Smarter, Safer Spring Skiing: Part 4

It’s late April, low elevation snow is melting fast, and ski areas are closed, or closing soon. For many, this means that it’s Tuckerman Ravine ski season! While weather has been mixed, recently we’ve seen excellent conditions on certain days. Informed decision making remains crucial for enjoyment and relatively safety while scoring big rewards on one of these sweet days. Welcome back to The Pit and our spring decision making series!

This week, the Expert Halo heuristic trap is the focus of our series on what is known as the “human factors” To review, F.A.C.E.T.S. is the acronym which represent the heuristic traps which most commonly contribute to events that lead to an accident. Heuristic traps are the common mental shortcuts which diminish our risk perception and adversely affect associated decision making. The Expert Halo trap is simple. Most of us humans really like to place responsibility somewhere else, so what could be better than having an expert make decisions for you? Therefore, we tend to blindly trust these folks.

The Expert Halo is NOT the reluctance to voice a concern – that’s a symptom of our desire for Acceptance, a separate heuristic trap we’ll discuss in coming weeks. The Expert Halo is the reluctance to think for yourself. Allowing someone else to make decisions for you is obviously a mental shortcut, especially if your expert is providing that “Go” answer, which a backcountry skier inherently wants.

What or who is this expert? They’re usually the group leader, but not necessarily. It could be someone helping you plan a trip, a social media personality, or even an MWAC Snow Ranger. An “expert” in this case can be anyone you rely on to make decisions for you. Unfortunately, true experts are pretty hard to come by, if you can find one at all, since not one of us has a crystal ball which can make clear the outcome of your choices. We all know that no one is perfect, so ignoring your inner voice and trusting your life to the decisions of another person often seems silly in the 20/20 hindsight which follows an incident.

As skiers and riders, we’re used to decisions being handed to us, particularly here in the Northeast. Ski areas make many decisions for us. Runs are closed due to icy conditions, thin cover, rocks, cliffs, and other naturally occurring conditions. This would otherwise provide an opportunity for decision making. Particularly out west, runs are opened and closed in response to avalanche hazard and associated mitigation efforts. It’s normal for us to have some of the most consequential terrain and conditions closed to our travel.

With a few exceptions, you’re free to take limitless risk on Mount Washington. Yes, the Lion Head Summer Trail and the Tuckerman Ravine Trail high in the ravine have seasonal closure signs posted in response to present hazards, but we largely DO NOT make risk-related decisions for you. You’re free to ski and climb any snow, ice, or rock. Remember, “Low” avalanche danger does not mean “No” avalanche danger! Our Avalanche Advisories and the other conditions information we make available are valuable resources to inform the decisions YOU make.

One way the Snow Ranger team sees the Expert Halo manifested is in the questions visitors ask us. A question like, “I should be OK skiing Left Gully today, right?” is not uncommon. We can’t make this decision for you of course. If you’re asking such questions, it’s OK! You’re making an effort to better inform yourself. While we can’t and won’t make decisions for you, we’re happy to help you understand current hazards and their consequences.

Actively seeking to inform yourself is crucial to countering the Expert Halo heuristic trap. As always, acknowledge that you probably can’t turn this flaw off, but increasing your awareness of significant risks should turn your critical decision making brain on. If you have any sense of self-preservation, that is.

To further counter this heuristic trap, identify who YOUR expert or experts are. Who do you trust completely? There’s almost certainly someone in this category. If your expert is a trusted backcountry partner, they should appreciate your efforts to think for yourself. If they don’t, get a new partner. Accordingly, don’t be the expert, no matter how good it makes you feel to be held in this esteem! If you think you might be your group’s expert or de facto leader, actively voice skepticism of your own ideas. Even better, draw out the rest of your group to voice their perception of present risk.

The bottom line: Everyone’s opinion is valuable, and that includes you!

The Risky Business of Avalanche Problems

Social media has been alive and bristling with opinions on last weekend’s avalanche cycle. Rather than join that fray, on social media anyway, I thought I would share a few thoughts here from the perspective of an avalanche forecaster, former guide, and rescuer. Friday night, March 31, we received 12 inches of snow on light easterly winds above treeline. This snow created an unusual avalanche problem for us around here that differed greatly from the more typical wind slab problem we deal with so much of the time.  The storm slab avalanche problem present on April 1 set the stage for a number of close calls and for a number of different reasons.

