Archived Climbing Report - April 29, 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!!!
Thursday April 29, 2004
[ Update Saturday afternoon 5/1 - In the Sisters the recent snow is consolidated down to a layer 2-3 inches thick and bootpacking is possible with very little postholing. While there are large slides on and adjacent to Villard Glacier there appears to be no recent activity and little activity at all elsewhere on the mountain. Thursday and Friday nights were clear and cold with a solid refreeze. There is also very little evidence of rockfall so far on the north and east sides.
While good skiing all day was found in the Sisters up to 8000' the climb report for Mt Hood mentions postholing and snow getting too wet for skiing by mid-day. So the good consolidation found in the Sisters may not be representative of other areas. (end update) ]
Reports from last weekend were limited and during the weekdays since then are non-existent. It sounds like those that did get out last weekend found a variety of conditions but chose mostly to avoid steeper routes. The avalanche debris from the recent rapid warming on top of fresh snowfall kept most people conservative. A few steeper routes were climbed successfully. It sounds like things had stabilized a bit more by Sunday even though it was a warmer day.
Skiing reports were mixed. On Mt Hood the surface has been softening into good skiing on some days, even while remaining unsupportable for boot packing. Travel on foot may still involve postholing. On St Helens boot travel was possible in the early hours, after 4 am, but by mid-morning snowshoes were needed. On Mt Shasta some corn skiing was reported before the end of the heat wave mid-week. On Lassen reports were of reasonably good skiing, but no corn snow and slushy conditions by the time the lower elevations were reached. At least three parties attempted Mt Jefferson. Two turned back fairly low. The third summitted at a very late hour for the conditions and may have started at least one wet point release below them on the way up. On the way down they had an accident and were evacuated. However, the cause of this does not appear to be a direct result of warm temperatures but a spot with thin snow over hard ice which was hit while plunge stepping. Such spots can exist at any time of day and can persist through summer and fall on some routes. Be aware that the melting and refreezing may have actually created localized spots of hard ice and that those spots may not be obvious. This is most common around rocks where the heat is conducted into the snowpack more efficiently, especially in areas with thin snow and a number of rocks. But it may occur elsewhere as well.
Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday a weak weather system moved down the east side of the Cascades and brought gusty winds and cooling through Wednesday. It is now warming as a strong ridge of high pressure rebuilds. The weekend is looking very nice, but with pretty warm temps and high freezing levels. Hopefully by now the last layer of snowfall has received enough melt/freeze cycling to offer either a firm surface or some corn on the right aspects. Reports are that skis, or maybe snowshoes in some areas, are the way to go right now to avoid postholing. The avalanche hazard should be much lower than during last weekends heat wave, but with such warm temperatures there may still be some localized areas of late afternoon hazard.
The good weather should continue until Monday afternoon or evening when a change to showers and cooler temperatures is forecast. The long range modeling shows the low pressure behind this change lingering just offshore of Oregon for a while, with a mixture of cloudiness, sun breaks and chances for showers all in the forecast for about 8-10 days (until the 12th or 13th). Thats pretty far out to rely on, especially with any details. Breaks and brief spells of good weather during these patterns often occur but are very hard to predict the timing of.
On Saturday the moon is up in the evening and sets at 5:30 am, sunrise is 6:30 am but civil twilight is 5:30. The moon is full Sunday night, which typically means it rises at sunset and sets at sunrise.
Enjoy the good conditions through Monday. Many climbing routes and ski tours should be enjoyable right now. Get an alpine start and keep an eye on the amount of warming once the sun is on things. Expect postholing if you are on foot, but you might luck out - especially early in the day. If you miss out now it looks like an unsettled period will be taking over for at least a week, including next weekend.