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Chris Hopkins

Washington Pass conditions report

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 for those that don't subscribe to the,WSDOT Information services, here's the latest,plowing update.

"

Hi all,

It's been a rainy and snowy three weeks since the crew on the west side started clearing from the Diablo gate - The roadway is cleared, the jersey barriers removed, the ditches are groomed all the way to Granite Creek - that's 14 miles.  Monday the blower heads east into the 4' of snow on the pavement bound for Rainy Pass about 9 miles and another thousand feet of elevation ahead.

Snow and rain were companions for the eastside crew that started work Monday from Silver Star gate but the 40 degree temperature and no wind made it all bearable.  Initial going was slow as some of the equipment didn't like the 3 to 4" ice floor under the 3' of snow at the gate, but by Tuesday Duane on the D-5 (rental) caterpillar, Jay on the grader and Jason and Tyler on the Kodiak snow blowers won that battle and by Wednesday had cleared 4 miles past Lone Fir campground to Cutthroat Ridge avalanche chute #1.  By Thursday, churning through 5+ feet of snow, they had cleared another mile to CR#7.  That included cutting through the slide and debris that came down over the weekend from CR#4.

Monday, the second rental caterpillar joins the parade - Lloyd Logging's huge D-8.  It will work ahead of the rest of the crew to start cutting down the 50' pile of snow over the road at Liberty Bell Mountain.

Good progress, but the downside is that not many of the 30+ avalanche chutes have let go of their snow and the forecast calls for another week of mixed rain and snow and there's some freezes in the mix which might delay the natural slides we're hoping for.  As usual - we're at the mercy of the weather.

If you're heading up past the gates this weekend - please check the avalanche conditions first.

Until next week, (for more frequent updates follow: The WSDOTFacebook page, Twitter and the 2018 Flickr reopening collection.

 

 

Jeff & Andrea"

 

 

 

 

 

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Here's a link to a observation that I had given to a friend of mine in 2016 and urged him to file a report since I had no internet access at home to that site via a flip phone.

https://web.archive.org/web/20160515085953/https://www.nwac.us/observations/pk/444/

We were trying to increase awareness of the Avalanche Hazard along Highway 20 during the Spring Road clearing when bicycles are allowed past the gate. The local bike shop, which my friend was working for, was sending families up that way out for pleasure cruises and he was concerned.

I had gone up with my partner that day expecting that we would see some Avalanche activity.

As we were going up I noticed that a family was coming down complete with Towing young children on trailers.

We did keep an eye out looking up the slide paths as we passed below, however we were grouped together which is not correct protocol while traveling in avalanche Terrain. May not have mattered anyway since we didn't have shovels with us or Avalanche transceivers.

That monster Avalanche came down Within 30 minutes after we passed under that slide path on the ride up. And of course coming back we had to climb through knee deep penetration slushie Avalanche debris (at least 6' deep at the toe and 150 to 200 feet wide but 15 to 20' deep feet where it hit the highway) while carring  our bicycles, which increased our exposure to another slide from possible Hang Fire or another feeder path.

Am I embarrassed by this incident? Well yeah slightly.

Why would I choose to publicly embarrass myself. Lead by example. These types of incidents are important to report in the interest of Public Safety.

Edited by Chris Hopkins

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Still very active out there. Big slide on Hwy 2 yesterday shut down the highway. I'm ready for it to dry up and corn season to get started!

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On 4/15/2018 at 7:38 AM, Pete_H said:

Still very active out there. Big slide on Hwy 2 yesterday shut down the highway. I'm ready for it to dry up and corn season to get started!

Did a solo tour up the 'powder cache' (3900 vert) today approximately (8 miles east of Washington Pass) 9 to 10 inches of new at 6600 feet and 17 total down to the last hard crust. Wind at the 6900 foot Ridgetop was producing some surface slab.

Top 1500 vert feet was good powder. Then the snow transitioned into wet cotton, then into creamy butter and finally the last 600 vertical feet to the road was slush from rain soaking. Very low cover down low, lots of logs and stubs sticking out.