I use the term avalanche “problem” in its technical sense as defined by snow scientists and forecasters around the country, and at this point around the avalanche forecasting world. In a pivotal 2004 paper  Roger Atkins, a veteran forecaster for a Canadian heliski operation, identified and defined a dozen  or so different avalanche problems as a way to clarify and provide guidance to those managing risk in avalanche terrain. Around the same time, American forecasters were revising the avalanche danger scale while also tackling the important work of addressing the nature of avalanche types in terms of size, distribution, and likelihood of triggering. Travel advice which each danger rating should include was also updated.

This process of defining properties of avalanches points to some critical concepts. The character of each avalanche type, as well as its size and distribution, directly affects your choice of terrain and how you manage it. If it doesn’t affect your terrain choice and management, it should, because certain avalanche problems can be assessed and mitigated while others may be more a roll of the dice. For example, a moderate rating on a slope with a dry loose problem presents a very different hazard than a deep but low rated persistent slab problem. I may ski the edges of a slope when a loose dry problem is present, with a plan to occasionally pull out and let my sluff pass me. Alternately, a big slope with a persistent slab problem may have me thinking about staying in the center of the slope, on the thickest part of the slab, in order to increase my odds of avoiding a thin spot which is the most probable trigger point. Both avalanche types can kill me, and each has a dynamic management strategy.

The avalanche problems last weekend required a much different risk management strategy than our more typical stubborn wind slab. A storm slab, which consists of barely cohesive slab with poor bonding to the layer below, can create ideal skiing opportunities in the right terrain. The critical detail in the last sentence is “in the right terrain”. One thing most folks with some advanced avalanche education, training, or experience could tell you is that 12” of new snow of an upside down nature on a 35+ degree slope presents an avalanche mitigation problem. Depending on your level of experience and risk tolerance, you could take a ski patroller or guide’s approach and ski cut a slope to release the avalanche. In a storm slab or loose avalanche problem this is reasonable, with a few caveats:

  • You are an expert and have done this before.
  • You have a bailout plan and an island of safety at the end of your ski cut.
  • You are confident that you can self-arrest on the bed surface if you fall down.
  • You are confident that the nature of the avalanche problem is such that the slope will crack at your feet or below, AND NOT ABOVE YOU.
  • If you are 100% confident in your assessment, step back and reflect on the nature of the universe and your role in it. If you have some uncertainty, that’s good. The resulting humility may keep you alive longer.
  • You are using safe travel practices including no one below you on the slope, skiing one at a time, and pitching the slope out in such a way that partners have eyes on the skier as well as the runout.

Two folks skinning up Hillman’s. They moved straight up into the hangfire of the looker’s left fork just before dropping into and triggering Duchess. Note that the right fork had slid earlier that morning which created the crown/stauchwall that you can see in the picture above the skiers.

Last weekend, it was fairly clear in most cases that folks were not applying many of the above concepts. The person that triggered Right Gully was alone though oddly criticized for going back up the slope to search for his pole lost while he was carried downslope. At that point, the slope was drained making the bed surface there one of the safest places to be. The party that triggered the Duchess placed no ski cut at all and made two turns center of slope in the drop in before the slope released. That was after center-punching up Hillman’s directly into fresh hangfire. The party that triggered Lobster Claw was together on the slope near the top and may or may not have understood how ugly and potentially unsurvivable the terrain trap is at the bottom. These are all big travel or terrain choice risks that can be mitigated or avoided. An experienced party triggered upper right Hillman’s from the top and with a somewhat formulated plan reduce the consequences of triggering but were admittedly surprised at the results of their ski cut. Yet another party in Gulf of Slides ski cut and triggered two avalanches, which they expected. It is likely that these groups were driven partly by the classic Scarcity heuristic. It is really hard to say no to 12” of powder. Really hard.

Our terrain is in itself a red flag due to its steepness. Thirty-five plus degree slopes present a lot of challenges to mitigating avalanche dangers and reducing exposure to risk when travelling as a small group. Rollovers obscure the view of the slope and skier below, few islands of safety exist in or near start zones, and choke points in gullies force a climber into the avalanche path. These are not insurmountable problems though they do require careful planning and discussion when figuring out a plan of attack. Group size and ability, weather, and avalanche size and character should dictate this plan of attack.

An avalanche forecast provides information about the size and character of an avalanche by identifying the avalanche problem whenever possible and when our confidence level in our assessment is high. It is critical to consider the avalanche character or problem as one of the most important factors when choosing where and when to travel. Equally important is to consider the cautionary remarks of veteran avalanche professional Don Sharaf, who recently studied the things that kill avalanche pros. “Don’t cheat the avalanche problem,” was one of the points he made to the audience at the 2016 ISSW. In other words, plans based on assumptions of the avalanche character can go completely sideways if your assumption is wrong. You can only get lucky a finite number of times before a mistake leads to disaster.

