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lukeh last won the day on November 4 2020

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About lukeh

  • Birthday 11/26/2017


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  1. Nice man - congrats! Very cool if my TR was helpful. I both miss the mountain and was traumatized by it - and I was lucky enough to only be there 14 days. I always like to refer to Jon Krakauer's experience when thinking of downplaying the route: "The West Buttress of McKinley, it is often said, has all the technical challenges of a long walk in the snow. That is more or less true, but it's also true that if you should, say, trip on a bootlace at the wrong moment during that walk, you will probably die. From 16,000 feet to 17,000 feet, for instance, the route follows the crest of a knife-edge ridge that presents a two-thousand-foot drop on one side and a three-thousand-foot drop on the other. Furthermore, even the flattest, most benign-looking terrain can be riddled with hidden crevasses, many of which are big enough to swallow a Greyhound bus, no problem. I figured the West Buttress to be a farmer's route; I mean, how challenging could a climb that succumbed to three hundred freds and hackers a year possibly be? Plenty challenging for the likes of me, it transpired. I was continually miserable, and frequently on the brink of disaster. My tent was starting to shred even in the relative calm at 14,300. The unceasing cold caused my lips and fingers to crack and bleed; my feet were always numb. At night, even wearing every article of clothing I had, it was impossible to stave off violent shivering attacks. Condensed breath would build up an inch of frost on the inside of my tent, creating an ongoing indoor blizzard as the gossamer nylon walls rattled in the wind. Anything not stowed inside my sleeping bag-camera, sunscreen, water bottles, stove-would freeze into a useless, brittle brick. My stove did in fact self-destruct from the cold early in the trip; had a kind soul named Brian Sullivan not taken pity on me and lent me his spare, I would-as Dick Danger so eloquently put it-have been in deep shit. Mountains"
  2. Thanks Josh, Jason. Jason the Sony is a little smaller, and generally a little better than the 5D MKIII. But the main difference is the EVF they have on these mirrorless cameras now. They let you get just the right exposure before you even press the button vs. using the inaccurate light meters, blowing highlights, then re-taking. The only reason we didn't take the Tahoma Creek trail was uncertainty. I had spent time on the Puyallup Cleaver a few years ago and knew the St. Andrew's Park approach a little better. I kept picturing some crazy impassable moraine with waterfalls and cliffs that would force us to turn around before we even got started had we gone the Tahoma Creek trail. Now I know that's not the case and it's more direct and easily goes. I guess there could be some challenging washouts on the south side of the Emerald Ridge though? We couldn't see that area. I also didn't mind seeing those cool pillar formations near the S. Puyallup R. campground. I think next year I'll def. try again and go up that way. Maybe a little earlier so there's even more snow on the descent. Trade-off for earlier I suppose is the Westside road will be closed earlier and add 3 miles, plus snow will likely cover it sooner making it not bike-able, but probably too low angle to really ski.
  3. Thanks Kraken. A lot of these are just iphone pics, but my main camera I've been using now for the past year-ish is a Sony A7RII.
