Mt Snoqualmie Triple

1/9/21
WA Snoqualmie Pass
919
15
Posted by jacktaylor on 1/11/21 8:47am

https://vimeo.com/499253977

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Early ups on Saturday led to a beautiful sunrise on the southern slopes of Mount Snoqualmie. We had the lovely opportunity to cut a fresh track up the upper half of the mountain. Started the day with the Crooked, then had wonderful luck with the rap for the Snot being rigged with a 60m. Our 30m would have been less useful. Next time I think we should ski into it as the rap was novel but did not seem entirely necessary if you choose the right entrance. Finally, we ambled back up to the top for a final lap down the slot. Could not have timed our day any better. 

In terms of stability, we had a few wind skins on the convexities above the choke on crooked rip variably at 4-8" depth. Enough to take you off your feet if not skiing conservatively. Slot had a big pile of loose snow at the bottom and I spoke to the individual, whose rope we used on Crooked. When he set foot in the couloir the top 4"ish ripped. Conditions were more exciting than hoped for, but manageable.

An aside as well as a cautionary tale: we had a group of 4, who appeared to have been a guided group, drop in on us while we were doing the final kick turn before the boot out of Thunder. I was really frustrated as it posed a significant risk to our day, to have a group of four folks hacking their way down the exit with nowhere for us to go. I guess this is a call out, please make good choices and be patient if there are people below you. If you are going to be exiting the thunder drainage be smart and ski cut or drop part of cornice BEFORE going onto the upper mountain. Even though we had chosen to drop a few sizable chunks of cornice into the drainage first thing to give us confidence in our decision to exit via Thunder, adding objective hazard to someone's day is not nice. 

Be safe, friends.

*If you are still reading, and want to access the trees on the northern slopes below the slot, there are multiple entrances skiers left of the Thunder exit, please consider using one of these as to preserve a safe passage for uphill travel.

Video and two photos from the day:

Sunrise

IMG_8546

Moody Thunder

IMG_8570

Sweet! I scoped out the entrance to the snot 2 weeks ago, but didn't ski it. I am curious what entrance you are thinking of as a viable ski line rather than a rappel.

20201229_130527

This? Or the slope I am standing above?


@Daniel, the slope you are standing above is the way I've skied in. It is above an icy spine area that you traverse above and requires excellent stability and coverage. The other stuff you see is very narrow.

@Jack, having people drop in on you while you're at the top of that exit slope is terrible form from the group. Still, I do think it's fine to ski down that way so long as nobody is below you. I really don't think people should be messing with the cornices there unless they are damn well sure there isn't ANYBODY below... even if you think you do, it's such a popular area that someone could pop out of nowhere while you're sawing/hacking away.

Did you use the rope on the crooked to rappel past the lower choke, or to deal with the summit ridge cornices?


@Kam, I can see how the advice that I was giving could be interpreted wrong, sorry! Yeah it is definitely a ski run and can 100% be skied safely, granted there is no one below you. I think the runs/ chutes to the left are fun so that's why I suggested them as an alternative.

The group of four above us were standing on top of a cornice and breaking off pieces of it when I yelled up at them to stop. I agree with you, messing around with cornices when there is a chance for people to be below you is a terrible idea. 

We were the first folk on the mountain that day and we had great visibility while at the top of the exit so we chose to drop part of the cornice, fully knowing that there was no one below us. I guess what I am trying to share is that if you are first up there and concerned about the exit moving at all, deal with it before so you have less to worry about later in the day. I am not trying to suggest that someone try to drop that cornice midday on a Saturday :)

We did not use our rope at all fortunately. Was able to chunk off wind packed snow on top of the entrance to crooked and effectively bomb it before we dropped. The lower choke was very skiable.


Awesome pictures and great advice on scoping out the Thunder Exit before going to the upper mountain! That thing gets crazy wind loaded and it's barely a detour to check it out.

I once had a scary experience skiing the Slot at the start of the storm. The Slot itself was OK, cut a thin wind slab on it, but the Thunder exit was getting hammered and I did not feel good at all climbing out of it. Ever since then I check it out every time. 


There are other ways to get back from there as well


It is dangerous to assume with certainty that nobody is below. There are some *very* fast dawn-patrollers who ski routes like the Slot and people on clever routes can appear from anywhere.