It’s probably useful to understand that my perspective on last week’s cycle is shaped by a relatively high personal risk tolerance which I likely share with everyone out skiing that day. I rock climb, sometimes soloing low fifth class terrain, and go skiing when red flags and signs of instability are apparent. Like some that day, I use terrain to my advantage on elevated danger days. But I always, and I mean always, wear a beacon, and often an airbag pack, carry rescue gear, and never travel alone in avalanche terrain when unstable snow is an issue. The Friday evening prior to this snowfall, while looking at low wind speeds and copious snowfall, I was actively engaged in a battle with my skiing desire. My emotions and desire tried to convince me that a 40 degree slope would be a reasonable target in the morning. In the end, reason won out over my emotions and I realized that low angle slopes would be the more appropriate and safer option. Indeed, I got a nice lap in that afternoon on the low angled slope next to the runout of Lobster Claw. Not a GoPro worthy hero run, but pretty darned fun.

For obvious reasons, I have a much lower risk tolerance when at work or when making decisions for others in elevated risk environments. I also understand and frequently remind myself that being wrong about the nature of the avalanche problem only needs to happen once, and being wrong once can kill me or a friend. I had the misfortunate of being caught and carried when what I thought would be a manageable sluff turned into a wet slab that broke upslope behind me. In that case, I only received minor injuries and a broken ski several miles into the backcountry but the subsequent reflection on the experience made for a great learning opportunity.  I’ve been involved in enough other avalanche incidents to understand that skiing and climbing are very dangerous games. Part of my strategy to remain alive and kicking is to be honest with myself when reflecting on risks. Whether I was right or whether I was just lucky is the question I ask myself at the end of every day I’m out in the field, now more than ever.

-FC

Smarter, Safer Spring Skiing: Part 2

Scarcity. Snow is our resource, and it’s limited.

As introduced last week, our mountain decision making is clouded by heuristic traps. To explain a bit further, “heuristics” are mental shortcuts we all use to process complex situations. They aren’t bad, they’re actually necessary. Mental shortcuts are often necessary in our not-so-simple lives. However, when we’re skiing or climbing and inherently looking for the “go” decisions which we prefer, heuristic traps lead us to mental flaws. Shortcuts help us feel good about doing what we really want to do. Shredding the gnar or sending that route is way more fun than staying mellow, and mellow skiing is better than sitting on the couch. Wait… is it?

While a few folks truly enjoy fearing for their lives, most of us probably prefer to believe that we’ll make it through the day. That’s where these heuristic traps, or F.A.C.E.T.S., come in. As mentioned in Part 1, they help people “feel good” about high-risk situations. We’d rather not notice a level of risk with high potential to take our lives, so we process information accordingly, effectively missing clues that we’re in over our heads. The fun you and I have skiing a consequential line or climbing a sketchy route is often because we perceive lower risk than actually exists. For the same reason, the comfort we feel when skiing a “safe” slope might not be based on reality.

If you stay home on the couch pounding ice cream (a worthwhile pursuit, without question), heart disease will probably get you sooner than you would like. Don’t stop playing in the mountains, but work to continually improve your perception of risk. Remember that Familiarity, Acceptance, Commitment to a goal, Expert halo, Tracks/scarcity, and Social proof are key heuristic traps leading to flawed decision making in the mountains. We can’t turn them off, but we can actively counter them.

The influence of Tracks, or Scarcity, is ever present for us skiers. This heuristic trap is characterized by the human tendency to value opportunities in proportion to how easily they might be lost. Of course, a powder day epitomizes this phenomenon. The opportunity for fresh tracks is scarce. C’mon, we intentionally make plenty of sacrifices to ski pow, don’t you think we might be making a few subconsciously as well? Missing clues that we’re in or approaching an unsafe situation are part of what defines good ‘ol powder fever. Obviously, we’ll go to great lengths to get first tracks. With at least some snow and wind in the forecast, this weekend could provide such an opportunity.

In the springtime, particularly in Tuckerman Ravine, most folks don’t mind tracks on a slope. However, a scarce opportunity is still present: Summer will soon end our beloved ski season. It’s now or never! That ski line might melt out by next weekend. Yep, ski season probably will give way to summer in the coming months, and that scarcity could hamper your ability to perceive risk.

