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JasonG

Mt. Baker Debris Flow/Avalanche?

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I was up at Anderson Butte on a family hike last week and took a few photos of the southeast side of Baker. Did anyone see/hear this slide when it came down? The path looks pretty impressive- it appears to have descended at least a few thousand feet. Since it looked to have originated in/near the crater, perhaps some minor volcanic activity is to blame?

 

IMG_6691.JPG

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I saw something similar many years ago (maybe 4?) at the same place. If all the debris is not in the accumulation zone of the glacier, it could be the same flow that maybe gets exposed late every summer.

 

can you see fresh tracks in the snow so that it came down recently? Given the activity in that crater, it would not be unrealistic to think that BIG chunks would fall off from the hanging glacier above and flow downwards on a fairly regular interval. How about that for objective hazards on a glacier route?

Edited by genepires

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Thanks for the info, I hadn't heard about that slide from 2006. In the full res. image you can see fresh tracks in the snow, so I think some amount of material came down recently. But, given the volume that was released in 2006, some of the dirt visible in the photo is probably left over from that. Regardless, the fresh debris looks to still have descended several thousand feet down approximately the same slide path as 2006. Objective hazard indeed . . ..

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The 2006 slide was witnessed by a NOLS group who were traversing low on the Boulder glacier & who thought they might be hit by it. The toe of it was moving fairly slow, however, by the time it got down to them. That slide (2006) was small by historical standards. Dave Tucker saw a slide there in the 80s as I recall that traveled perhaps another 3/4 of a mile. It seems that the E side of Sherman Pk lets loose every two to five years. It's essentially a huge wind deposition slope, steep and with crumbly volcanic mud/scree as a base. Remember too that the W side of Baker Lake is basically an enormous debris fan from old lahars off the E side of Baker.

 

When we were in the crater a few weeks ago for gas sampling, there was a gigantic crack in the glacier running from near the top of Sherman Pk down to the E breach, and we pondered the wisdom of proceeding farther down towards the Sulphur Cone fumaroles...! Air photos don't begin to capture the amazing size of this animal.. I have long thought that climbers thinking about the Boulder route on Baker should consider the risk from this potential avalanche.

 

In this 2005 'loaded slope' photograph, it's the sun-shade divide on the E face of Sherman... http://www.pbase.com/nolock/image/43881817

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Here's a gallery of crater pics from August 12:

http://www.pbase.com/nolock/shermancr081210

 

and that crack I mentioned can be seen here - http://www.pbase.com/nolock/image/127437834 - as the irregular line running up towards the top of Sherman Pk. I was with Dave Tucker and also Sarah Polster from USGS/Denver. The device she's carrying in some of the pics is a magnetometer, one of the main reasons they wanted to go in there. Somebody else will have to explain the science of that.

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Thanks for the info John!! So, did you notice if that slide path was there when you guys flew in in August? I took a look back at the full resolution photo, and for sure a pretty big slide did happen this year, perhaps within a few days of when I took the picture (9/3/10) judging by how fresh the debris looks. But, you might have a better idea of when it came down . . .

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