  4. Trip: Puyallup Cleaver / Lower Tahoma Glacier - Date: 5/1/2016 Trip Report: Dereck skinning up the Puyallup Cleaver on Mt. Rainier's remote west side last weekend. Not only did we see a total of zero people the entire time after leaving the road, we saw zero signs of people having been out here. I really love this side of the mountain, so remote and beautiful. We saw what appeared to be bear and cougar tracks. No human footprints were seen anywhere. Photo/caption-based conditions report for the Puyallup Cleaver/Tahoma Glacier on Mt. Rainier, May 1st. This would hurt a little going up, but 3.5 miles of coasting downhill would be worth it. If I were to do this again, I would wear my ski boots on the way up. Less weight on my back pushing you into a shitty little seat. And/or I would get a super padded seat just for this. Love the Westside Road's burnt-out, destroyed aesthetic. I blasted through this creek at full speed on the way back, making it all the way across. My lower half got soaked, but it was worth it. About a half-dozen salmon got caught in my spokes. Tokaloo Spire behind us as the sun sets on the Puyallup Cleaver. This is the stuff they don't teach you in contact-putting-on school - how to put fresh contacts in the morning with dirty fingers using your cell phone's selfy camera. The overhanging, visually spectacular walls along the Puyallup Cleaver. Not sure what Dereck was doing here, but he needs to wear brighter clothing/gear. This is the point where dropping down onto the Puyallup would probably have been much smoother climbing with less gain/loss vs. staying on the cleaver. You can no longer drop onto the Tahoma until much higher as it cliffs out along the south side of the Cleaver. Thunder followed by a whiteout for an hour or so on the lower part of the Puyallup Cleaver. A little scale on the Puyallup Cleaver. The frozen surface would scrape off as you skinned over it, sending thousands (millions?) of tiny pieces of ice down the length of the slope, creating a really unique, almost alien sound I wish I would've recorded.. Wet slides were everywhere. Shortly after this section it became high noon, the pinwheels started, and it was time to get off the steeper, wet-slide prone slopes. We had a bit of close call taking the the lower part of the cleaver by crossing the worst wet-slide-prone slope during the worst time. I regretted crossing it after each step sent large pinwheels and roller balls down the mountain. Sunny and steep behind me, with a deadly run out over cliffs onto the Tahoma Glacier. Plus it appeared that if we continued and took the ridge--which was 300 vertical ft above--there would be a huge drop before lower St. Andrews Rock. It seemed likely it would cliff out, and we'd need to camp up there vs. descending a wet, steep slope that could easily slide. I was up for trying, Dereck wasn't as psyched. I was OK calling it due to a variety of factors. We both agreed that we should've come straight up the Tahoma from the moraine instead of the Cleaver if we wanted less uncertainty/more efficiency. Or dropped onto the Puyallup Glacier a bit further back to avoid this section. Or have started the day earlier to avoid the wet side risk factoring into certain terrain choices. Or taken an e-bike up the Success Cleaver, then snorkled over to the Tahoma in the late afternoon, deep wet snow. But I dunno, I'd had a great time just getting out and wouldn't mind getting my Monday back due to workload stress. I was fine transitioning and cruising down at the time. Even the rest of the day. But as I look back now, I think continuing up the route was more important than I let on at the time. We could've started back up the Tahoma Glacier once we dropped onto it and still probably made a 10k camp by late that afternoon, which would've put us in a position to summit and take the awesome-looking line on the south end of the glacier the next morning. Thankfully the Westside of Rainier is probably going nowhere, and will wait indifferently for our return earlier next season. Awesome corn cruising down the Puyallup until a drop-in point to the lower Tahoma Glacier, where hidden crevasses waited for us in the wet, soft snow. You forget about the 3-day pack on your hips when this much fun is involved. Before we left the Westside road Dereck had pulled me aside and said "Listen man, I need you get at least one shot of my oiled up calves on the cleaver. It would mean a lot to me." I thought it was weird/creepy, but here's your pic Dereck. Somehwere on the lower Tahoma looking up. Faster ascent path for this route would've been to head straight up this way (probably left of the ice cliff in front of us). Back onto the Emerald Ridge. We were happy to see that you can just walk right across this scree-d out ridge. From above we assumed it looked too steep/instable and we were going to go below, then up it. Getting desperate to stay on the boards, we finally give up right around here, which actually wasn't too far from the