How can we counter this heuristic trap? Repeatedly acknowledge it. Vocalize it to your group. Use it to question your plans. Powder fever is tough to reduce, but it’s easy to identify. You’re not immune to it, so embrace it. This all applies for countering scarcity-based decision making flaws occurring as a ski season wanes as well. Carefully consider your plans and motivations, and allow time to effectively do so. There’s almost certainly an element of risk that you’re missing. What is it?

This weekend, our mixed bag of expected conditions may or may not engender feelings of scarcity. Whatever kind of tracks you’re hoping to make, don’t forget that your excitement to recreate on our season-dependent resource might lead your decision making astray. Powder, corn, or breakable crust, they will all come again. Check our website to inform your decisions, and enjoy another weekend on Mount Washington!

Photos from Sunday, March 26, 2017

Just a taste of Huntington and Tuckerman Ravine this morning. Bluebird skies but no traffic made for a very peacful sunrise.

Huntington Ravine

Damnation Gully

Yale Gully as well as Damnation have pockets of unstable snow near the top that likely reach wall-to-wall. Talking to climbers who traveled in both of these yesterda, they reported knee deep soft snow. These pockets will be heads up today when they start to get cooked by the sun and warm temperatures.

Central Gully was the only gully in Huntington that did not see climbers yesterday. Looking at the pillow of wind loaded snow that exists from top to bottom, I can see why folks went elsewhere.

Odell Gully has lots of ice a the moment. It’s hard to believe it’s almost clising time for the Harvard Cabin.

South Gully has a mix of sastrugi, old surface and few pockets of new snow. A skier reported triggering an isolated pocket of new snow yesterday.

The Overview of Tuckerman

One of my favorite views on this mountain. Hillman’s and the Boott Spur Ridge.

Dodge’s Drop looking very steep at the top

The Duchess

 

Thanks for the Support!

Last week, Friends of Tuckerman Ravine held a fundaraiser at Allspeed Cyclery and Snow in Portland. We enjoyed a great turnout and were treated to a discussion with Ben Leoni about his latest Working for the Weekend film, East Coast Avalanche. If you haven’t had the time to check out this film, it’s well worth 7 minutes. The crew does an excellent job of making sure everyone on the scene is safe and then taking the time in the film to talk about what happened. Ben fielded lots of questions at Allspeed and discussed what they learned and the big takeaways from the event. Kudos to Ben and the Ski the East team for a quality production.

A big thanks to everyone that helped make that night possible:

We look forward to events like these in the future. Again, many thanks to all who made this event possible, but a big thank you also to those who came out for the night to talk about snow.

March 11, Elevated avalanche danger and continued wind loading

5″ of snow in the past 24 hours combined with strong west winds make large, human-triggered avalanches possible in Tuckerman Ravine. As a result, expect Considerable avalanche danger in the Lip, Center Bowl and Chute. Wide spread but smaller wind-slabs in Huntington so expect Moderate danger there, possibly pushing towards Considerable in a few strong lee locations. Full advisory will be issued soon.

Harbingers of Spring

At the start of last week, the snow depth at Hermit Lake was 209cm. This morning, the height of snow (HS) is down to 163. This is a significant drop. In my mind, two things above Hermit Lake are signs that spring is on its way. The first is when the Little Headwall reopens and prevents skiing out of the Bowl. The second is when the waterfall hole next to the Lip opens. See the pictures for signs that spring is closer than I would like to think in late February.

Looking at the Bowl from Hermit Lake on the afternoon of February 26.

The Little Headwall. The visible water is the only exposed water on the steep section. Getting to this from above also involves navigating open water holes. It is possible to ski the trees to lookers left of the Little Headwall as well as the drainage to lookers right of the open water. Keep in mind getting to both of these options may involve some “mixed” skiing.

The waterfall hole in the Lip has opened. This will gradually grow in size and creates an additional hazard for steep skiing in the Bowl.

Yet another avalanche cycle…

A look into Tuckerman Ravine following the 8″ snow which fell on calm winds on Feb 15/16.  Slowly increasing NW winds into the 50-60 mph range Thursday afternoon ramped up higher through the night. Here’s a look at the avalanches that resulted and the terrain as of Friday at around 1pm. 68″ of snow has fallen in February with 94″ on the ground at the snow plot near Hermit Lake.

 

Note the crown line low on the slope below Chute. Ice crust was evident in several areas in or near debris.

 

Lobster Claw and other south facing lines are top to bottom.

