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April 18, 2003, Pineapple Pass

WA Snoqualmie Pass
Posted by wolfs on 4/18/03 3:19am
Telemetry promised new snow and 32ish temperatures in the Alpental area, and that was all the impetus I needed for a "quick" pre work tour and a more serious test of some new tele gear.
Turned out to be not so quick, as the new and sometimes heavy snow made for tough trail breaking and I was the first one in that morning. Yeah, I know, excuses. I won't be entering that LifeLink competition any time soon, I  know that ...
Some fantastic turns in the upper Tooth Basin, good enough to make me yoyo it one more time even tho I knew I was going to drag my butt in to work later than I should even without the bonus run.
Snow was up to 7 inches or so of new on a variable crust, with the material below the crust occasionally being kind of a bottomless mush. The mush made itself known by collapsing occasionally while climbing especially on sidehill, and also when I faceplanted once; I was amazed how deep in there I fell  ;) Snow was still OK all the way down the gullies too. Av conditions were pretty stable, almost every cliff was spewing spindrift and slough as the temps warmed, but nothing perpetuated onto the snowpack at all where I was, although south aspects toward Snow Lake did have some slides both old and new. It snowed at start and end of ascent with lots of tantalizing sunbreaks in between, and was even snowing (hard!) on the pass when I left at noon. Freshies in April!
damn i knew i should have gone today!  Lets hope that this snow stays around a bit.  I won't be able to hit it until Monday.

What a difference a day makes.
I went up again this morning (Saturday) for seconds. But the snow had completely changed. The fresh snow seemed to have completely vanished, or somehow glommed into the crust that underlay it. I went Great Scott this time, but I would guess that where I was yesterday was probably the same. North faces were a little less crusty but also were more likely to have slid, probably because the crust helped stabilize.
The crust was at exactly the wrong consistency as far as breakability, breaking on every turn and holding skis tight. My turns on it were most ungainly, and would have been even worse if I had been on tele rather than AT like I was today. But basically it wasn't any fun.
It's possible things would have improved as the day warmed. I started descent at 10 AM, maybe an afternoon descent would allow this stuff to soften and become manageable.
I saw a lot more av debris today, probably a lot of slopes slid yesterday with the warming. Heavy, sluffy slides that might have been dangerous if you were there at the time just because of the weight in the snow, even tho they were not very deep or long. Lots of these on International (my ascent route today).

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2003-04-18 10:19:05