is still a couple huge avalanche chutes shy of reaching Washington Pass. If both crews can make it that far by close of business, this week, that still leaves them five miles of 7 to 10’ snow apart, and no, hiking those five miles carrying a bike on your back is an unwise choice. (We, however, would likely find you with the snow blower in another week or so.) On the Westside, Bob Hopfield and the Skykomish Kodiak snow blower continue pushing east from MP 156 which is about a half mile shy of Porcupine Creek. The snow is still soft, but at seven feet, it’s right about the limit of what a snow blower can “eat” without help, so he got some. Twisp Supervisor Don Becker sent the avalanche crew’s snow cat with its plow blade over to cut/compact the piles of snow on the road down to a more manageable height. Mt. Vernon Lead Tech Gary Claybo says the rest of the Westside crew’s ditching operations are going well and another crew is repairing guardrail damaged by rock fall and snow slides during the winter. On the eastside work continues through LB #1 and LB #2. You might want to check out the new flickr picture of the cleanup of a natural slide that came in down in the Annex yesterday. They had to clear it before the crews working Liberty Bell could get out. www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/ If you look at the sky in the photos from the past couple days, you’ll note it was beautiful Monday and by today, downright yukky. (Fortunately, the heaviest blast of snow and rain didn’t hit until after 4, but what they find tomorrow could be interesting… The hope is still to reopen sometime the first week of May, if everything cooperates. jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov (509) 667-2815 dustin.terpening@wsdot.wa.gov (360) 757-5997 PS. We (and the Forest Service and Park Service folks, too) have been getting deluged with phone calls from fishermen and bicyclists who either want to know, or say they’ve heard that the highway will be open by this weekend. If you have an opening day fishing fan or an early season bicyclist among your friends – please forward this along to them. Here’s the link so they can sign up for these e mails: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/WADOT/subscriber/new? Thanks!
  19. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Today's (Tues., 04/24/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson and Dustin Terpening. Hi all, Eastside – Don Becker reports that Duane Wolley on the Kodiak and Scott Reagles on the D-6 cat worked from the Annex (Spiral Gulch) around to Liberty Bell #1 in the morning then joined Mark Bakken (Lloyd Logging – D-8 cat) clearing LB 1. Tyler Miller in the other Kodiak and Jesse Gurney on the excavator finished widening the Annex up to LB 1. With the warm temperatures, the avalanche crew put up 10 shots about noon into LB 2 and 3 with “good results” (brought down significant snow). Westside - Bob Hopfield and the Kodiak snow blower finished the first cut into and out from MP 156 about a mile below Rainy Pass. Lead tech Gary Claybo says it was 53 degrees with sunny blue skies by Monday afternoon. Snow depth on the pavement keeps climbing – it’s up to about 7 feet which slows the progress a bit. New photos on flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/ The hope is still to reopen sometime the first week of May and so far, the crews haven’t encountered weather or equipment issues that they haven’t been able to overcome. jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov (509) 667-2815 dustin.terpening@wsdot.wa.gov (360) 757-5997
  20. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Today's (Thurs., 04/19/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson. Hi all, It snowed almost constantly and visibility was poor Wednesday. Thursday was better, despite the forecast for more snow and rain all day. SR 20 on the Westside has been cleared from guardrail to guardrail from MP 148, Granite Creek to MP 152, the Easy Pass Trailhead through Swamp Creek at MP 153 to the chain up area at MP 154. Bob Hopfield’s Kodiak Snow Blower was held up a couple times by trees buried in the snow, but he made good progress through the five feet of white stuff on the pavement under less than ideal conditions. On the Eastside, the second Kodiak Snow Blower from Stevens Pass joined the effort Wednesday afternoon under the skillful guidance of Tyler Miller. He, Jesse Gurney on the excavator and Jason Newman on the loader spent their time widening from CR #6 to CR #10. Duane Wolley on the other Kodiak headed off making a single cut into the Annex (or Hairpin/Spire/Spiral Gulch) along with Scott Reagles on the D-6 caterpillar. Mark Bakken on the Lloyd’s Logging D-8 pushed ahead even further to begin cutting down the 35’+ accumulation below Liberty Bell #1. Nothing came down, but Avalanche Chief Mike Stanford put eight rounds from the Howitzer into the avalanche chutes around the Annex and Liberty Bell Mtn. Everybody breathes a little easier when they know that hillside above them is going to stay there! When they begin week 5 on Monday, the two crews will be heading into the ten toughest miles of clearing between MP 154 and MP 164 that includes Rainy and Washington Passes and the Blue Lake and Liberty Bell Avalanche zones. There is a new progress map on the NCH web page: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/updates2012.htm and there are more new photos on FlickR: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/ jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov (509) 667-2815