 

Right Gully has really filled in and Sluice appears to have released a pretty good sized avalanche into Lunch Rocks if not in yesterdays storm then during the last storm.

 

It appears that most of Chute through Center Bowl and Lip avalanched once around the same time and then reloaded. Another crown was visible near the Tuckerman Trail traverse through the Lip as well.

 

Lunch Rocks is still visible but just barely. The upper crown line in the Lip is heavily eroded which indicates it failed early on. It’s just visible in the upper right.

 

Left Gully and a small slide below Chute Variation and the Elevator Shaft.

 

After the Storm

There is no doubt we’ll be talking about this storm for years. It seems like everyone experienced some of the greatest skiing on the east coast in a long time. That’s what 11.6″ of 7.6% density snow followed by 12″ of 8.5% snow will give you. The real question for us was what happened in the Ravines.

You may have noticed, we put the Extreme slats up yesteday. Frank, Ryan and I talked long and hard Sunday and Monday about what this means. Here’s a bit of our thought process. First, the likelihood of avalanches. That was an easy one. Yesterday morning, with the facts we had, we were certain that avalanches would take place. Second, travel advice. High danger says Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. Extreme says Avoid all avalanche terrain. Again, the choice seemed easy to go to Extreme. Third, the size and distribution. This is always the though choice for us. Extreme says Large to very large avalanches in many areas. We always debate how big our slides are. Certainly not as big as they can get out west our abroad, so we have to keep it relative to our scale. A very large avalacnhe in my mind is the Bowl-alanche, when something in the Tuckerman Headwall triggers from Sluice over to the Chute. We get these occasionally, and in my mind, this is very large. So can we have this size elsewhere? Talking it out Monday morning, the storm had been delivering heavy snow on ESE winds and was just shifting counter-clockwise to the NW on mild winds for our standards. This had the potential to heavily load the north wall in Huntington as well as the Fan, creating conditions that could allow the north wall to go as one big slide. Again, this is very large in my mind. As to areas that receieved the High rating yesterday, our thought was that the size avalanche in those would not reach the very large size, partly due to the size of the gully, but also partly due to a lesser degree of wind loading taking place in these areas.

To further make Monday’s forecast trickier was the fact that this storm was not coming in on strong winds. When winds rip and we get this amount of snow (24″), the wind slab can grow very thick before finally releasing. Think very large. On the winds this storm was arriving on, we were thinking we might see a several cycles of softer slab rather than fewer cycles of firmer slab. Several medium to large avalanches rather than one cycle of very large avalanches was a possibility with this storm.

With all this in mind, I was very happy to see bluebird skies on my drive north to Pinkham this morning. A perfect opportunity to see what happened and hopefully confirm what we thought. The following is documentation of the carnage Brian and I found today. Every gully we forecast slid (except the Little Headwall) including multiple unnamed features and snowfields. Both Ravines had debris travel the farthest of the season. Particularly noteworthy, Hillman’s Highway jumped the dogleg. We are in the midst of a winter that is shaping up quite well.

Huntington: South and Odell

Huntington Ravine

The North Wall of Huntington

An example of the widespreadness of the avalalanche cycle. This unnamed gully is to looker’s left of Escape Hatch. It was one of the few visible crown lines that had not reloaded.

An impressive amount of snow in Tuckerman.

Left Gully and the Chute. Note the pillow lingering in the upper reaches of Left.

Lobster Claw, R Cubed, Q-Bert, and the Fourth Dimension. These gullies all grew substantially from the storm.

Lip, Sluice, and Right Gully, Note the crown in the Lip from early Tuesday morning.

Brian feeling very exposed on the floor of Tuckerman which has grown significantly.

The Boott Spur Ridge looking very filled in. The Lower Snowfields grew dramatically.

Hillman’s Highway from the debris tha jumped the dogleg.

The Lower Snowfields and Hillman’s from the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Wow.

 

Back to the original thought of when do the Extreme slats get posted. We were certain that avalanches would take place and today we saw signs of at least one cycle in every forecast area. Travel advice of Avoid all avalanche terrain was appropriate. As to the size and distribution, we saw signs of large and very large avalanches in many areas. The feedback Brian and I received in the field today was great. We take our ratings seriously and validation of our ratings is always a great thing to see.

If this wasn’t enough, be sure to check out the weather forecast for tomorrow. While the snow totals are going down, we’re still looking at upwards of 12″ by Thursday morning with increasing winds. It might not be Extreme, but I’m excited for the high pressure moving in on Friday and getting visibility of more avalanches.

