View Full Version : Routing finding
12-07-2004, 12:09 PM
Assuming one was going to ski the Chute, not that I am, I'm just curious about a couple things.
Lets say you are standing infront of the Chute and the conditions are Low. Anything higher would stop one in his/heretracks to just admire the Chute from afar.
1. Would you climb left or right of the hour glass?
2. What spot would you pick to dig a test pit?
3. What additional spots might you dig a pit?
There are few on this site that have been trained to travel in Avalanche terrain. I am curious if there is a concensus on which path to travel safely.
12-07-2004, 12:41 PM
Good questions. It's useful for folks to compare notes on routefinding issues.
3 preliminary suggestions:
#1: Wear your beacon and keep it on.
#2: Check your batteries.
#3: See #1 and #2.
When conditions allow, my first instinct is to climb exactly that which I will ski -- i.e. I would consider climbing the chute/hourglass itself. If I had to pick one side of the chute proper to ascend, it'd be the right: I got up those ledges with minimal difficulty two weeks ago, whereas the left is a 20'+/- rock buttress.
As far as pits go: my primary concerns would include (1) triggering a slide above the choke point that would funnel inward through the hourglass's waist, and (2) a point release (depending on snow conditions) at the choke point itself. The hourglass is a classic terrain trap, hence concern (1). To address this concern, a pit in the area above the choke could be informative. Concern (2) comes from issues of snow loading at the choke point. To gauge this might require a pit in the choke itself -- somewhere I'd be unlikely to want to stop.
The avy forecast cites "a variety of layers of windslab, graupel, unconsolidated snow and windpack". To help understand this, I'd consider a pit on the lower snow apron. A pit higher up would generally be a good idea, but I suspect snowpack depths are still rather low up there -- the snow is still filling in the spaces between the rocks. This is good in terms of anchoring, but makes any given pit potentially less representative of the overall conditions. Particularly with the spatial discontinuities of early season snowpacks, it's important to remember that it only takes one rotten area to start a slide.
I'd be very interested to see what others think.
being DA for a moment:
Hey who's digging up the skiing terrain? That su-ks, now I have to pinpoint my turn to avoid 1) the freaking wall on skier's right 2) the hole and 3) the launching pad on skier's left.....
now back to self:
Obviously we are interested in sluffs and slides where we will be skiing but digging holes in the line seems like it would make the skiing harder. Rather than dig in the line it might be good to dig in a similar location...like the narrows of skiers left option to the chute...it's a bit steeper than the hourglass, but it's a smaller trap....and it's better protected from big slides from above
12-07-2004, 12:57 PM
To gauge this might require a pit in the choke itself -- somewhere I'd be unlikely to want to stop.
As I too am interested in keeping the skiing clean, maybe I need to clarify. I would not actually dig a pit in the choke. For data acquisition purposes, it would be ideal -- but not only would it junk up the skiing, but I suspect it may add to instability from the choke point down. No way would I dig a pit there! I agree with RR.
I always seem to climb up the left side(looking up) of the Chute... Which is the south side of the Chute which should make it more stable due to sun exposure 0 In the winter at least.....
I'd do a rutchblock test at the base of the Chute where your not exposed then maybe a little sheer test at the choke... Keeping an eye out for pillows building higher in the Chute. On the way up - if I get a green light - I'd use my poles/hands to check the snow for something/layer I didn't find previously..
.....I've only taken Avi I....
12-07-2004, 01:25 PM
I hate climbing the chute, It is steep and late season you can end up kicking steps into 1/2" of ice over rock.
I'd use crampons.
But, for my taste, the chute is one of thiose violations of climb what you ski. I typically climb left gully and cut up climbers right to the little spur between it and the chute. Easier climb, less chance of getting taken out by a falling skier, slide etc in the chute.
12-07-2004, 04:28 PM
I'd never climb the Chute with anyone in it, either climbing or preparing for a descent, above me. Otherwise, climb what you ski solves the problem of navigating the descent. Especially if the whole top isn't skiable, traversing in leaves you skiing a cautious line looking for good terrain while climb what you ski shows you best line and you can concentrate on getting the most out of it.
In that picture, I think I'd start up the right side, using crampons and ax, but I'd wander around wherever the surface offered the best footing for crampons.
Avi wise, what I do depends a lot on the recent history of forecasts, including the forecast for that day. Low or moderate, I would start probing well below the choke point and then continue probing periodically trying to feel a difference that might indicate a surface to which the overlying snow might not be bonded. At and just above the choke, deep unstable snow would be a concern if the history suggested the possibility for such an accumulation.
At considerable levels, pits become more important. The first one gets dug low in order to establish a baseline for what you expect to see. A second one goes above the choke, maybe half way between the choke and the expected starting point for the descent. Again the history suggests whether I am looking for signs of slab or signs of loose instability. The area at the top of this gully is one where slab can form. The area just above the choke point would be a good area for unstable loose snow.
My pits would not be sufficient for formal tests, just an examination of layering by eye and penetration of fist or fingers. This is pretty lax testing and would not be acceptable but for the fact that on-site rangers are making daily forecasts, distinguishing between exposures and types of terrain. With only a general or regional forecast, such as one would find for most western backcountry areas, at least some formal testing needs to be done.
I wouldn't be in this kind of gully if it were high or extreme danger. In fact I won't go into the bowl at all at extreme. In areas where there are routes on ridges, high and extreme may be considered with careful route choice and frequest evaluation.
I haven't taken the Avi Classes yet.
I've always climbed up the right side. (Looking up)
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