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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    CO
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    5,017

    Thumbs up TR: Another October Pow Day 10.14.06

    Kya, jonpierre, SurfTheEarth, FigureEleven, iskibc
    Montezuma Basin
    10.14.06

    Somebody turned on the faucet in the Elks and forgot to turn it off. El Nino is in full effect in the southern and central Colorado Mountains. Strong Gulf moisture combined with cold high elevation temps have made for one of the best early seasons on record. It doesn't get much better than this.

    Another stormy day with snow blanketing the higher elevations of the Elk Mountains = another powder feeding frenzy for the Colorado maggot crew.

    This time of year really exemplifies how location, elevation, and terrain enhanced weather really play a role in the snow depth across the state. Some high mountain areas have seen rain while others have been getting hammered by heavy snowfall. Some mountain areas (mostly northern mountains) have no snow on the ground, while other areas (Elks, San Juans) have several feet of accumulation.

    This is the time of year that amazes and stumps even the best of the weather nerds. Today was supposed to be sunny and calm with a 40% chance of rain at 12K in the afternoon. Well, they were 100% wrong. Well, maybe they were partly correct. The early morning hours were calm and clear with one of the most beautiful sunrise I've seen in a long time.

    Colors beginning to show:








    Progression of the sunrise:













    Kya skinning up in the calm before the storm:




    Within minutes after that beautiful sunrise the strong winds and snow took over and that became the theme of the day. Of course none of us were really complaining as a snowy day is always better than any other type of day, especially when you are about to ski powder.

    Our crew of 5 headed up to the usual spot with the intentions on skiing some new lines today.

    jonpierre along the ridge up to Castle:




    We had reached the summit of Castle shortly before 9AM and scoped out our intended line down the true summit face.

    Weather moving in:



    FigureEleven jumped down into the line and made a few ski cuts producing some small 6" wind slabs to release.

    FigureEleven checking out our intended line:




    Underneath the wind slabs we found some faceted snow about 12" deep on top of rock. Not looking good at all. This was the point where the weather went from overcast to downright white room where you couldn't see 15' down the slope. All in the matter of a couple of minutes. The decision to bail on this line came quick and we decided to head over to the north couloir and give that line a try.

    The snow in the north couloir was still slabby, but it had been cut up from the previous day and there wasn't that hollow-like feel to the upper layer. After a few ski cuts on the upper half we deemed it safe enough to head down slowly and work from safe zone to safe zone.

    SurfTheEarth making some nice turns on the lower apron:



    We got down safely and regrouped along the flats to go over the plan. Since visibility was making things difficult we decided to make some laps down on the lower snowfield. The snow down lower was much better. Smooth, creamy and consistent.


    JonPierre:





    Kya:




    Kya down on the lower snowfield:




    As the morning grew older the clouds lifted a bit and the constant snowfall turned into squalls, thus leaving us some nice 20 minute windows for getting up high and making turns on the upper ridges. We spotted a line on the north ridge of Castle that looked like it would be good to go. We skinned over to the apron and as we got closer the better it looked. Jonpierre and SurfTheEarth waited down lower and watched as the rest of us continued on up the couloir. We took it easy as the snow was deep, yet stable and holding strong. Punching through I found no significant layers in the snow. We worked our way up and through the steep choked section through waist deep snow before reaching the top.

    Exhausted from breaking trail up through the deep snow, I waited up top and watched as Kya and FigureEleven dropped into the chute. Kya dropped first and made some excellent turns down through the couloir and onto the apron.








    FigureEleven followed suite and made tele skiing look easy:















    I followed shortly thereafter and met up with the group down on the lower flats. High fives and smiles followed by a nice finishing run down the lower snowfield made for a great way to end the day.

    In just the past few days the stability and overall strength of the snow pack has diminished considerable. I'm starting to see a much more winter-like snow pack in that the winds have created pockets and areas of instability and danger within the snow pack. Be careful out there and have fun.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Hokkaido
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    1,303
    Nicely! 78

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    WHEREAS,
    Posts
    12,994
    you guys are freaking killing it.

    you think this pattern is a portent of what is to come this winter? (ie., west, southwest mountains getting hammered) and anything along the I-70 corridor and north getting nada? would you consider 'Zuma basin to be on the northside of the Elks, shadowed in a W/SW flow?

    I am always curious to see how fall patterns translate into full blown winter conditions a few months from now.
    Last edited by Rontele; 10-15-2006 at 10:51 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roo View Post
    I don't think I've ever seen mental illness so faithfully rendered in html.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Seat 2B
    Posts
    2,499
    Way to get some. You're making us jealous.
    dayglo aerobic enthusiast

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Slummit County, CO
    Posts
    891
    Sickbird Dave!

    I can't believe how much snow the Elks have gotten already. Wow!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Aspen
    Posts
    8,645
    So jealous!

    If Indy Pass was any indication, I would say at least another 6" fell there last night.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Was UT, AK, now MT
    Posts
    11,687
    So how do you think your midwinter snowpack will handle the early season snow?

    Those sunrise pics are amazing. Can you imagine a time lapse on that!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    P-tex, CA
    Posts
    8,438
    Ok, so now you're making me feel lazy...

