Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited


  • Location
    Duvall, WA

Peter_Baer's Achievements


Gumby (1/14)



  1. I use a postal scale to figure out how much gas is left. I think a full 8oz IsoPro canister is 355g; an empty one is 136g or thereabouts.
  2. Cool, thanks. Here's another view from someone's webpage.
  3. See attachment. As seen from the McClellan Butte trail. Mt Kent is in the middle. Anybody know what the name of the peak/ridge in the background is (just marked Point 4703 on the maps, even though that's not the highest point on the ridge), and whether anyone's climbed the obvious couloir on the NW (left in the picture)?
  4. My guess is because it's softer than steel, so you might end up with stretched biners and bent crampon points...?
  5. Any more beta? We're thinking about going up C-D this weekend. Was the road actually gated 1.5 miles from the TH, or just lots of snow?
  6. That's part of the total energy input/output of an object, but when it comes to the extent to which wind affects refreezing of snow, I think evaporation is the primary factor (and probably a minor one compared to nighttime radiation, which is independent of wind).
  7. Wind chill is due to two things that happen when wind blows across your skin: 1. it disturbs or destroys the thin insulating layer of air, warmed by your body, above your skin. 2. it accelerates the evaporation of moisture, which is an endothermic (cooling) process. These are basic physical phenomena and apply just as much to rock and ice as they do to people. But, the extent to which they affect different objects and surfaces does vary, and "wind chill" refers to the response of human skin specifically. So using a wind chill chart to predict snow conditions may not be very accurate. (Probably everyone has experienced the effect of #1 on sun-exposed rock on a cold day; it will be much warmer than the surrounding air if the winds are calm. #2 is one reason why thawed snow can crust up quickly on windy nights even when the temperature is above freezing - radiational loss of energy on clear nights is the other reason)
  8. All I'm saying is that there are two facts about the accident: 1. the NWAC indicated on 12/28 that skier-triggered avalanches on steep lee slopes below high ridges were probable and that those slopes offered the greatest risk that day. 2. a person in a Mountaineers party died in a skier-triggered avalanche the next day on a steep lee slope below a high ridge. Thus the question I raised initially: why did a group organized by a highly safety-oriented organization end up on a slope that the NWAC claimed would have the highest probability of avalanching on a day when the baseline risk was "considerable"? If safety takes priority over fun - an ethic the Mountaineers are notorious for demonstrating - why didn't the group decide to head to an area that would offer a lower (if not zero) known risk of avalanche? I think these are legitimate questions to ask, at least for anyone considering signing up for a future Mountaineers ski outing. I haven't offered or encouraged any speculation on what happened once they left the parking lot - as you said, we don't even have a full first-person account yet, and we know nothing about the group dynamics, what stability tests they did, etc. Those facts will be instructive when they come to light and may help answer these questions.
  9. No. The "a priori" knowledge this group did have (or should have had) was that the slope in question was basically a death trap, to the extent that no amount of local stability evaluation could have completely exonerated it. "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." I think the mistake this group made was to go to Cement Basin on that day in the first place, and to (perhaps) believe that their snow evaluation skills would allow them to find safe slopes in that area. All other decisions or actions leading up to the accident are probably irrelevant.
  10. Of course snow science is inexact. But the risk that day, on that slope, was clearly high. The NWAC forecast on 12/28 (when this group would have had access to it) said in plain English: "the greatest danger is expected on mainly northeast through southeast facing slopes above about 5000 feet in the north and 5500 feet in the south where triggered slab releases are probable on steep slopes that have received wind deposited snow." What more would you need to convince you to stay out of Cement Basin that weekend?
  11. It almost doesn't matter what local snowpack evaluation the group did or didn't perform. Either they failed to do any, or they did their tests but misinterpreted the results. If you're on a slope that your analysis at home told you is likely to be dangerous, and you dig a pit that tells you the snowpack is "all clear", how much do you trust that result? Personally, I'm conservative and relatively inexperienced. For me, a slope is good to go only if my research prior to the trip gives me confidence in its safety AND I don't find evidence to the contrary during the trip.
  12. All of the current and last 10 days' worth of avalanche-related forecasts and data can be found here.
  13. While it is true that you can find safe skiing at all levels of avalanche danger, it seems to me that this group chose basically the worst place to go that particular day. The snowpack in the Cascades had (and still has) textbook instability - rain crust (bed surface), followed by surface hoar from clear, cold weather just before Christmas (weak layer), followed by increasingly dense layers (slab). The most recent storm, on Friday, had deposited about a foot of snow during very strong westerly winds. Many natural avalanches released during that storm. Given these conditions, a prudent choice would have been lower-altitude, lower-angled terrain on windward or sheltered slopes (or to stay home). But instead they chose to ski on terrain that was very vulnerable - steep (35 degrees), lee (east aspect just below the crest), and high (6600') *. All of this information was readily available on 12/28 by reading the NWAC report, checking the Crystal Mt. sensor data for the past few days, and looking at a map. The fact that the slope in question had apparently been skied several times Saturday and Sunday without incident prior to the accident may have blinded the group to the fundamental terrain and snowpack dangers. This makes me wonder what sort of pressure the Mountaineers group leaders are under to stick to their outing plans - I assume that this was a previously scheduled trip to the Norse Peak/Crystal backcountry area. Cement Basin would have been the last place I'd have picked to go that day. * I'm going off of information posted on turns-all-year.com about the exact location of the accident, which is the most precise I've found - I have no idea how accurate it is (it gave a position of 46 56 37 N and 121 26 45 W, which is consistent with everything else I've heard). Reports about the aspect of the slope seem to vary between NNE to ESE. The location above is on an E aspect.
  14. Some FRS radios now also have NOAA weather radio reception. We used one on Sahale a few weeks ago and it worked out reasonably well (reception is somewhat poor that far into the Cascades, but it was intelligible). Also, I find the NWS forecast discussion pretty useful. It's a fairly technical, qualitative analysis of the current weather picture. If you know a bit about meteorology, it gives you a much better idea what the forecast is based on, and how much confidence the staff meteorologists have in that forecast. That said, I still don't trust any forecast more than 12 hours out [ 07-31-2002, 03:38 PM: Message edited by: Peter Baer ]
  15. The FS plan for the Middle Fork has two parts; a) allowing the upper road to revert to a trail (past Dingford creek permanently, past Taylor river seasonally), and b) developing the lower road (North Bend to Taylor river) as a "family-friendly weekend place," to use Fairweather's term. I.e. cleaning up the garbage dumps and putting in more campgrounds and trails. This is a good thing if it relieves crowding on the I-90 corridor trails and gets people to appreciate and preserve the MF valley. Seems like a fair solution. The upper MF road stabs deeply into the Alpine Lakes wilderness; the idea of the central Cascades becoming just a litte more wild and remote sounds pretty appealing to me.
  • Create New...