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mhux

Volcano ski condition 'forecasting'

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Wise volcano climbers and skiers of this website and the PNW: 

Wondering if anyone can share their wisdom of forecasting good volcano ski conditions (winter/ pre-corn). I pretty much assume anything above treeline is wind blasted, golfball sized rime chunks, boilerplate ice, or sastrugi (usually a combo) during the winter. This sour grapes attitude has left me really surprised when friends report skiing (Mt. Hood in most cases) powder from the summit, or even on the Palmer during the winter (okay, maybe more like March-April, and given that it doesn't seem to happen that often!). I am not really talking about corn cycle, although any wisdom is appreciated. Mostly how to determine whether the skiing will be ice chunder or decent above timberline. 

It seems that most big storms are windy and rowdy, and just scour anything above timberline, with the exception of localized lee pockets of softer snow. Does it just take less windy storms? Better aspect/terrain choices? It also seems that given a few clear midwinter days, anything sunny gets icy or a nasty sun crust- yet I am surprised by the winter corn harvests I read about from such periods. Obviously my cynical mindset is holding me back from the goods, so can anyone walk me through their conditions forecasting process?  Is it a matter of just hoping for the best or are you all semi pro meteorologists?

Thanks and happy (ice) skiing!

Max

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No help for a specific answer to your question, but I think it can come down to quantity being greater than quality. I’ve lost count of the days I’ve expected terrible conditions and found great snow. Keep expectations low, go out there, poke around, see for yourself. With any luck you’ll find yourself ripping skins next to a caldera, with a wide open field of untouched fluff below you.

 

lovely soft stuff days after the last real snowfall on the east side.02788039-446B-4496-9002-A3A1E679E8B5.thumb.jpeg.ba600056345bf0a4777be045b16a50c1.jpeg

Edited by keenwesh
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10 hours ago, keenwesh said:

but I think it can come down to quantity being greater than quality.

Yep.  I think this is true.  A lot depends on how the storm exits, and that is pretty nuanced.  Like you said, they always come in windy on the big hills but it is a roll of the dice what the final few hours of snowfall look and bond like.

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I would advise checking different aspects and trying different volcanoes from Hood. Hood gets very wet/rimey storms and the South side gets side-blasted. Often the Sisters, Jefferson, or Adams will have much drier snow (as in it actually deposits snow and not ice blobs).

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Interesting thoughts, thanks all. I didn't consider how a storm exits. Also I am sure that getting away from Hood would help! 

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21 hours ago, JasonG said:

Yep.  I think this is true.  A lot depends on how the storm exits, and that is pretty nuanced.  Like you said, they always come in windy on the big hills but it is a roll of the dice what the final few hours of snowfall look and bond like.

Nine out of ten times I go skiing it feels like survival skiing, except of course if I am climbing, then conditions are dreamy for skiing and crap for climbing.

 

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