S. Puyallup bridge where we had crossed on the ascent. Interesting rock pillar formations on the approach near the South Puyallup River, which includes some beautiful wooded landscapes. The approach is longer for this climb, but it's not ugly. I remember sitting down near the bridge over the S. Puyallup River waiting for Dereck who had accidentally left his whippet 1/4-mile back at a break. It felt really peaceful to sit and listen to the river and the sounds of the forest. I was calm and happy. Earlier in my climbing experiences I probably would've been exhausted, in low spirits. It was a nice realization that time and experience can allow you to enjoy the mountains more. You know how to pace yourself. You know how important fitness and proper training contributes to more enjoyment of the experience. You have a better understanding what to expect so you aren't surprised when things are harder or take longer than anticipated. I felt a natural high just sitting there in my ski boots, watching the light filter through the forest onto the long trail ahead. I had also just eaten an expired Chocolate Outrage Gu so that could've also been producing a psychedelic effect. A little bit of snow before Round's Pass. This is a fake picture of me pretending to work my way through the snow. In reality the bike wouldn't go 2ft. in this shit snow with a 55lb pack at that low angle. The second best way to cover the last 3-4 miles on a splitboard/climbing mission (cell phone pic from Dereck). Before the washout on the Westside road, which entailed walking 50ft in the river bed (ie almost not worth mentioning). We were just up on the little mountain you see in the background. Or I guess we're on it now too. I guess we're always on our own little metaphoric "mountain" come to think of it, aren't we? (I'll pause here while everyone nods earnestly at their phone or computer screens). The orange represents the route we should've taken. Both the Sickle and the right-side of the Tahoma looked like they had crevasse-free passages. The green line was going to be our decent line. Our actual decent line from the base of the Tahoma Glacier back onto Emerald Ridge, picking up the Wonderland Trail again, which was mostly buried in snow. We had a blast boarding down the Wonderland Trail area, skirting through trees on thin snow - shooting across 1ft-wide sections of snow over creeks in no-fall zones. Dereck was a little bit more committed to this style than me (and a little better at it). Our plan was to take this exit ramp off of the lower St. Andrews Rock. You can also see the paths up zoomed in a bit. GPS tracks of our ascent (left) and descent (right). I started the GPS late, so add some more Westside road in there at the bottom. It's depressing to look at this and see how much further we could've gone. And by depressing I mean "not that big of a deal I have nothing to prove I'm just trying to have fun". And by "not that big of a deal I have nothing to prove I'm just trying to have fun" I mean depressing. Route from the S. Puyallup River bridge. Route was snow covered across the bridge all the way up. We b-lined it up after abandoning a disappearing trail, then had to move left as it cliff'd out before taking the ridge near St. Andrew's Park. A little bush-whacking was involved, not much. Def. wet slide potential near the top, or glide avalanches maybe (there was recent evidence of both). Where we turned around, in a small moat on the south side of the cleaver. We would've needed to take the top of the ridge as traversing wet, steep snow with that run out didn't seem wise. Was probably a 40-45 degree slope (guess). From our vantage point it looked like the ridge might cliff out further up. It looked like a major elevation drop before St. Andrews Rock. We'd be forced to backtrack in even wetter snow, or camp on the top of the ridge until the snow hardened that night. Turns out it does go (received some post-climb beta from an expert). We crossed a bunch of cracks on the lower Tahoma before getting off on the Emerald Ridge. Fun tech boarding from there down the buried Wonderland Trail. Keeping speed and holding breath over a bunch of soft bridges on the lower Tahoma after coming off the Cleaver. The large rock section you see us skirt was covered in snow/ice (cliffy-bergshrundy). We should've taken this dip back onto the Puyallup, which was shaded (north aspect), had less elevation gain/loss, and no deadly cliff'd run outs. Luke lukeh.net Gear Notes: I tried my 2oz Sawyer mini water filter for the first time. Works great, $20. Worth a look if you're still lugging around a heavy pump filter.
  5. If you wrote it on Google Drive you can make that link/doc public, then just post the link here. Just open the doc choose Share, and click "get share-able link". It'll only share that one doc so no need to worry about other content being shared. Jon (cc admin) is aware of the issue and was on vacation in Europe, but was going to look at this when he returned.