  21. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Today's (tues., 04/17/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson. Hi all, In answer to the question of the day (for some reason a lot of you chose today to ask) – No, there is no way anyone can provide a firm reopening date yet. There are too many things completely out of our control – weather – snow density – equipment breakdowns – crew availability (they get called away to emergencies, sometimes) – as well as things like avalanches. And right now – the Eastside crew isn’t even into Liberty Bell’s avalanche chutes and the Westside crew isn’t even to Rainy Pass yet. The target is still to try to have it open before 49’er Days in Winthrop, and nothing, so far, makes that a bad target – but that’s what it is – a target, so if you plan a trip or make reservations that proved to be too optimistic, be forewarned. I’d wait a little longer to commit. So far as what has been accomplished – on the east side, Monday and Tuesday were pretty much spent re clearing the Cutthroat Ridge avalanche zone since they dumped enough snow when it got warm last Thursday that the crews had to high tail it out of there to avoid becoming victims. There are about six new pictures from Monday showing the clean up at CR #2 and CR #8. Work continues from there through the last four Cutthroat chutes (9, 10, 11a and 11 b – and no, I don’t know why 11 b didn’t get its own number…) So, by mile posts – we’re at about 165. On the Westside Mt. Vernon’s Gary Claybo says Bob Hopfield who is the designated Kodiak pilot has led the effort from Easy Pass up to Swamp Creek at mile post 153. By the end of the day, the highway was clear from shoulder to shoulder and tomorrow, he’ll start a new cut up to MP 154 through the 5’ of heavy, wet snow on the pavement. It was overcast and kind of gloomy for the past couple days, but at 44 degrees by mid afternoon, the working conditions haven’t been too bad (now that a lot of the loose stuff above the roadway came down by itself over the past five days.) Oh, I should also state once again that WSDOT can only close the highway to licensed motor vehicles, so yes, bicycles are legal at any time, but they’re also a challenge to deal with if you’re the operator in the seat of a road grader, plow truck, excavator, loader or the snow blower. If you can – Friday through Sunday is a safer time to ride since the crews aren’t competing with you for pavement (and be sure to check for avalanche conditions before you go.) FlickR: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/ jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov (509) 667-2815
  22. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Todsy's (Fri., 04/13/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson. Hi all, Spring came to the North Cascades on Thursday and everybody got to take the afternoon off! It wasn’t planned that way, but when the sunshine and warm temperatures worked their mischief, the avalanche chutes above the crews working along Cutthroat Ridge starting spilling snow and Avalanche Chief Mike Stanford ordered everyone out. Fortunately they were taking their equipment with them because it became necessary to cut their way out! They had been using the snow cat, the D-6 and the D-8 caterpillars on CR 6, 7 and 8 and as the day progressed, the cats were sent ahead to start cutting down the 20+’ piles of snow on the road under CR 10. Before they were able to accomplish much, the natural avalanches began and one of the largest slides came in from CR 2 which required cat and snow blower work to reopen so the crew could “escape!” down to their cars at the gate. Depending on what else slides between now and Monday, we’re arbitrarily marking the progress map at MP 166 since CR 6-8 were 90% complete the last time we saw them. On the west side – again – arbitrarily, we’re declaring progress to the Northwest Region/ North Central Region boundary at MP 148. We’ll find out how true that remains by Monday, too. There is a new progress map on the NCH web page: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/updates2012.htm and there are a couple more new photos on FlickR: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/ Jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov 509.667.2815 (Dustin will be away for a little while attending to Sadie Jane who arrived in the Terpening household Wednesday.) (How’s that for a progress report!)
  23. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Today's (Wed.,04/11/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson. Photo's: note the Pieps on Floyd! Hi all, It’s taken two weeks plus a day, but everybody and their equipment is finally in place on both the east and west side as confirmed by the appearance of Pink Floyd (the Avalanche Crew’s safety flamingo!) Check out the ten new photos from Tuesday: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/ Mt. Vernon lead tech Gary Claybo says the loader-mounted snow blower they used for the last two weeks is in Seattle to be repaired and is “done for the season”. A giant Kodiak snow blower from the Skykomish shed rolled off the lowboy Tuesday and began making fast progress through the soft 4’ deep snow at East Creek. By the end of the day, it had cleared both lanes and the shoulders for the three miles to Granite Creek (MP 148). On the eastside Avalanche Control Supervisor Mike Stanford and Twisp Maintenance Supervisor Don Becker filled in the details of work ranging from Cutthroat Creek to Washington Pass. A huge D-8 caterpillar we contract for, arrived from Lloyd Logging Co. in Twisp on Tuesday. The D-8 under the experienced guidance of its operator, Mark Bakken, was immediately sent ahead to begin cutting down the 18’ foot slides beneath CR#6,7,& 8 to snow blower sized heights (about 8’). The Avalanche Team’s snow cat went even further ahead, cutting a level trail over (through?) the Liberty Bell chutes (up to 60’ deep) all the way to Washington Pass. Back at CR #1, the Kodiak began blowing