Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby altidude » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:04 pm

My partner and I saw you from the summit, which we made via the west ridge. We were wondering why you turned around, glad to hear that decision was made, but bummer on the conditions. We encountered some wind slabs and then bulletproof on the ridge, which made it a little interesting at the crux.
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby somethingrandom » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:34 pm

While I am always grateful of reports on avy concerns as CAIC does their best but are not 100% every time, surely I'm not the only one that noticed the arrogance of the soapbox douche (er, OP) telling people to log off this site to gain more information??

EVERYONE could use more information/experience in dealing with avy danger, and often times CAIC classes/experience runs are posted here, as are hiking/climbing partners made to learn from information others have...

Sorry, but it had to be said; just because you arent the avalanche champion king dong the OP obviously is, does not mean you need to leave this site, just learn what you can from who you can...
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby benners » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:29 am

Thanks for the post! Indeed, there are some really weird conditions out there right now. A few weeks ago we found 4 feet of unconsolidated, rotten sugar snow on a north facing aspect in the Tenmile. Literally the entire snowpack from surface to bedrock was facets. What was even crazier is that 100 feet below that, there was a stable, spring like crust layer with a few inches of recycled powder on top. The transition from good to horrendous conditions in less than 100 feet of climbing was amazing to me.

Yesterday in Atlantis we found a stable base, with several inches of heavy, wind/sun affected new (within the last few days) snow sitting on top that was peeling off in chunks as we skied it. Definitely a strange year, but I agree with Elliot, not grounds to hang up the skis yet by any means. There is still good skiing to be had out there if you look in the right place, and as the sun and heat continues to settle the snow, we should get some corn here soon.
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby jmoney » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:53 am

Nothing like some high school name calling to boost the intellectual value of a thread ](*,) I made that comment half jokingly, and I admit I could have worded it better. What prompted me to get up on a soapbox was seeing a group of 3 skiers/riders who were heading up to ski the East Face of Huron Sun with NO AVY GEAR whatsoever. On Fri I met an excellent group of folks at the Dem TH who were attempting to carry a makeshift hot tub to the summit, spend the night on the summit and snowboard down in the morning. One of the folks specifically told me he did not have winter clothing and was a little nervous. I ended up spending the night worrying about these folks' well-being. (I've never been called a DB before for caring about people :D )

What I meant to articulate is this......if the temptation of looking at trip reports might persuade someone to venture into the backcountry before they are prepared, then MAYBE they should remove the temptation. I feel I can make that comment because I personally made that mistake 6 years ago and know just how powerful that temptation can be. However, if folks can resist the temptation, then the forum and trip reports are of immense educational value! For the benefit of everyone let's focus on disseminating helpful information.

To everyone else thank you so much for the great discussion. We were very curious to see what other folks were finding out there.

Bill, I just got a chance to read your trip report and it gave me a good chuckle since we repeated it almost to the letter (minus the wonderful descent). We intended to climb/ski the main couloir dropping from the summit; however, I forgot my crampons so we were forced to ascend the standard. We noticed the instability right around where you described seeing it.

To any beginners out there reading the thread for it's educational value, please consider that most often posts such as my original are not intended to be condescending or elitist. My use of a hyperbole did, however, ultimately detract from my intent. The climbing/skiing/hiking community tends to care directly or indirectly about other members in the community and most often posts of this nature are made in good faith. I simply don't want to see bad things happen to good people!!!
Last edited by jmoney on Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:36 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby jmoney » Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:15 am

Dex, you are absolutely correct. We were going off the reading of the altimeter, which appears to have been slightly off. Going by the topo we were at approximately 13,300ft. I marked the approximate position of our snow pit on the attached image. As you can see by the image we weren't quite on the actual route.

My only concern with the standard route is both our party, as well as, the esteemed Mr. Middlebrook and USAKeller, both found pronounced instabilities on the E aspect below the saddle. I imagine though this return to summer will open up a fairly safe ascent route before too long. There were already several islands of rocks leading up to the saddle.

