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2016/17 Ice Conditions


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plenty of groundwater this year, which bodes well if it gets cold.

Leavenworth has not yet seen temps in the 'teens, and valley ice usually doesn't come in well until we see single-digits. if you have time to make the approach, the Stuart range often has good mixed-climbing this time of year... be aware the road closed in November.


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Climbed Alpental Falls yesterday. Pretty deep wallowing even with snowshoes to get to the base. Track may be filled in now with 9 inches of new snow overnight. Practice gully looked to be completely buried.


The flow is shaping up nicely, although the lower angle lower half was pretty thin and wet, with some snow over rock in places. We climbed the far right side and traversed left under rock, which helped avoid the hanging snow above the climb that could threaten the middle and left side of the flow. The upper steep portion was slushy and we rappelled from a station a few feet below the top on the right side.


Based on the amount of ice on road the cuts at Snoqualmie Pass, there should be a lot of stuff coming in soon or already in.


My phone camera is pretty blurry but this shows snow depth, and the big blob of ice at the top of the falls.





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re: Alpental Falls. With this much new snow one has to be really careful if one ventures up the Snow Lakes trail and in the Alpental Falls vicinity, any further left than Alpental Falls proper, as Phantom slide and the terrain above is a real av hazard. In my experience Alpental Falls itself is not threatened. Practice Gully will be out now, it's only good before the first real snows. With the coming cold, the Alpental Falls itself and maybe Chockstone should bulk out and freeze much better.


I have not been up the valley to look at Flow Reversal or any of the other stuff by Source Lake yet this year. With this much snow, av conditions dictate the choices more than anything else.


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In re Alpental ice climbs and avalanche hazard - definitely worth repeating that many lines are subject to persistent avalanche hazard. We were glad to carry avy gear on Saturday. I wasn't keen on hanging out under phantom slide, thankfully alpental falls is climbers right of the main slide path. In certain snow conditions it wouldn't be safe at all.


What is the consensus on avalanche concern for chockstone falls and kiddie cliff? Both have approach slopes that are just big enough to slide, perhaps kiddie cliff approach more so. Looking at satellite its hard to determine the overhead hazard for those climbs. Certainly source lake line, flow reversal, bryant buttress etc all have significant approach and overhead hazard.





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What is the consensus on avalanche concern for chockstone falls and kiddie cliff?

Two former frequent CascadeClimbers contributors were buried while standing beneath Kiddie Cliffs. They both lived, but lost a lot of their gear as I recall.


I think the approach to Chockstone Falls would be similarly threatened, if not the climb itself.

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Did Whitepine creek Yesterday "Washington ice guide book" Page 86, In enough but soft and plenty of bare rock under snow, plenty of bashing out soft ice to bare rock with tools as well, doable but thin in places. We started at the right of the falls wondered up and right to a big tree about mid way. Then went up and left, and farther left before the absolute top of climb and repelled off a tree. Our Green sling is still on the tree we repelled off of.


I imagine conditions will be better in a week or so.


I suggest crossing the railroad bridge and walking in a good ways up the tracks to see the climbing spot/falls then angle in to the ice falls--if you have never been there before. Doing this method you will run into water in a low area. Unless you go around this low area to the road that runs across the face of the area before the falls. If you go straight into the cliff area without spotting the ice falls the falls are very hard to find, lot more work to boot and time wasted.


Did not use snowshoes, snowshoes seem to hurt as much as they help but make your own decision, it may be deeper snow as well into the future. Snow up to crotch in places, mostly below the knees and lesser though.


Great fun!!! Grade is about 3 to 3+ if you pick the easiest way to go Grade 4 and maybe more the harder ways.

Edited by DanO
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Climbed at Kiddie Cliff on Wednesday night. Thankfully didn't get car towed from Lot 4 at Alpental.


There is a really nice track all the way into the falls for skis or snowshoes, and a newly excavated trail to a tree anchor at the top (there are a few different ones). Snow was stable on approach and around falls. Use two 60m ropes to rappel or TR.


No photos but with the full moon it was pretty nice. The upper tier has a good 30 ft steep section with relatively thick ice of varying degrees of plasticity. The bottom tier is mostly buried.

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Thanks for the warning Alex. I think the ease of access and proximity to Seattle lull some visitors to the Alpental Valley into a false sense of security, but make no mistake, it is very threatened by avalanches.


Alex and Dan:

A good reminder - for any newbies, it's called "Avalanche Alley" for a reason. Especially with the early heavy snowfall conditions.


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