  6. Trip: Rainier - 10,500 to the Nisqually Bridge Date: 4/10/2016 Trip Report: Cell-phone selfie cruising down the Nisqually Chutes Quick conditions report for Muir (and a little above), Nisqually Chutes, and the Nisqually Bridge. Christian and I wanted a quick, but fun conditioner in a short amount of time so we headed to Muir this morning (Sunday) to do a quick speed ascent. Started skinning up at 9:08 AM, me in shorts + t-shirt, perfectly comfortable. Snow was a little hard, not too bad. Partway up pan face I took a hard left to head toward the Pebble Creek summer route. I think it cost me time and was more uneven elevation gain/loss-wise. For the ascent, I think it's probably most efficient to stay to the ridge on the right and swing around left a bit later, losing almost nothing in elevation at any point. Just over 2.5 hours later I was at Muir. Snow was already getting pretty soft all the way up, so I imagined down low it was going to be heavy/grabby. Saw a group of 3 boarders who had just come down the ID from the summit, then took Cadavar gap. They said it was still in with a new path around the big crevasse we jumped last weekend, and a few more openings. They gave the ID 2 more weeks. Ran into another friend who had done the Gib Ledges the night before, no real surprises on that route either. Christian had been scoping a line above Muir. A steep chute to climber's left of the guide hut that started at about 10,500ft. He immediately started heading up that way toward Gib Ledges. I followed and we took off down the chute, which felt about 40 degrees-ish. This was a trip highlight, very fun, steep, with great snow. Snow continued to be kind of awesome, great corn that allowed for speed. Viz/depth perception was perfect - blue bird day. We kept up speed all the way to the Niqually Chutes entrance where we ran into our other buddy. The chutes were similar great corn, but starting to get a little tracked and a few, fairly large wet slide debris piles. Ryan was there yesterday and said these were new (from yesterday). Ryan and his buddies were headed to the bridge, so Christian and I decided to head down as well as we'd never done it + it won't be in much longer. The promise of a shuttle to Paradise from he or his GF sealed the deal. Snow started to get heavy/grabby halfway to the bridge from the base of the chutes, otherwise snow had been awesome all the way until this point. Only had to stop/hop a couple times down low, including a pivot move over a boulder near the bridge. Christian only took his skis off 1x for that boulder, so he walked about 5ft, skied the rest. Overall a pretty fun, quick day back on Rainier. [video:youtube]4teZXxTK7RU Splitboard descent video illustrating conditions from ~10,500ft to the base of the chutes. About to drop into the steep chute skier's right of Muir, toward the Gib Ledges entrance, around 10,500ft. Looking up toward Gib Ledegs from the drop-in point. Entrance to the Nisqually Chutes. First time for me dropping in. Large wet slide avy debris in the chutes. Recent slide (yesterday). Wet slide #2 in the chutes. Picking up speed at the base of the chutes, heading toward the Nisqually Bridge (~4200ft) I refused to take off my board, so I pivoted on these boulders and used both my poles to hop on a few incline spots. I paddled like I was in a canoe to keep speed with both poles. The famous bridge, where everyone pulls over and gets a picture next to the waterfall. I'm surprised more people aren't killed by distracted motorists in that spot. Or are they? Haven't looked into it. Christian learning the hard way that showing no bare leg gets you nothing. Amber saving us by shuttling us back to my car at Paradise. Pink line is a guess at our line. Our tracks up/down from 5500ft (Paradise), to 10,500ft, to 4200ft. Ignore the pink line above, this looks better. Luke Site / Instagram
  7. Thanks Jason - yeah I think better snow would've actually tipped it into the "fun" zone.
  8. Site is obviously having issues. You can see the TR at: http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=36211.0
  9. Muir Saturday morning. We watched the sunrise from Rainier’s crater rim on Sat morning, then pushed off on splitboards back down the Ingraham Direct route. It was a little too windy for my taste above 12k ft, but I knew we wouldn’t be up there long. Here are the highlights: I recently returned from a 2-week trip to West/NW Africa and hadn’t exercised while there - at all. A quick 60-pound pack trip up Mailbox on Tue night and a Wed night weight training session my legs left my quads pretty sore. That’s usually a bad sign before a Rainier attempt. Fri morning at 7am we head off to Paradise, quads still sore. Weather/condition forecasts had been changing a bit during the week. A Fri morning check predicted 25mph winds Fri night changing to 35mph winds Sat AM up top, coming from NW then W. Seemed manageable, coming up the eastside would provide some buffer. Clouds were supposed to move in Sat. AM for a bit then dissipate, I hoped they'd be low. Our 4th partner wasn’t into the snowboard/ski descent thing, not even from Muir when towing an overnight pack. I’ve changed over the years into someone who doesn’t like walking in the mountains if I can avoid it, but everyone is