    ...you still get a couple swamp slayers for the incredible October stoke.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    CO
    Posts
    5,017
    Quote Originally Posted by Rontele View Post

    you think this pattern is a portent of what is to come this winter? (ie., west, southwest mountains getting hammered) and anything along the I-70 corridor and north getting nada? would you consider 'Zuma basin to be on the northside of the Elks, shadowed in a W/SW flow?

    I am always curious to see how fall patterns translate into full blown winter conditions a few months from now.
    Everything is pointing towards a favorable snow year for the San Juans, Sangres and Western Elks. The weak El Nino combined with the SW-W flow has been the dominator so far this season.
    It's also only early October. The winter pattern has not taken shape yet and probably won't for another 3-4 weeks or so. Things could turn around in a hurry. Early season weather is just like pre-season in sports. Know what I'm saying? Very unpredictable. I'm sure we'll have a good idea of what's to come once December rolls around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trackhead View Post
    So how do you think your midwinter snowpack will handle the early season snow?

    Those sunrise pics are amazing. Can you imagine a time lapse on that!

    In places where the snow is deep I think the midwinter snowpack will benefit, however the depth is so sporadic right now I'm worrying that we're going to be dealing with a very touchy and unpredictable snowpack once winter really kicks in. Varying depths and inconsistency within the snowpack are already starting to make things a little tricky. Winds are already beginning to break down the snowpack in many places, especially northern facing slopes. There's definitely a difference in how this year is starting compared to last year (one of the safest and most bomber packs we've had in many years). Last season started off with a very nice base and it just kept building as November and December came. This year we're getting the moisture, but it's much more sporadic and localized. The winds are kicking up much stronger too, whereas most Octobers we get very little wind with storms.

    I don't know. I don't have a crystal ball and don't like to predict. I just like to take it one day at a time and readjust my analysis from there.


    Oh, and yes, that would have been an amazing time lapse.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    North Vancouver/Whistler
    Posts
    12,836
    As a b/c skier - you're killing me! Keep it up/

    I love the text about the decision making process to ski or not ski - w/s on top of facets and relative big recent dumps following cold clear nights - bad. Also could be pwkl on those slopes right? I'm a interior snow jong so comments like that help me get used to seeing slopes with "avvy eyes".

    Very very impressed with pictures from the Olympus/ Makes me seriously consider getting the Olympus with the 2 lens kits

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Flavor Country
    Posts
    2,794

    Thumbs down

    Hey chumps, why don't you give it a rest already! You're gonna turn that shit into a mogul run before the rest of us have chance to head up that way. Fucking noobs.















    On a serious note though, Way to get after it
    "They don't think it be like it is, but it do."

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    CH
    Posts
    1,784
    Nice TR...stoked for the snow to come this way

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    3,991
    Great report D. Looks like you all had some real fun. I agree about what some of the others have said about your analysis & thought process - thanks for combining that with the rest. Especially this time of year when I think many folks don't tend to be thinkin' and looking enough about whats goin' on in the pack.

    Maybe you and members of your crew would care to put a similar/quick summary (or link) of what you're seein' ou ther in the CO snowpack thread in the avy forum for the record.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Eagle, CO
    Posts
    2,260
    Sunrise

    Iskibc is the man for breaking trail up that chute.

    Yeah, Avi season is on for sure
    It would have been hard to ignore the signs of wind affected snow. It was clear the wind loading was significant enough to cause moving snow. Because of this, our main concern was being pulled over cliffs and exposed rock. Communication is so key in the mountains. We communicated very well with each other
    Last edited by Kya; 10-15-2006 at 12:26 PM. Reason: After reading Frank Zappa's post

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    gobble gobble
    Posts
    932
    holy shitcakes those colors are purrrrtty!
    slopstyle crosscarver junior

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Flavor Country
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo View Post
    On a serious note though, Way to get after it
    Thought this was obvious enough. I'll more of these next time
    "They don't think it be like it is, but it do."

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    CO
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    5,017
    Quote Originally Posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo View Post
    Thought this was obvious enough. I'll more of these next time
    Sorry, that's what I figured.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Flavor Country
    Posts
    2,794
    hey no worries. I'm just secretly jealous and annoyed that a variety of factors have conspired to keep from skiing yet this fall. I am hopeful monday will change all that. Keep getting after it.
    "They don't think it be like it is, but it do."

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    219
    Those are some awesome sunrise photos!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Verdi NV
    Posts
    9,404

    Thumbs up

    Thank You

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Columbia, SC
    Posts
    2,889
    those are some awesome sunrise pics.


    goes back to the old adage, Pink in morning sailor take warning, pink at night sailors delight.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    salt lake
    Posts
    786
    Iskibc
    That TR was sick. you guys are killing it! That is the kind of stoke I need.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    gone north, but still on the west side
    Posts
    1,676
    And they don't stop! Way to keep killing it - those have got to be some of the most amazing sunrise shots I've ever seen

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Whistles
    Posts
    1,784




    Thanks for the new desktop photo iskibc! It replaced one of my Crankworks 360 sequence shots.
    Believe.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Eagle River Alaska
    Posts
    10,963
    FUCK YEA!
    Its not that I suck at spelling, its that I just don't care

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