Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hazardous Upper Mountain Ski Conditions

Upper mountain surface conditions
After nearly 5 weeks of high pressure and sunshine, the vast majority of the mountain is beginning to show signs of late season snow conditions. Rockfall, icefall, opening snow bridges, sastrugi, suncups and penitentes are just a few of the obstacles/hazards that folks are dealing with at this stage in the game. Although there are plenty who would argue otherwise, climbing rangers are asking that ski mountaineers consider putting off their summit ski descent until next year when conditions are more suitable for safe skiing. The argument that routes on the mountain still "can" be skied doesn't necessarily mean that they "should" be skied.

Less than ideal skiing conditions.
Late summer snow conditions have already lead to two skier fatalities in the last three weeks and rangers have responded to multiple accidents/near misses for folks who were perhaps getting in over their heads. As it stands now, conditions on some of the most popular ski descents of the mountain would prove to be tedious/strenuous at best for even the most experienced skiers. For those that feel the need to ski on/around the mountain late into the season, rangers ask that you ski slopes lower on the mountain that aren't exposed to such high consequence terrain. No route on the mountain is worth injuring yourself or worse.

No one skis their best after being up all night, after ascending 9000 vertical feet, at high altitudes, dehydrated, and on light-weight ski-mo skis.  Make conservative decisions and plan on skiing real pow this winter!