I did a ski Cut just Above the 40 degree roll to the skiers right side of the top gully. Before that roll the  terrain runs around 20 degrees. The ski cut produced a propagating crack immediately above the roll in that lesser angle terrain. I probed the crack and it was 2 ft deep down to the crust. Needless to say I didn't ski that steeper line below the roll (known as Joy's Line) and went further skiers right for a safer  entry into the tree Glades off the ridge.

Saw one natural release at around 5500 feet (guess) that came off a corniced rocky area and it entrained the snow down to a hard  Crust which was only a foot deep at that point and ran approximately 200 vertical feet. D1.5

Not looking like corn around up here anytime soon.

 

Edited by Chris Hopkins

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Went up to the Silver Star col yesterday.

Lots of recent solar gain wet slide activity noted on east and west faces, mostly originating from Rocky areas.

There was one notable resent slab Avalanche which had a crown just around 3 feet that ripped out  below the ridge rock wall deposition Zone ,north face, Lookers left of  Silver Star above Varden Creek.

Skied some good wind affected powder down the main fall line.

Before hitting the basin we climbed back up to a ridge and headed north to a different area called "The Bride" which is a high point around 7030'.

The first 800 ft was refrozen solar crust with powder seams in shady areas.

We were a little late for hitting this whole area as the rest of the way down was refrozen solar crust. Even very difficult for traversing, except for the snowboarder, in our group of three, who didn't seem to have any trouble with the crust and ripping turns. Sometimes skis just have too many edges.

All in all we had to deal with about 2500 feet of crust. Fortunately when we got into the treed, downed logs, bare patches, stub areas for the last 600' or so, the snow was consolidated and soft enough to make turns.

It took us 2 hours to get down and out of 'the bride', 8 p.m. at the highway, which is close to 4,000 vert feet to the highway 20. 

It was in 'The Bride' where we saw the most of the big recent solar  inspired avalanches  and had to cross  debris piles in a few places. One very large solar inspired Avalanche on a west- north- west facing rocky cliff area that deposited large chunks of debris on the slope below and involving surface layers, had occurred sometime that day before we got there. 

Edited by Chris Hopkins

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This weeks WSDOT report.

"

Hi all,

Bob Hopfield reports a 4 mile gain for week 4 "At the end of day on Thursday, Jim and his Kodiak blower made it to milepost 152 (about a mile shy of Swamp Creek). Snow depth there is 42 inches on the centerline. Temps this week were in the upper 30’s low 40’s. Not much in the way of downed trees, or other issues, but we did find a minor washout that needed repair just east of Granite Creek caused by a plugged culvert pipe.

On the east side, the parade of caterpillars, snow cats, snow blowers, graders and loaders continued. The pavement is visible to milepost 163, a gain of 4 miles to the first of the Liberty Bell chutes. The week began near the end of the Cutthroat Ridge avalanche zone with 34 degree temps, it was snowing with 7 feet on the centerline. Lloyds Logging's rented D-8 was Mark Bokken's this week. The County’s rented D-5 was Duane Wolley's, the giant loader was Bill Hoffman's, the grader was Jim Melton's and Jason Newman and Tyler Miller were assigned to the Kodiak snow blowers. (The avalanche crew handles their snow cat with a blade to knock down high spots for the blowers and their snowmobiles to monitor slope stability above the road.)

The avalanche crew tried some control blasting but the new snow and cold temperatures in the chutes yielded little. Mike Stanford says they are 40% done with LB1. They only cut one lane up to there, leaving one lane with snow on it in case they need to walk a caterpillar back down to Cutthroad Ridge to clear new debris if those chutes start spilling.

In Mike's words, "The good news is, they are almost to the summit" and "The bad news is, they are almost to the summit".
"There's real concern with so much snow still up high and we are seeing big releases with this kind of snowpack all the way from Chinook to Alpental to Stevens".

Don Becker said “We need warm temperatures to move the snow out of those chutes.”

The forecast is for about 3” of new snow tonight to tomorrow morning, then freezing temps until Monday when the forecast calls for dry and some warming through Wednesday.

Please check the avalanche conditions before you head up there this weekend."

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