Archived Climbing Report - June 28, 2005
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!!!
Tuesday June 28, 2005Bottom Line
Since the last update on May 27 the weather has continued to be unsettled. There have been some good conditions and some periods of precipitation. Reports of good skiing (and sometimes climbing) conditions over the past few weeks have come from the Three Sisters, Mt Adams SW Chutes, Diamond Peak, and the north side of Mt Hood.
Generally unsettled spring weather has continued to bring snow to the higher elevations, although the snow line for most recent weather systems has been 8000' or above. As a result there seem to be surprisingly good conditions at high elevations with mid-summer conditions at lower elevations. The transition currently seems to be about 7000'. Skiers, you'll probably be carrying the skis up to that point.
There have been a few reports of breakable crust and postholing, from the Middle Sister west slopes on lower angled terrain and from Mt Shasta. This doesn't sound widespread and will hopefully become more solid with the summer weather approaching.
The latest low pressure system is clearing out this afternoon and a weak high pressure will set in for the rest of the week. What we really have is a zonal flow (i.e. directly W to E in the upper atmosphere) with no well defined low or high pressure systems. For the remainder of the week this should mean good conditions with little chance of precipitation. Expect morning low clouds in the Willamette Valley but none up in the mountains. While the forecasts don't mention it there is a possibility of brisk winds at higher elevations with this weather pattern.
Over the weekend there is another low pressure moving through, primarily north of the Oregon Cascades. The most pronounced effects should be Saturday evening into Monday, but the forecast isn't clear and has a rather low confidence. Check the most recent forecasts before you go.
The storm track in general has been to the north and the conditions have often been better to the south. The most recent outlook from the Medford weather center does not mention any degradation of weather conditions through the weekend at all.
There is not a lot of information on snow conditions, except that some skiing has been found.
Below 7000' there is little to no snow in most areas. At the highest elevations there may be pockets of new snow. Any avalanche hazard is probably limited to areas at high elevations with wind deposits, especially if they are in the direct sun as things warm up this week. Such areas are probably isolated, but they will exist.
One final note on the snowpack is that crevasse bridges are getting thin. There have been a few cases of breaking through at least partially on Mt Rainier and Mt Hood. Keep this in mind if traveling on glaciers. In the past 2-3 years the crevasses on White River glacier have extended out to the west into part of the common route up Mt Hoods south side. Avoid this hazard by keeping to the climbers left below Crater Rock.
Know and practice your self arrest techniques, and think about what kind of slopes you can and cannot stop on and in what conditions. This, along with glissading while wearing crampons, is a common factor in accidents.
There was a fatality on Cooper Spur last week when a solo climber fell. It occured at 6:15am or so. Snow at that hour is often (hopefully) firmly refrozen and acceleration in a fall is fast. The climber who died was experienced and well equipped and seemed to understand and accept the risks involved. Do you?
Mt Shasta also had one case of failure to self arrest which did not result in serious injury. The pieces could all be collected at the bottom again. But it sounds like this was not the first one.
Consider the consequences of a fall (where will you go?) and the condition of the snow and put these into the context of how you feel about your self-arrest or belay skills and what you're level of acceptable risk is.