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eddiearni

EL Nino and avalanche danger on Mt. Hood this year

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Hi all

 

I am interested in climbing Mt. Hood for the first time this winter.

 

I have some understanding of avalanche safety, and I'm given to understand that the El Nino Climate Oscillation may bring about unsafe climbing conditions.

 

From what I can tell this will come from a lot of snow dump followed by a warming trend, which can result in an unstable snow mass and increased avalanche danger.

 

Any thoughts on this? Is there somewhere I can go for up to date information about this?

 

Being my first time, I'm taking the safest route possible with an experienced climber, of course, but I'm also interested in learning how to approach the situation safely and doing the snow pack research myself.

 

Thanks!

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Northwest Avalanche Center:

http://www.nwac.us/avalanche-forecast/current/mt-hood/

 

Updated daily.

 

As for El Nino and avalanches.. snow causes them. The weather doesn't particularly matter, el nino or not, as long as snow is falling and wind is blowing, risk is there. The variables on the ground are so much more complex and pertinent than global scale weather systems. Don't even worry about El Nino..

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First time in winter, or first time? If it is the latter, I'd suggest waiting until spring or early summer.

 

And yes, NWAC is the place for up to date info. BUT, avalanche forecasts are typically for much lower elevations than the summit of Hood. You really need to have a basic understanding of what to look for in the field and not blindly follow a report. I'd suggest getting Tremper's book and taking an Avi Level I course.

 

As Water said, El Nino means nothing as far as risk assessment on a particular trip. It is all snowpack structure and weather.

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First time ever. I'm gonna defer to the wisdom of whoever I go with cause I don't have the experience to make the call myself.

 

Thanks for the advice, appreciated!

 

 

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I'm gonna defer to the wisdom of whoever I go with cause I don't have the experience to make the call myself.

 

As an FYI - much of the AIARE L1 content deals with exactly this sentiment. It's important to learn so that everyone has input. Expert halos can lead to worse decisions than the "expert" would have made in a different group of similarly knowledgeable partners...

 

 

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I see two books by Tremper, "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" and "Avalanche Essentials". Is one better than the other? I'll look into a class and see if I can afford it.

 

thanks for the advice!

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I see two books by Tremper, "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" and "Avalanche Essentials". Is one better than the other? I'll look into a class and see if I can afford it.

 

thanks for the advice!

 

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain is the one you want.

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20 pages into that book, I'm convinced, no way in hell I'm going up that mtn without the right Av classes under my belt, thanks again

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the vast majority of the south side route of mt hood is not subject to any avy danger, no? starting around 9k you can get into dangerous zones, but everything below that is totally safe, yah?

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the vast majority of the south side route of mt hood is not subject to any avy danger, no? starting around 9k you can get into dangerous zones, but everything below that is totally safe, yah?

Yes, except for the canyons. White River Canyon and big and little Zig Zag canyons. Also I've seen people skin/hike right up the middle of Salmon River Canyon just above the upper parking lot - a classic terrain trap.

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What does it matter if it is generally safe below 9K, when the summit is over 11k?

 

If you're going to the summit in the winter you are going into avalanche terrain and you'd be well served to have some knowledge of risk assessment. True, sometimes the upper mountain is mostly bulletproof, but you often won't know that until you walk up there and check things out.

 

Edited by JasonG

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