snow under the watchful supervision of Av. Tech Monica Morin and Floyd. While the weather was nice for the crew, Stanford noted the warm brought down several natural slides and he wasn’t disappointed with the cooler forecast for the next couple of days that is bringing the freezing level down. He also noted that all the slide zones had grown just since last Thursday. There is a reason that has come to light regarding why the Westside crew didn’t make as much progress as they might have last Wednesday. It came in the form of a “Thank You” email from Chief Cody Watson Newhalem Diablo Fire Department. He wrote to Mt. Vernon Superintendent Gary Ward: “…the Newhalem Diablo Fire Department greatly appreciates the help of your employees: Gary Claybo, Bob Hopfield, and David Dellinger. There was a serious accident on HWY 20 in the afternoon of April 4th in which your employees came to the aid of a worker (@MP139 where the National Park Service is building a new trailhead). When our ambulance arrived they continued to assist. In such a remote area, it is especially comforting to know you have such extraordinary people working for you. Please extend the Fire Department’s gratitude to your employees!" Nice work guys! jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov (509) 667-2815
  24. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Today's (Tues., 4/10/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson: Hi all, Hope your Easter was the celebration you hoped for! Day 1, Week 3 …with lunch boxes packed with egg salad and ham and cheese sandwiches, the crews ventured up SR 20 Monday eager to resume the assault on their white nemesis… (That opening line was in deference to those who have lamented that this year’s e mails lacked a certain level of literary impact.) Back to reality- It was positively spring like at Cutthroat Creek – 54 degrees and sunny at mid afternoon. CR#1 only had about 8’ of extra snow accumulated below it on the road and had been determined to be stable enough to let the crew clear it without an avalanche spotter on hand. The avalanche crew was down at Stevens Pass doing what they hope will be the last avalanche control needed this year. The warm temperatures over the weekend brought sunshine to “the meadows” which is a section of (Cowboy) mountain that feeds into Old Faithful #4. With the volume of snow still up there, and the potential sunshine has to cause snow layers to slide, Stevens became the priority Monday. So far as motorists were concerned, it was a non-event in that the highway was only closed for about half an hour and only a little bit of snow actually reached the road (shoulder, really). Mike Stanford was quite pleased with the effort since it “moved around” a lot of unstable snow that now will simply sit and melt (provided we don’t get a pile of new snow on top…) Over the past month since the assessment trip, the accumulations on the road have grown. Cutthroat Ridge chutes #6 through 8 measured 16 feet March 7 and 18 feet last Thursday (April 5). Liberty Bell saw the same thing as LB #1 grew from 25 to 35’, LB #2 from 25 to 40’ and LB #3 from 40 to 58’. By the end of Monday, the highway was widened to its full width from the gate to Cutthroat Creek and two new slots had been cut to CR#1. On the Westside, progress was pretty much stopped when the transmission on the loader-mounted snow blower blew. Tuesday brought reinforcements to both sides. The Skykomish Kodiak Snow Blower arrived in time to replace the smaller broken one, and a caterpillar and the avalanche crew’s snow cat joined the effort on the east side. Will have new pictures posted tomorrow. Jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov 509.667.2815 ---------------------------------------------------------------
  25. Hwy. 20 Snow Clearing 2012

    Today's (Fri., 04/06/12) update from WSDOT's Jeff Adamson and Dustin Terpening. Hi all, Twisp Maintenance Supervisor Don Becker called it a good week which ended well on Thursday with cooperative weather conditions. At 2:30 in the afternoon, it was 47 and sunny! That allowed Duane and his Kodiak to clear both lanes for another couple miles past Lone Fir Campground up to Cutthroat Creek (MP 167) where the Cutthroat Ridge Avalanche Zone begins (that’s 12 chutes over about a mile where there are several places with more than 20’ of snow over the road). Mike Stanford and Brandon Levy from the avalanche crew came up Thursday and checked out conditions through the zone. Provided this Easter weekend’s warm temperatures don’t cause everything to start sliding (at Stevens or Cutthroat), the avalanche crew plans to join the maintenance crew and add their snow cat to the effort to kick off Week #3. On the Westside, crews cleared the highway to East Creek (MP 145) including three avalanches from MP 137 (No Name Creek) to MP 138 (Ruby Mountain). On Monday, they’ve got more help coming in the form of a giant Kodiak Snow Blower from Skykomish. There is a new progress map on the NCH web page: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/updates2012.htm and there are a couple more new photos on FlickR: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157629681048559/ The hope is still to reopen the first week of May and so far, the crews haven’t encountered weather or equipment issues that they haven’t been able to overcome. jeff.adamson@wsdot.wa.gov (509) 667-2815 dustin.terpening@wsdot.wa.gov (360) 757-5997 Oh, to answer a question Dustin and I have been asked this week – Nothing has changed. WSDOT is still prohibited from doing any clearing work outside our right of way unless we’re contracted to do it. So far, the Park Service, the Forest Service and DNR haven’t opened their wallets, so we’re not able to do their parking lots at any of the trailheads or campgrounds.