You might want to ask Altidude (love that handle) about gaining the ridge from the the West instead. A couple weeks ago that approach seemed dry when viewed from Cloyses Lake.
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X Marks the spot
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Last edited by jmoney on Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby altidude » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:33 am

Here's a shot of you two from the summit, wish I had taken a different shot to show your location better. When we had made it back to the standard/west ride junction we noticed that you had turned around, also noticed that a sizeable rock had broke loose from the ridge and tumbled pretty close to where you had turned around! :shock:

There was a second group (3) which looked to be attempting a climb of one of Mizzou's couloirs. They seemed to be pretty far east to be attempting the "C" and it was around noon the last we saw them. Curious to know what conditions they encountered.
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby jmoney » Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:58 am

To dig we hiked up another 100ft to get away from the exposed rocks/ground, so I imagine it would have came really close actually. That is scary! Thanks for the pic.

Really hope their climb turned out OK. We heard a massive rock slide over in that area around 10am.
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby sgladbach » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:02 am

jmoney wrote: You might want to ask Altidude (love that handle) about gaining Elkhead Pass from the the West instead. A couple weeks ago that approach seemed dry when viewed from Cloyses Lake.


What does this mean? Isn't the summit of Missouri due west of Elkhead Pass?

Did you mean to recommend an attempt at Missouri fron the west ridge (i.e. Cloyses Lake ?)
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby jmoney » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:15 am

Correction made. Thank you sir! I thought I'd read that Elkhead Pass and the saddle where the standard route and west ridge routes converge were the same. If I'd taken a cursory look at the map I would have seen that's not the case.
Last edited by jmoney on Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby BillMiddlebrook » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:36 am

jmoney,
Based on the time-of-day and location of your "X", it's not surprising you found some ugly snow in that area. When we climbed the peak a few days prior, we did find some instabilities on the E aspect of the slope below the standard saddle (as you mentioned), but we were able to take a manageable line on the north side of the slope where the snow was quite shallow. We stayed pretty close to the standard trail which is the blue line above your "X" on that map.
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby metalmountain » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:14 am

somethingrandom wrote:While I am always grateful of reports on avy concerns as CAIC does their best but are not 100% every time, surely I'm not the only one that noticed the arrogance of the soapbox douche (er, OP) telling people to log off this site to gain more information??

EVERYONE could use more information/experience in dealing with avy danger, and often times CAIC classes/experience runs are posted here, as are hiking/climbing partners made to learn from information others have...

Sorry, but it had to be said; just because you arent the avalanche champion king dong the OP obviously is, does not mean you need to leave this site, just learn what you can from who you can...


I think you are missing the point...bottom line is if you don't have the gear and the knowledge to be safe on snow you shouldn't be out on the snow. Especially in a year like this. Educating yourself and being knowledgeable does not make one an elitist, douche or know it all, it just makes you more prepared for the situations that the OP was talking about. Sometimes people don't know enough to be scared of the situation they have put themselves in, and I think the OP was just trying to remind everyone that just because it was a crap snow year, doesn't mean its safe up high yet.
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Re: Super Scary Avy Conditions on Mizzou

Postby clemsonmtneer » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:13 pm

Some great observations being reported here! Glad you started this thread, Jay. In addition to the excellent forecasts the CAIC puts out, it's always nice to read first-hand observations to get an even better idea of what the conditions are like in certain areas... especially now that CAIC is done forecasting for the season.

One interesting thing a couple of you guys have posted here is finding in some areas warmer, weaker snow at a higher elevation, and frozen, more consolidated snow lower down, and Jay and I found similar conditions on Missouri. Normally, this would indicate an inversion, except it was too damn windy for there to have been an inversion. Strange conditions for sure.

What I've learned from this as well as from similar experiences is to always be very aware of the snowpack you're traveling on, even when expecting to encounter stable conditions beforehand. Spring snowpack conditions are much more predictable than in winter, but it takes more than just looking at the forecasted low temperature to determine how well the snowpack freezes on a given aspect and a given mountain... there are so many variables at play, that you never really know until you're out there and can evaluate the snowpack yourself.

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