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Old 12-27-2012, 07:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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This is for Killclimbz and all the other veterans of snowpack on here. How many feet in a 24 or 48 hour period would you need to consider taking avalanche gear inbounds? Even if it is cut/bombed? Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:19 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
Snow doesn't like rapid changes. 4ft of snow in such a short time is most definitely rapid change. Unusual even for Tahoe. Vibes to all the people involved. Sad day.
Really crazy amount of snow in such a small period of time, like you say it's even unusual for Tahoe. My sister posted these pics to her FB on that day, they show just how much snow was in the area:

Her deck:

Her driveway after digging her car out:

From the tram at Alpine that day:

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Old 12-28-2012, 10:07 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ARSENALFAN View Post
This is for Killclimbz and all the other veterans of snowpack on here. How many feet in a 24 or 48 hour period would you need to consider taking avalanche gear inbounds? Even if it is cut/bombed? Thanks in advance.
Most of the time inbounds even during heavy snow fall is just fine. Ski patrol does a great job. That said. Bombing snow pack is more effective in Continental and Intermountain snow packs. Ski Patrol gets more bang for it's buck there so to speak. The snow if much more affected by explosive charges in these climates. So places like Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, if it's been blasted it's probably pretty safe.

In Maritime snow packs the wetter climate tends to absorbed the explosive force. It doesn't propagate through the snow pack like it does in the drier less dense climates. I think the deeper nature of the snow pack also helps facilitate this. Sometimes ski patrol can just blast like hell, and a slope seems fine. They open it and then it rips after a few people get on it. Happened to me on the Quail face at Homewood. Ski Patrol has developed several blasting techniques to alleviate this problem, but nothing is fool proof as of yet.

So does this mean on a huge day at Squaw or Alpine you should be rocking a beacon? Maybe, if you are with a partner equipped with one and you both have a shovel, probe, and know how to use it. Some places like Baker require you to have this gear and a partner for certain areas of the mountain during high snow fall times. Overall you are probably better served taking a basic avalanche awareness or Level I course and pay extra attention to terrain when they cover it. Being able to recognize and avoid terrain traps when conditions are questionable is a great skill to have. It's best to not get caught in the first place.

As far as snow fall goes. When it's snowing over an inch and hour, you should start thinking about avalanche danger. Especially when it is falling at that rate for more than four hours. That is a lot of snow piling up quick. Winds can load more than 10x the amount of snow falling into pockets on the mountain. Making for especially dangerous conditions. Ah inch an hour for 24 hours, you can bet avalanche danger is going to be very high. Double that snow fall rate and double the danger.

I could go on, needless to say there are always a lot of factors to consider. Nothing is hard, there are just a lot of them. If you just want to learn basic info about avalanches, a avalanche awareness class is great. If you want to get full on into backcountry riding, take a Level I.
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