Saturday, February 7, 2009

Harp Mtn.

A lesson in avalanche education....

A short work day on Friday sent us to Harp Mountain in the South Fork. Kurt and I, with dogs Lobita, Jade, and Katie headed after the recent snowfall Thursday night.

We found multiple instabilities as we climbed higher on the ridge.

Bullseye Clue #1: Shooting Cracks.

The dogs actually set this off. Wind slabs will usually fracture right underneath your skis.

More shooting cracks in the small wind slab down slope.

Jade chaces Lobita back towards the group.

Kurt ascending the ridgeline. The South Fork valley below. From L to R, the peaks on the ridge behind us: "The Nipple" (L), Rendezvous Peak (Center), Mount Gordon Lyon (R).

Bullseye Clue #2: Recent avalanche activity on similar slope angle and aspect. This was in a small wind loaded gully.

Bullseye Clue #3: Whumping. As I ascended the ridge (and Kurt was going poo), the entire weak layer below went "whump!!!!". Although you're on safe terrain, it still makes your stomach in your throat.
I remotely triggered this 12" thick wind slab from 75 feet away. It was slow moving and didn't run very far.

"Jadie" watch as we peel our skins and get geared up.

A closer look at the bed surface of this slide. It ripped out some more weak layers as it went over a steeper convexity.

After these "bullseye clues", we made the decision to live to ski another day and called it. We chose some mellow terrain for our decent.
First I "ski cut" the slope below us in a deliberate attempt to get more snow to slide. This is an effective technique to evaluate the snowpack.

Me dropping in to the valley floor below. Lobita, of course, close behind.

This is the bowl to the lookers left of the Harp summit. I skied this last spring and was the best spring skiing run of the year.

Call 9-1-1!! Lobita had some trauma on the way down and ripped some skin off of her pad on the back of her leg. We bandaged her up and headed back to the Patrol Base.

It was a good learning experience by taking our time to evaluate and assess the snowpack.


Blogger Tami said...

I love that Lobita follows you every where you go! If we took our dog out like that, we'd never see him again! I hope she is ok and her foot heals fast. Are you going to try to stay in AK for as long as possible? Maybe retirement?

February 8, 2009 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Matt J said...

I love AK! I am seriously thinking of getting out and staying up here. It is that good...

February 8, 2009 at 7:48 PM  

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