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deltabrian

Rainier Southern routes conditions

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I'm in the area with the sole purpose of climbing, anything, May 14-22. The plan for my partner and I has been the Wilson Headwall and we hope to catch a good weather window to do it. We've kept up on the NWAC reports and the telemetry. Things look OK based on those, but anyone have any first hand (eyes on) beta on conditions there? Any conditions or weather info would be appreciated.

 

Brian

 

Plan B is to enforce Plan A.

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I do not think the PNW has had it's spring warm up. As such, I would be leery of the headwall until that happens or at least a series of good freeze thaw cycles, so to get stable and consolidated snow conditions.

 

As such, having a Plan B would be have another route and climbing itineraries in mind. Especially as the weather in May can be all over the place.

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Just spoke with a friend who reported dangerous avalanche conditions on certain north face aspects this weekend.

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From the NWAC:

...Special Avalanche Conditions...

 

 

...Significant and Increasing Avalanche Danger through Wednesday...

 

An unusually cool and intermittently wet early-mid spring in the NW has continued to produce periodic increases in the avalanche danger at lower and mid elevations (below about 4 to 5000 ft) and a continued almost winter-like snowpack on shaded northeast to northwest facing terrain at higher elevations (mostly above 5000 ft plus). Since last Thursday, a front and several disturbances rotating around a slowly southward moving upper low produced approximately .5 to 1.5 inches of water equivalent in locations near and west of the crest, and lesser amounts along the Cascade east slopes. This resulted in up to 8-12 inches of cumulative new snow above about 5000 feet along with some wind transport near higher ridges.

 

At lower and mid elevations where a mix of rain and snow was received, the upper part of the snowpack is slowly melting, weakening and becoming more isothermal, with increasing natural slide activity of both new and recent snow triggered either by daytime warming, some sun breaks, or unstable cornice failures. In locations near and west of the Cascade crest, some of these slides entrained considerable amounts of wet and weak snow in the upper part of the snowpack producing some large debris piles in lower run out zones. Meanwhile, slightly sunnier and warmer weather along the Cascade east slopes combined with a generally shallower but weaker snow cover to produce generally smaller surface releases along with an increasing potential for some isolated wet slabs to the ground.

 

In most areas at higher elevations, larger amounts of recent snow are subject to the same weakening effects of sun and daytime warming as at lower elevations. However, more recent snow is presently available for weakening and subsequent slide releases, and consideration of unstable wind slabs must also enter into the mix above about 5000 feet…mainly on more northerly through easterly facing terrain. Although such avalanche danger is not uncommon during most NW springs, the recently prolonged cool, wet conditions do not mix well with either intermittent strong daytime heating or substantial radiation effects typical in early May (even during mostly cloudy days) now that we have an increasingly high sun angle and significantly longer daylight hours. Also, some old faceted and now slowly rounding weaknesses from early to mid February above the MLK crust should produce an increasing threat of some large to very large slide releases whenever the overlying snowpack becomes weaker and isothermal. Associated increases in creep or glide of overlying snow should place greater shear stress on buried weak layers which may need little or no disturbance to fracture. Fortunately the recent overall cool conditions have helped to limit most snowpack warming and weakening to the upper few feet of near surface snow where the majority of slide activity has been reported. However, further warming and some rain this week may allow weakening and warming to extend into progressively deeper layers of our still abundant snowpack…beginning at lower and mid elevations and more slowly progressing to higher elevations.

 

With decreasing clouds and light showers expected Monday amid rising freezing levels, further clearing skies and additional warming Tuesday, and continued warm conditions Tuesday night and Wednesday accompanied by increasing clouds and some light rain arriving late, this weather should produce considerable to locally high avalanche danger (greatest on sun exposed terrain during daylight hours) through Wednesday along with an increasing potential for some slides involving larger amounts of wet, weak snow. Such a potential for gradually larger and deeper avalanche releases should begin at lower and mid elevations and slowly extend into higher elevation terrain. Hence in addition to increased surface avalanche activity, such weakening may begin to produce some larger slides reaching the old facet/crust layers. As a result, careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route finding and conservative decision making are strongly recommended to help to limit exposure to this developing danger. And this strong recommendation applies to any and all BC travelers, including skiers, boarders, snowmobilers, hikers, climbers, or snowshoers.

 

This statement will be updated as conditions warrant.

 

Be careful in the next couple weeks especially on the south side routes!

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I leave on Sat. Anyone have had eyes on Lanes, Castle, or Pinnacle? Not to mention any good eyes on Rainier conditions. Forecasts are starting to look better.

 

I can't wait to stop watching the webcams and get there for the real thing!

 

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We were up on Saturday and ended up climbing Castle. The road is completely cleared but not yet open to Reflection. The snow in the lower portion above Reflection was pretty loose, even with snow shoes we wallowed a bit. Conditions were better higher up in the bowl and better packed. The 4 inch layer of fresh snow sloughed and slid a bit on the crust below.

 

 

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