Archived Climbing Report - April 09, 2004
These reports were summaries based on reports from climbers and skiers, weather and avalanche reports, and prior experiences. Observations are sparse and conditions vary widely throughout the Cascades as well as with elevation and aspect on any particular mountain. The intent of these reports is to give a starting point for what to expect - but your safety and that of your partners relies on your own observations and decisions!
These reports are archives and are saved for reference only - they do not apply at this time!!!
Friday - April 9, 2004
Spring continues in full force and it promises to be both a crowded and hot weekend.
The weather through this weekend will be the warmest yet with the potential for records to be broken. Fortunately there has been a lot of warming and cooling already this spring and most reports indicate a well consolidated snowpack. Reports from the central part of the Oregon Cascades indicate progressive daytime softening from the surface down with a rock hard base underneath. Thus the biggest concern is how wet the surface snow gets and how deep that layer gets. Be observant for very rapid surface melting with the warm temperatures.
If you can push an axe or a ski pole through a supportable crust into soft mush where meltwater has been accumulating be especially cautious since the crust is the only thing supporting you and if it softens to failure you don't want to be there. We have no reports of this at this time, but reports are sparse.
Night time temperatures in the 5000' - 7000' range have barely reached freezing the last two nights and the freezing level is rising. On Thursday air temperatures at 6000' in the mid-cascades were into the 40's by 9am. Good early morning conditions will depend on clear night time skies, which are forecast.
Skiing conditions are excellent, especially on the right aspects at the right hour. Skiing also allows a change of terrain as the warming progresses. At least some roads are reportedly melted out up to 4500' making the backcountry very accessible for this time of year.
Be cautious of falling ice from warm air aloft, especially in routes such as Leuthold Couloir. Be careful of being committed on a route as it turns too warm. An accident occurred on the Reid Glacier Headwall last weekend which may have been due in part to soft snow. Wy'East is often underestimated in length and difficulty and finishes with steep east facing slopes that get first sunlight.
Climb early and watch your progress in terms of warming temperatures, softening snow, and options. In crowded areas such as Mt Hood assume very high use and the factors that come with that - climbers above you and delays beyond your control on popular routes.
Recent local member climbs have included Gibralter Ledges on Rainier, Mt Hoods south side and the base of Reid Headwall, and skiing on Diamond peaks east and west sides. Last weekend West Crater Rim and the Old Chute on the south side of Mt Hood were reported to be in good condition and skiing was reportedly good all around by 11-12. On Thursday on Diamond Peak the east side was reportedly good around 12-1 (perhaps earlier) and the west face was good at 3pm. Keep in mind that this weekend will bring substantially warmer conditions that existed during those reports.
As the weekend winds down we should be starting the week with some cooling which will refreeze things solid and may provide some excellent firm climbing conditions as there is not a lot of storm activity included in the forecast at the moment. Skiing may become more of a challenge if daytime surface thawing is poor.