Sunday, March 13, 2011

Steph Abegg's Website

Seattle climber and photographer Steph Abegg has made a map of Mount Rainier with major routes drawn on it, each route shown in a different color. It is intended to be used for planning, rather than as a field map, and makes a nice poster for your wall. Click on the map to see it in a larger view:

Steph has also taken SAR, fatality, and climbing data provided on and produced an array of graphs and analyses.

If you would like to make a poster of the map or look at her graphs and data, Steph can be reached via her webpage:

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Alta Vista Snow Pit

Howdy Everyone!

This week's snow pit is from the east side of Alta Vista and features the massive amount of new snow that we received during last week's storm cycle.

As you can see from the pit graph, there is small sun crust at the surface (that made for bad skiing) and below that is a 105 cm layer of cold, new snow. This layer has settled about 5" and continues to stabilize. Below this layer there are a number of complex ice crust layers that were observed just below the surface in the Feb. 9th snow pit near The Castle in the Tatoosh Range. These layers remain a source of instability and are acting as release surfaces for the deep slab avalanches that have been occurring in Washington.

Stability tests from the Alta Vista snow pit did not indicate deep instability. The compression, extended column, and the Rutschblock tests had failures either near the surface or did not fail. However, as noted by NWAC, even as the snowpack stabilizes there are still persistent weak layers, and localized areas throughout the region are experiencing large, slab releases.

The forecast is showing another series of fronts that are expected to cross the Northwest through the end of the weekend, bringing significant new snow accumulation. Cautious route finding is encouraged if traveling in the backcountry.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Climate Prediction (March April May)

Just was looking at the NWS climate prediction center's March-May forecast. Here is my summary: Looks like cooler than usual for the period, but average precipitation. This could be good for climbing and skiing on Mt. Rainier this spring!

Moderate la nina conditions continue in the tropical pacific ocean. Sea surface temperatures (ssts) in the equatorial pacific ocean are below average from around 160e to the south american coast, with ssts between 1 and 2 degrees c below normal in some areas. This very large area of anomalously cool ssts has significant impact on the large scale atmospheric circulation throughout the tropical pacific region, which, in turn, is expected to considerably influence the mean atmospheric circulation patterns over north america.

The temperature outlook for march, april, and may 2011 reflects typical spring la nina condition and favors below average temperatures from washington and oregon eastward across the northern rockies to the western great lakes region. The chances for above average mean temperatures are enhanced from the interior southwest and southern rockies to the central gulf coast states.
Here's the page in full:

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Howdy Everybody! The road crew, after a huge three day effort, plowed their way up to Paradise today! We were able to get the weather and record that 41" of new snow has fallen in the past three days, with a snow water equivalent of 2.82" it's drier than normal. Snow stability assessments made early this week observed a 3 to 4 foot crown fracture on southern aspects just below the Barn Flats area. Stability tests near the Canyon Rim lookout on wind ward slopes produced moderate failures about 30 to 45 cm below the surface with Q2 shears. However, these observations were made early in the week before temperatures rose considerably. While the new snow is settling, continued strong westerly winds and additional new snow are keeping the instability high. Hopefully, the road to Paradise will soon be open to the public, and for all those chomping at the bit, cautious backcountry travel is highly advised!