different. My pack ended up being just over 30 pounds with my share of group gear. Nice and light for an overnight climb up Rainier. I wore my harness + gear and a camera bag with my camera + other stuff around my waist, so in total I had 35-38lbs. I remember when I used to always have 60. Not bringing a 15-pound camera dolly everywhere helps. I really love this pack though, it’s a super simple Arc’teryx FL 45L. I hadn’t tested it on a climb like this yet, ended up working great. Skinned up to Muir purposely taking our sweet time. It was actually nice and cool above Pan face. Piotr blazed ahead and was there ~1 hour before us. He definitely should’ve towed up that snowboard. Dereck had buried 36 Rainier beers around 9k ft in a previous training run up to Muir. He dug them up and I helped carry 5 up to the shelter to share with wary climbers. Route choice had been left up in the air. Options were Gib Ledges, ID via Cadaver Gap, ID via the Cathedral route. Gib Ledges had recently re-opened after the death of a climber below the ledges earlier in the week. Dereck and I had already done the route in Jan last year. Piotr had done it, but retreated at the top of Gib rock after weather came in, Alin hadn’t done it. None of us had done the Ingraham Direct route. I talked to as many people as possible at Muir for beta. A large group had done the ID and said it went, but veered onto the DC higher up and had a big crevasse crossing. Another party had climbed the ledges and were heading down the ID. I could now see them at the top of Cathedral Gap, and they confirmed the ID condition when they arrived at Muir around 230pm. Based on the recent spring melt out and the relatively summer-ish temps on the mountain, I didn’t want to be on the upper mountain when the sun started warming. Because of this I wanted to leave at 11pm. I compromised with the group for a 11:45 wake-up, 1am climb time. We ended up leaving Muir around 1:45am per my GPS. Dereck and I brought our splitboards, planning to stash them on the Ingraham Flats min. There was no moon, so it was dark. Planning for this I brought this new headlamp from Lupine called the Piko. Holy s the thing was bright. For 180g I don’t think you can get brighter. The lamp lit up the area from the DC to Gib rock on the ID, which helped at a few spots with route trend. We decided to skip Cadaver Gap due to some uncertainty and head up Catherdral instead. Alin was in the lead, with Piotr and Dereck behind me. Soon we were at the base of the ID on the Ingraham flats. We caught up with a party of two next to the top of Cadaver Gap. They told us they had just witnessed a serac collapse and the rumbling sounded like a 747 to them. We looked about 100ft to our right and saw the debris. It wasn’t huge, but it definitely wasn’t small. Some of the chunks probably would've killed you given a direct hit. The party of 2 started to head up the ID and we followed, passing them pretty quickly. I could tell they were very green, and probably shouldn't be on the mountain, especially in early spring. As we made our way over several crevasses and up a steep-ish part of the ID, I heard the leader of the pair screaming at his partner to go faster. There was quite a gaper at around 11,500ft that was harder to jump going uphill, but doable. Our pace felt very slow to me, something felt wrong as usually Alin is a lot faster. By 12k ft. I was taking a step or 2 every 3 seconds. I had to call a triage meeting. I really wanted to get off the ID before warming started, and I knew at this pace it wasn’t going to happen. Options were to turn around at a certain point, or split into 2 teams. I was up for either but I wasn’t up for staying together and reaching the summit regardless of how long it took. After some discussion Dereck and I roped up and head toward the summit. The snow felt edge-able enough to splitboard down most of the mountain, so those stayed on our backs. Above the top of the DC things got steeper and pretty wind-loaded. The climbing was sustained and direct, which meant we gained altitude really quickly. Dereck and I kept a strong clip and eventually linked up with the party of Ukrainian climbers who did the ledges. There was one other party of 2 and a solo climber who did the ledges. Later I learned the ledges were in pretty good shape. A bit icy, but manageable with steps from the party the previous night when the snow was softer. Dereck and I were first to the crater rim. The wind was pretty fierce from 12.5k to the summit. My fingers and toes could’ve definitely been warmer, but I knew we’d hit the top, make a 180, then head back down as the sun came up. We transitioned at the crater rim, then decided to try roped split-boarding as far as we felt comfortable. I took a crevasse fall last winter on the ID that made me think twice about not being roped on a glacier with greater uncertainty in crevasse locations. The wind loading from 13k upward really made it hard to know if there were hidden cracks. On the way up my axe would sail through that wind loaded stuff making it feel like I just found a gaper. Maybe sometimes I had, who knows. Anyway, neither of us were comfortable rolling the dice. Surprisingly riding roped wasn’t too bad. Before this I actually said I’d never ride roped because it sounded uncomfortable. But it seemed like it would give us a good balance of speed and protection. We kept an edge on the steeper wind-loaded/icy-ish stuff all the way to about 13k from the crater rim. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t awful. At the first awkward crevasse crossing we switched back to crampons. We knew there’d now be several crevasse crossings including a large one, so we just kept booting it down for efficiency. I tried to film me jumping the 4ft gaper at 11.5k ft, but something went wrong with my iphone. It was definitely one of the jumps you thought about a little before doing it. The snow was still icy-ish at this point, but right about 11.5k ft. is when we really felt the sun. This is the worst part of the route as it’s pretty broken up and you get really close to Gib rock, which likes to huck massive boulders down onto innocent climbers. At the top of Cadaver gap (11k ft) we put our boards back on, shed some layers and—thanks to early season conditions—we could actually board all the way to Muir (Cathedral Gap is completely snow covered). We waited at the top of the Cathedral gap for a bit though. The wind and the night had iced it up. It was still edge-able, but definitely not a spot you'd want to fall on given how hard it had become. We were hoping to see Alin/Piotr come down, but it didn't look like it was happening any time soon. 30-40 minutes later we headed down the gap, making that familiar edge-scraping ice sound the whole way down before shooting across the Cowlitz to Muir. The 2-person party we passed on the way up was at Muir, having turned around at some point. They had been up at Muir for 3 nights. He was carrying a large knife in a holster on his waist. His partner was this Asian guy who didn’t talk much. They had what looked like a 10.2mm 60m rope still in packaging the night before. I was taking a piss out toward the Cowlitz and he came up beside me to talk to me. I later heard him yelling a swearing outside the shelter at something – his partner again? Anyway, I’m sure they meant well but seemed sketchy. Dereck and I cruised down from Muir after Alin/Piotr returned. They took an hour nap. I couldn’t stick around because I kept dreaming about my dry socks in the car. Snow was firm until it plushed up perfectly around 7.5-8k ft. A thinner whiteout from the low clouds we saw earlier was in effect from 7-9k ft. It cast some really flat light that made depth perception almost non-existent. The snow got heavy at the top of Pan Face, and just kept getting heavier until the parking lot. We climbed up that little hill you skirt at the start of the climb, passing some Mountaineers doing self-arrest practice on the steep opposite side. We then headed down the other side, back to the parking lot. My nose caught in the heavy stuff and I did an aerial cartwheel into the mush. After a nap in the car and a BBQ Pork Sandwhich at the visitor center, we headed home. Heads up, 1 can of Rainier cost $5.75 at the visitor center. Nice and cold (phone pic). Dereck, Alin, and a member of another party about to leave Muir between 1-2am. Taking shelter. Dereck on the crater rim at sunrise. Crater rim, looking east around 630am. Not a bad way to start the morning. Blurry summit selfie of me and Dereck. The 14k ft stare. Ukrainian party member after coming up the ledges. Ukrainian party members on the crater rim. Getting ready to push off the crater rim back down to calmer winds and drier socks. Near the top of the DC (12k ft), trying to get down the Ingraham before it gets warm. Looking at the DC and Little Tahoma from the Ingraham (phone pic). Gibraltar Rock from the Ingraham. The crack on the bottom left is maybe a 4ft. gap? There's probably another place to cross, but jumping it was fun (phone pic). I went left like an idiot here and put another hole next to the one you see bottom-center. Thankfully and didn't fully punch through. Go right (phone pic). The top of Cadaver gap. Higher-objective danger zone starts here up until you clear the seracs on the Ingraham. A serac collapsed just behind us here at around 3am (phone pic). Cadaver Gap, sans massive crevasse you see there in the summer (phone pic). Dereck and I switching back to snowboarding on the Ingraham Flats around 11k. The climbing route goes up to the left, then cuts back right toward the top of the DC. Dereck and I wait a bit at the top of Cathedral gap, which was pretty icy. Low clouds and high winds have moved in around 9k ft. below (phone pic). Staring down at Muir. Scraped my way down the gap then cruised across the Cowlitz (phone pic). Most unbelievable thing about the trip. Paradise Visitor Center (phone pic). Our tracks up. Luke Site / Instagram
  10. Article about this issue in Backcountry magazine: http://backcountrymagazine.com/stories/the-price-ofparadise/
  11. FYI I emailed the park superintendent and deputy superintendent about my incident and general gate closure issues. Was thinking about this, it would be useful to have better communication channels between people who use the park a lot in winter (like people on this site) and the park staff. No formal channel really exists now, at least that I'm aware of. It feels more like a one-way thing, with not a lot of transparency.
