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What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

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What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby rkalsbeek » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:17 am

Since I am getting into winter hiking and this snow in Denver is getting me excited, I have two questions:

1. When you are planning a peak for the weekend, what kind of snow/weather are you looking for/hoping for during the prior week? Snowing all week and then sunny for two days before your summit attempt? Sun all week long? Snow all week long? What kind of weather during the week just gets you really excited for weekend climbing? I know safe snow conditions extend past the previous week, but just curious.

2. Are there any websites or ways to see past weather? Maybe its right in front of me, but I'm having trouble finding a site that will show me the past 7 days weather for a given location.

Thanks!
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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby Dave B » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:41 am

I'm not sure I understand your question, but the weather of the week preceding getting out doesn't really matter as much as what the forecast for the day you plan to be out. Even then, I've learned to interpret most forecasts with my optimist glasses on, which means unless NOAA is predicting a major storm, I'll head out anyways and just turn around if things get out of control.

The other side of that coin, obviously, is snow fall amounts during the week. Big snow falls accompanied by strong winds can load lee-slopes and increase avy danger. This needs to be taken into consideration when choosing a route. But this gets into avy safety issues which really need to be learned in an Avy-I classroom setting and reinforced with Bruce Tremper's book.

In my opinion, the best forecasting website is NOAA and they have a separate site to link to historical climatic data for specific locations.
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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby Lemmiwinks » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:43 am

rkalsbeek wrote:Since I am getting into winter hiking and this snow in Denver is getting me excited, I have two questions:

1. When you are planning a peak for the weekend, what kind of snow/weather are you looking for/hoping for during the prior week? Snowing all week and then sunny for two days before your summit attempt? Sun all week long? Snow all week long? What kind of weather during the week just gets you really excited for weekend climbing? I know safe snow conditions extend past the previous week, but just curious.

2. Are there any websites or ways to see past weather? Maybe its right in front of me, but I'm having trouble finding a site that will show me the past 7 days weather for a given location.

Thanks!


Snotel is probably your best bet regarding snow/temp data for the past 7 days. Just click on a location near where you plan on travelling. http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/Colorado/colorado.html
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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby I Man » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:51 am

EDIT: fair enough, been spending too much time in the desert. Main reason to watch preceeding days weather is to assess slide danger. Knowing how to do that is important.

If you're unsure, just assume if there is snow it can slide. And also, don't listen to me :lol:


Its a bit early to worry about slides. All that matters is the weather on the days you are hiking.
Last edited by I Man on Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby kansas » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:05 am

I Man wrote:Its a bit early to worry about slides. All that matters is the weather on the days you are hiking.


Here's a thread from October of '10 that says otherwise. Not saying its the same this year, but I don't think the calendar determines avy danger.

https://14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=27830&start=12
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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby ajkagy » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:06 am

I Man wrote:Its a bit early to worry about slides. All that matters is the weather on the days you are hiking.


actually there's plenty of snow out there to slide now, well over 2 feet just outside of town here...not sure where you've been the last few weeks :)
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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby rkalsbeek » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:07 am

Dave B wrote:I'm not sure I understand your question, but the weather of the week preceding getting out doesn't really matter as much as what the forecast for the day you plan to be out.


Dave B wrote:The other side of that coin, obviously, is snow fall amounts during the week. Big snow falls accompanied by strong winds can load lee-slopes and increase avy danger. This needs to be taken into consideration when choosing a route.


You're second comment is basically what I was looking for. I will always look at the forecast for the day I plan on heading out, but I meant what kind of weather the week prior would be best for minimal avy conditions.

In my research, it just seems like if there is snow, there is avy risk (which is obvious). But what I'm trying to figure out is, during the week while I'm monitoring weather and snow fall, what kind of weather patterns over the week would make me think, "Ya, this is the weekend to go out!"

Lemmiwinks Thanks for the website recommendation!
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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:11 am

You're probably interested in avalanche conditions, so why not just check the avalanche forecast?
https://avalanche.state.co.us/pub_bc.php
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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby rkalsbeek » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:14 am

Thanks, Jim. You are right about that! And I do, but also looking for other ways for me to educate myself.
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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby metalmountain » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:26 am

It really depends on the time of year, and I don't think you can give a blanket statement of "If 'A' happens and also 'B' then everything will be great". No one hashttps://avalanche.state.co.us/index.php mentioned, which is a great place to start planning anything snow oriented around here. They aren't doing any regular reporting quite yet, but its a great site once the season gets going.

As mentioned before, winds and snowfall make a big difference in the week leading up. As do temperature variations. But those things can also make a big difference just the night before as well. Basically these are all reasons why you should go get some avy training if you are going to spend any time up high when snow is involved. To me its as much about route choice and decision making then tons of homework leading up to the climb. You have to be able to make judgement in the field based off reading the snow in front of you, and to me that is almost more important than worrying about the weather leading up to the climb. I use the weather leading up as a guideline for what area would be the best to hit up and what route up the mountain mainly.

As an example, last weekend we climbed the east ridge of Pettingell. There was some snow (not huge amounts) the days leading up to the climb, and it was pretty cold the night before with light winds. All these things are good news in my book generally. We climbed up a gully at the end of the lake that was measured at 30 degrees and maxed out closer to 40 probably near the top. And there was definitely MORE than enough snow to slide, especially at that angle. But the conditions felt good at the time we were there. But they would have been total crap about 2 hours later when the temps shot up. Also, I will say as we were topping out on it we started punching through to a crappy layer of faceted snow that was under probably about a foot of snow. So the necessary ingredients are already there. And that was before this most recent snow, which is now sitting on top of a crap layer that baked in the sun all this week.

And yes, no one should listen to Iman ;)

*Edit...ack, I took too long to type that and got beat to the punch with the link.
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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby rkalsbeek » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:46 am

Thanks Metal Mtn. Tons of great info here. I really appreciate everyone's responses!

Some of my assumptions have been validated, but it also sounds like it's time for me to take an Avy class!
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Re: What kind of weather are you looking for over the week?

Postby Dave B » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:59 am

It sounds like you got what you were interested in. So, at risk of beating a dead horse, avy training is superlative. Colorado has a continental snow pack and arguably one of the worst snow packs in the county. In places like the Pacific Northwest, you can typically see rapid downswings in avy danger after a larger storm as the snow pack is quick to consolidate. Unfortunately, this isn't the case here where we tend to have problems with deep buried and persistent layers and a snow pack that is very slow to consolidate. Further, storm slabs can be triggered to slide from significant distances away (quite often well below them) and present another problem when traveling in valleys that would otherwise feel safe. To make a long story short, avys are the number one and number two safety issues for winter back country travel in CO, cold weather is number three (this is of course just my opinion).

Avy I requires a substantial amount of time and money. An avy awareness class through Friends of Berthoud Pass, REI or any other organization is a great place to start as it's free and only a couple hours long.

Then, you can refer to this page on climbing the 14ers in winter (mainted by Scott P) which is a great resource and has good information on peaks that can be climbed by routes with minimal avy risk.

Then as you might wish to travel into more dangerous terrain, Avy I becomes imperative.
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