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Animal

[TR] Around Chair Peak - Ski Around 4/28/2007

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Trip: Around Chair Peak - Ski Around

 

Date: 4/28/2007

 

Trip Report:

Today George, Bob and I attempted to ski around Chair Peak in a counter clockwise direction, but the very frequent avalanches finally turned us back after we were just north of Snow Lake. The slides were frequent, and some were big and fast.

 

Speaking of avalanches, I am sure you all know that it is very common for skiers to climb up from Snow Lake over the ridge and ski back down to Source Lake. Well this is what we did today, and since the hot wet snow on the surface was very easy to release I am sure you all know that there were snow slide and some large ones sliding down ahead of us by the nature of our skiing activity. Well it just so happens that some "Mountaineer" leaders placed about 40 of their students in a bad situation today by teaching an ice ax class below the forested cliffs on the ridge just east of Source Lake where it is common for skiers to be above with out a view below. To make a long story short one of my slides turned into a large slide and went right through this large group of "mountaineer" students. I apologize, I had no clue you were down there, but in my opinion your leaders chose a very stupid spot to be teaching you anything on such a hot day. So if any of you see this post, I wold seriously get on their case. I am glad we didn't have to dig anyone out.

 

Below are some pictures of the trip.

 

IMG_0738.JPG

This is us climbing up in the morning.

 

IMG_0749.JPG

More up towards Chair Peak

 

IMG_0752.JPG

Reaching the notch below Chair Peak

 

IMG_0761.JPG

Awesome ski down

 

IMG_0775.JPG

Return across Snow Lake because Avi-danger was too high.

 

 

Gear Notes:

Usual ski gear

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Nice pics.

Bummer about the class getting dumped on but I think you are right. The leaders had them in a bad spot.

 

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I have seen them (teaching) there on a few occasions. Never seemed like a very sensible spot to me but what do I know. Glad everyone was OK.

 

Thanks for the TR

 

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I think I read somewhere that Alpental is the most avalanche prone ski area in the US.

 

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What time of day did the large slide occur?

 

As far as I am aware, there were no injuries resulting in a request for SAR personnel.

 

I don't know who was leading the groups in question or the trip as a whole, and I'm not going to second-guess anyone without hearing the full story, but I am sure that this "close call" will be investigated and taken seriously.

 

Mountaineers avalanche training is a work in progress. Right now, all Intermediate Climbing students, Winter/Advanced Scramble students, and Backcountry Ski students need to take an Avy Level I to graduate. The Mountaineers offer an Avy L1, with instructors from its own ranks. These instructors have been through additional outside training by the Crystal Mountain staff.

 

At some point, we'd like all leaders to have an Avy L1, but there's the problem of grandfathering in folks / giving a grace period so we don't lose leaders.

 

All basic students receive about an hour's worth of lecture and videos and are told to be assertive and ask questions / raise concerns if something seems amiss.

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The spring slide was at about 1:30 PM. I wouldn't call the slide "Large", it was large compared to the other sluffs we caused, but it definately caused the group to scramble to the sides as someone told me who was at Source Lake. I think the group might say it was not that large becaus I did not see a large pile of snow in the area. When we finally saw the group, and I realized that my snow slide probalby went throgh them, they were not digging for anyone, in fact they were practicing the use of the ice ax at the time. No one from the group talked to us, and we did not communicate with them.

 

 

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Nice pics, but let me help you with a couple of corrections to your avy story... I was one of the instructors in the group that day, though I wasn't one of the trip leaders.

 

While it may be common for skiers to do the loop you describe, I'd say it is just as common for travelers of all types (skiers, snowshoers, hikers) to travel the other direction; and regardless of direction, it is possible for these travelers to be on that slope below the slide you started. It just happened that on this particular day and time, it was us.

 

The slope in question is not East of source lake, but in fact North of the lake, and a bit West, also it isn't exactly a cliff, more of a hill with a very short steep section above it that is cliff like, almost all of which is treed.

 

All of the travelers we saw that day, skiers, snowshoers, and hikers, made their way up or down that hill just West of us... even those approaching from above that didn't know we were there. Your group was the only one that skied into the trees that far East and South of the route the rest used.

 

All weekend, the only slide that occurred on that slope, was the slide you caused. Most of your slide was stopped by the fact that the slope was not steep and had many trees. of the 50 or so people there, 12 of us were under the slide, and we quickly moved to the side. Once we determined the slide was caused by skiers, we continued with our days instruciton, with no further issues.