See you on the hill.

Helon.

Come see us at Ice Fest in North Conway

Swing by International Mountain Equipment in North Conway this afternoon from 3:30 to 5:30 when the post-climbing social hour will be going on. Some of our forecast team, including our newest recruit, Ryan Matz, will be on hand to talk snow and avalanches or to just shoot the breeze. Snow Rangers may or may not be wearing a uniform depending upon whether adult beverages are being consumed so ask around if you are not sure who is who. Tomorrow night, our own Joe Klementovich will be presenting some of his amazing photography along with some unique historical photos at 7:30pm to warm-up the crowd before the headline act starts. See you there!

Submit Your Avalanche or Snowpack Observations

The website plugin that allowed observation submissions through our website hasn’t been functioning properly, leading to lots of confusing conversations with folks about information we never received. Some folks were submitting information through other channels like Instagram, Facebook messenger and occasionally through email at mwactucks@gmail.com. Thanks for those observations and please keep them coming. Recent observations are helpful to the community, and to us, for lots of reasons. The form and photo submission page on our website is again up and running in a simpler form. Don’t feel that you have to submit a super detailed observation that meets SWAG standards, though that is certainly welcome. Any information or photos, especially for natural or human-triggered avalanches, are really helpful. Click the Resources tab and slide down to the Submit Your Observations at the bottom of the list. Thanks, and have fun out there!

Website changes

You may have noticed the new map adjacent to our avalanche advisory on our homepage this week. MWAC superstar volunteer, Jeff Fongemie, created this map plugin and and brought to fruition a goal of ours to make it easier to visualize areas of hazard in our forecast areas. Additionally, many folks either don’t know the names and locations of our forecast areas or have some of the alternative run names for the areas in mind when looking at our written advisory. The details of the forecast can be hard to remember after an hour hike into the terrain but hopefully a visual display of the hazard ratings may help you identify places to go as well as avoid. Though it may seem obvious, it is important to remember that the graphic is more a tool to help you understand the avalanche problem than an actual map to navigate through the hazard. For that reason, we drew the polygon shapes of the avalanche paths in the generally area of the feature and generally larger than it’s largest historical path. The location of each polygon is however a good reflection of the compass orientation and aspect, to some degree, of the slope so identifying avalanche problems due to prevailing wind loading or scouring, and solar gain should be more apparent.

Above all, continue to read our advisory, the weather, the snowpack history and then reassess as you enter the terrain. Snow and weather changes and with it, so does the hazard so think critically and realize that there is much more to the story than the ultra-basic message contained in a one-word rating.

Check out the map. We hope it helps.

Thanks also to Jon Hall who put it a lot of work and is doing some interesting stuff with 3D mapping of avalanche terrain.

 

Huntington Ravine on Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It was hard to find any wind slab that formed from Sunday’s one inch in Huntington Ravine. True to form, strong winds scoured gullies down to the melt-freeze crust from last Thursday. That being said, the snow coverage in places is impressive. Thanks to several December storms that came in on south winds, Escape Hatch, South, Odell and Central Gullies are well-filled in with snow. All of the ice bulges in those can currently be avoided on snow, albeit perhaps a narrow strip of crampon-worthy snow. Check out the following pictures from yesterday and today:

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Escape Hatch

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South Gully

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Odell Gully

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Mike Pelchat and Matty Bowman on Pinnacle

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Central Gully

The power of the sun is impressive. During the day today, the fan underneath the north wall was softening quite nice. Lots of small icefall from the cliffs around Diagonal and lots of rock showing in the northern gullies.

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Yale Gully

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Damnation Gully

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North Gully

Thinking ahead to tomorrow, snow is still in the forecast. It’s looking like around 5″ by the time the sun rises tomorrow. Winds are dead calm at the moment, but will increase to the mid-20s and swing as far as the SE. Snow showers may continue through the day tomorrow with another few inches accumulating on the ground.

Capture

Courtesy of the National Weather Service

See you on the hill.

-Helon

Photos on January 11, 2017

Huntington Ravine

Huntington Ravine from the old Dow Cache site

Huntington Ravine from the old Dow Cache site

South Gully

South Gully

Yale and Damnation Gullies

Yale and Damnation Gullies

Escape Hatch

Escape Hatch

Wind loading on the Boott Spur Ridge

Wind loading on the Boott Spur Ridge

Great to see lots of people enjoying the new snow today. Get it while you can, as it looks like rain is on its way.

Weather forecast

Courtesy of the National Weather Service

Post-nor’easter

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