  12. Yeah I was kind of wondering, what if I just turned around and said f-it, I'm staying up here tonight? People summit and camp in the winter up there. Would she still have been able to give me a ticket? There was never the conversation of "you only get the ticket once you ask me to open the gate". Even trying to break it down is annoying to think about. Police that don't use common sense and who don't have a general "I'm here in service of you the patron/taxpayer" mentality vs. "I have authority and I'm going to pair it with my ego or personal problems and abuse it" shouldn't be in that job. Especially at a NP where you're hoping to try and get away from dealing with BS like that.
  13. Trip: Camp Muir Conditions Report - Wind Slab Release - Date: 2/24/2016 Trip Report: Photo by Alin Flaidar Gate opened late, 10:05 AM. Frustrating as weather was good the previous day/night and it had been light out for 3 hours by 9am. The winter gate opening at Rainier is always tricky as there's no way to plan for it, and any delays cut into the already short winter days. Plus the transparency around "why" isn't great. People drive 5-6 hours round-trip and may take vacation days, so it's a gamble. The plan was to go to the base of the ID, but with the late gate opening that plan wasn't looking good. The original plan of a summit was squashed late due to climbing partner personal conflict. Unfortunate as conditions were prime on the upper mountain we later learned. It was Daniil's first time going up to Muir, so I carried the group gear and his snowboard for training weight. Four hours later we were at Camp Muir - pretty good time from Daniil for his first visit to 10k feet. Winds were a bit higher than forecast, maybe 20-25mph vs. 15mph at Muir. All routes up from Muir looked like they were in great shape. I talked to ranger Peter Ellis who had dug a pit earlier and found a 2ft, super hard slab that they could not get to slide. So snow was stable up here. We took the winter ridge route on the way up. It was super icy in places, but not as bad as a week ago as wind blown snow covered a lot of the rock hard stuff. On the way down we took the Pebble Creek summer route and avoided most of the ice (thanks Peter for the heads up). Snow was carve-able wind blown stuff the whole way down. We observed a large-ish wind slab avalanche skier's right at the top of Pan Face (7k ft). I estimated a 1-2ft crown, this was confirmed after reading NWAC's report from Peter's shot (he skied a few min ahead of us near this spot). They estimated that it released earlier that day, or even just shortly before we arrived around 5pm. Natural release from solar exposure, the slab was built up the day before from E winds (this was a W aspect). Descending Pan Face was the descent highlight as usual due to steepness and even snow. The snow down lower hadn't received a ton of sun exposure due to cloud cover, so it actually was pretty great all the way to the parking lot. Alin had some ski equipment troubles. That coupled with a fall on the ice producing a gash above his eye caused a late arrival to the parking lot. Park police were waiting for us at the Longmire gate. I was expecting min some basic cordial empathy, especially given Alin's injury. What I got instead was immediate cold interrogation, asking to see my license, registration, proof of insurance. I was thinking WTF? Then they went as far as asking us if we had chains in the car, as if that mattered at this point? We did but the question was so stupid given the context I wondered if the woman knew how to apply common sense to ambiguous situations. The officer ended up writing me a $100 ticket (plus $25 processing fee) for being late to the gate. I thought that was a real dick move. She also spent 20+ minutes writing the ticket and I assume verifying I didn't steal my car? I felt like I was a suspect in a major crime for driving up to the gate after some unforseen circumstances caused us to be late. It was ridiculous. I didn't even know you could get a ticket for that. I thought we might have to stay the night up there or try and get the key from the Inn. Anyway, a pretty shitty way to end an otherwise fun day. [video:youtube] Some clips from my cell phone which I rigged up to my whippet (too cheap to get a Go Pro) during the sunset descent. Avalanche debri can be seen from 1:21 - 1:47. Daniil just about to reach 10k ft for the first time in his life. Nice work! Descent via Pebble Creek (avoids icy ridge). Avy debris from a naturally (solar) triggered, wind slab around 7k ft, W aspect, 1-2ft crown. Triggered a little earlier that day. Luke
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