 

I had snowshoed up there a few weeks prior. Between that trip, and this trip, the only ski tracks I saw that far East and near the 'cliff' were yours.

 

Given the fact that you did not know that this slope was North of the lake, perhaps you were a bit off your planned route? I've attached a link to a map for your perusal.

 

http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=47.45585&lon=-121.45048&datum=nad27&u=4&layer=DRG&size=l&s=25

 

Normally the club instructs up in Edelweiss bowl, but since the ski area was still open, had to resort to the Source Lake area. Of all of the slopes in the Source Lake area, that particular was the safest.

 

As Gary pointed out, the club would like to get more of the instructors Avy L1 certified, several of the instructors there that day are L1 certified.

 

Kindest Regards,

 

Octavius

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I was wondering if you guys get a special use permit to bring that many people out there? The regulations say no more than 12 and that would include any animals.

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I don't think Source Lake is in the Wilderness, according to that map. But I don't really know the permit process since I don't organize these trips, I just instruct when asked. You can call the club if your curiosity warrants that much effort. I imagine the same issue is faced by BoeAlps, the WAC, and the many other clubs that take groups larger than 12 outside.

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The slope in question is not East of source lake, but in fact North of the lake, and a bit West, also it isn't exactly a cliff, more of a hill with a very short steep section above it that is cliff like, almost all of which is treed.

 

All of the travelers we saw that day, skiers, snowshoers, and hikers, made their way up or down that hill just West of us... even those approaching from above that didn't know we were there. Your group was the only one that skied into the trees that far East and South of the route the rest used.

 

Your description is correct, I guess by not looking at a map I thought we were east of the Lake. Anyhow, sorry about the little avalanche, but due to the sun it was almost impossible not to cause the snow to slide on that day, this is why we turned back from out loop around the mountain.

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No one from the group talked to us, and we did not communicate with them.

So you kicked a large dangerous avalanche on top of some stupid people and walked away.

 

:tup:

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The snow was knee-deep slush: It was an idiotic place to setup an inexperienced group on a very dangerous day. I was the first person to ski down from the Chair basin that day and I kicked off multiple entrained wet-slide avalanches, even in the glades. Even the debris from previous avalanches was re-sliding. I sat at Source Lake watching the Mountie Folly and sadly mused that they still make the same mistakes that they did ten years ago when I was briefly involved with the organization. Whoever was in charge needs to take a long, hard look at the risks they took with other people's lives that day. It was utter foolishness.

 

mountieavalanche.jpg

 

 

 

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All of the travelers we saw that day, skiers, snowshoers, and hikers, made their way up or down that hill just West of us... even those approaching from above that didn't know we were there. Your group was the only one that skied into the trees that far East and South of the route the rest used.

I had snowshoed up there a few weeks prior. Between that trip, and this trip, the only ski tracks I saw that far East and near the 'cliff' were yours.

 

Animal, shame on you for skiing down something that isn't the "official" route!!! :o

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Hmmm...perhaps this TR would have come in handy had I read it last week! On a solo ski tour on Cinco de Mayo, I took a ride in very much the same place...lost a ski in a moat, and fished it out again with the help from (a very amused) nice fellow. I would attach a photo for you all, but I'm not so sure I want to get picked on. Good news, though! If you want to ski around Chair Peak this week, I cleaned the slope for you.

:)

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Octavius,

Good work getting people out there and learning avalanche safety.

Glad things worked out OK for you and your group!

 

Bug

 

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The snow was knee-deep slush: It was an idiotic place to setup an inexperienced group on a very dangerous day. I was the first person to ski down from the Chair basin that day and I kicked off multiple entrained wet-slide avalanches, even in the glades. Even the debris from previous avalanches was re-sliding. I sat at Source Lake watching the Mountie Folly and sadly mused that they still make the same mistakes that they did ten years ago when I was briefly involved with the organization. Whoever was in charge needs to take a long, hard look at the risks they took with other people's lives that day. It was utter foolishness.

 

mountieavalanche.jpg

 

 

Looking at this picture, it seems like not such a bad spot. With all the trees above, any avalanche would not have been that huge. I suspect there is some rabid mountie bashing going on here. People getting out is a good thing. Granted, I would not take people into slush in that valley but WE all go up there. Even you did. Just a thought.

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