My sentiment has changed significantly in the past couple of years, particularly at Snoqualmie Pass. I am no longer certain that nobody is above me or below me, even in the loneliest places. I have been surprised to find tracks appear above me when I'm breaking trail into apparently-empty cirques. With that as an axiom, I choose terrain accordingly. 

As a corollary, please forgo terrain where you might consider potentially-triggering-an-avalanche necessary to make it safe. At this point, I ski-cut only those slopes that I have already decided to ski, as a defensive measure to further expand my margin of safety.  It can be a bummer to bypass terrain that we might have skied in the past, but it beats harming someone below or getting hit by snow arriving unexpectedly from above.

The cornice-drop-triggered slide in Thunder Creek a few weeks ago was a huge red flag for me. I know people who might reasonably have been on the receiving end of that slide. That event has severely contracted the set of conditions in which I am willing to enter that terrain and similar terrain throughout the Snoqualmie region.


Hey Charlie, I hear you. I feel like I came in guns blazing with the idea of ski cutting the exit route before going onto the upper mountain. It was not meant as general advice. Having lost multiple friends to avalanche fatalities I am not one to take decisions regarding snow safety lightly. I have also been in multiple skier-triggered slides and I am scared of skiing. Honestly, I am a climber not a skier, I hate the objective hazard feeling of gravity sports.

I completely agree with you, we should not be skiing slopes if we have to control them to allow safe passage, but here we are. I chose to do it because I was certain there was no one below me and knew that I would be back up and over shortly. I arrived to a scene of just that, people messing around on a cornice above me and then skiing on top of me. I would have been much more apprehensive to have even considered going back out that couloir had I not chosen to assess the exit first thing.

Tbh I should not have posted here or weighed in on snow safety, just wanted to share a video of something I was happy to achieve with a community that I thought would be stoked. Didn't want to get into an armchair snow safety talk. First and last post. Good luck on your forums.


Nice work Jack!!! I appreciated your snow safety insights, I think you made solid choices given the day. Snow safety is hard because everyone has different risk tolerance and perspectives. There is no signal "right" answer I think..


I liked the post, Jack! Good to discuss this stuff


Hey Jacob! Thanks dude, I'm fired up from doing that link but I might be done for the year now 😅 . Gonna stick to sport climbing haha. There is less moving snow to worry about, generally.

I agree there are no right answers and everyone is allowed to have their own opinions.

Does anyone want to buy some skis?


Jack-TAY-lor, you can't leave unless you change your name! (: or get re-born... It's too late!

Enjoyed your post and having bumped into you at least twice up-arounds-there I know you're no stranger to the Slot. Forums like this need opinions and informed views, and judging by the response you're a success! That's a good thing, more info for everybody--but don't confuse peoples opinions for gospel.

 

but if you are serious, I'll take your skis...  I know they're lighter than mine 😀


Hey Stefan,

You are right, I should have expected that others would tell me their opinions on snow safety haha. It is a backcountry skiing forum after all. I think my self confidence has been challenged over the past year and when I got a bunch of opinions raining in from people I have never met, from the internet, I got defensive. 

Either way, I will continue to check this website for conditions reports but don't plan on posting trip reports. I wish I liked skiing more, I'm just a little too terrified to do it regularly.

As for skis, I have a brand new pair of 2020/2021 La Sportiva Capos in a 178 that have your name on em! I got em last year and never mounted. I don't need them and can get them to you for 55% off msrp! I should probs keep my weird nordica skis in my one ski quiver. https://www.sportiva.com/ski---capo.html


looked those up...117 waisted, nah, thanks, trying to get away from that...but someone else may want? get a hold of Jack

As for "I think my self confidence has been challenged over the past year-- yeah, me too--and quite a few other folks... can't be the skiing tho (at least not the downhill part), you rip.
Not that I know everyone here but most of them and they are all good people. Different people think differently. Sometimes our frames of reference overlap and sometimes not... either way I think good things can be derived.  And yeah, the internet... I'm still getting used to it (like forever)...it can be a weird beast


What's the total vert for the triple?


@cpcoldsmoke my buddy was using Gaia and I think it was only 6400’ gain over ~8ish miles. 


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mt-snoqualmie-triple
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2021-01-11 16:47:16