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lower avy risk 14er in the sawatch?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Re: lower avy risk 14er in the sawatch?

Postby Ramfan24 » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:33 am

Question for those of you more avy savvy than I am. What do you think of the Southeast Ridge route on Columbia from a safety perspective based on recent weather?

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Re: lower avy risk 14er in the sawatch?

Postby I Man » Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:35 am

Ramfan24 wrote:Question for those of you more avy savvy than I am. What do you think of the Southeast Ridge route on Columbia from a safety perspective based on recent weather?


The SE Ridge of Columbia is indeed safe from avalanches. The difficulties of this route are route finding/bushwhacking below treeline and the fact that you are above 13,000ft for 4 miles at the end. Start at the paved TH and follow the CO trail for a bit until you gain the ridge, then follow the ridge all the way up. It is a long day but a fun route and a good way to safely get this peak. A friend and I did this route around this time last year.
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Re: lower avy risk 14er in the sawatch?

Postby jmanner » Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:43 pm

Since this has become the avalanche info thread: What do you guys think of Quandary? Seems like staying on the ridge is low risk, but hard to tell via the: http://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=39.3959,-106.0942&z=15&b=t&n=0.25&o=r&a=slp_s-11111111 awesomeness I have now discovered thanks to you folks!! =D>
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Re: lower avy risk 14er in the sawatch?

Postby Nelson » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:20 pm

From the CAIC:

Backcountry Avalanche Forecast for Sawatch Range today:

Despite varying snowfall amounts across the zone, storm instabilities are widespread and you can trigger avalanches on many slopes approaching 35 degrees today. With up to 26" of storm snow since Saturday and strong westerly and northwesterly winds, wind slabs and storm slabs are growing thicker and more sensitive and potential avalanches are growing in size. Expect to find sensitive wind slabs 2-3' thick on most slopes near and above treeline and in open areas below treeline. Several avalanches were reported near Whitepine in the southwest portion of the zone Tuesday. A large natural avalanche that was 400' wide by 1300' long ran on an east aspect above treeline in Buckhorn Basin.
In wind-protected areas below treeline, storm slabs up to 18" thick formed on a completely faceted snowpack. Avalanches could gouge out the entire snowpack to the ground and entrain a considerable amount of snow where you find faceted snow below freshly formed slabs. Warm temperatures and a rain on snow event below 10,000' created a crust before the storm snow fell on many slopes below treeline and sun-exposed slopes near and above treeline. The new snow came in warm and bonded well to this crust in most areas, but avalanches may be easier to trigger where you find this smooth bed surface below the storm snow. A snowmobiler remotely triggered a 16" deep, 50' x 60' pocket from 65' away that ran on this crust near Whitepine on Tuesday.

They added: Expect avalanche danger to remain elevated for the rest of week.

The Utah forecasters always add "if you don't have good route selection and navigation skills you should probably let it settle down a bit".

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Re: lower avy risk 14er in the sawatch?

Postby Lemmiwinks » Fri Feb 01, 2013 9:55 am

GregMiller wrote:In a general sense, check caltopo.com, turn on the slope shading option, and pick a route that stays off of, and out from underneath, anything shaded.
Note - I am not an avalanche expert, this is just what I would do to avoid avalanche terrain.


I could be wrong, but I think that shading is just for effect. I was looking at Elbert and there are some steeper slopes that aren't shaded and some gradual slopes that are shaded. It almost looks like they're imagining a sun in the NW sky which makes no sense.
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Re: lower avy risk 14er in the sawatch?

Postby madbuck » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:50 am

Lemmiwinks wrote:
GregMiller wrote:In a general sense, check caltopo.com, turn on the slope shading option, and pick a route that stays off of, and out from underneath, anything shaded.
Note - I am not an avalanche expert, this is just what I would do to avoid avalanche terrain.


I could be wrong, but I think that shading is just for effect. I was looking at Elbert and there are some steeper slopes that aren't shaded and some gradual slopes that are shaded. It almost looks like they're imagining a sun in the NW sky which makes no sense.



I think you're referring to a simple "shaded relief topo," which indeed uses a convention of lighting from the top-left.

But the additional utility of CalTopo for avalanche danger that GregMiller is referring to is the "Slope Angle Shading." Playing around with this, you'll see that slopes are indeed coloured by steepness. I think that 36-38 degree slopes are coloured red, but this changes. Anyway, it's a useful tool to combine with current CAIC forecasts, like Nelson mentions. You'll also want to consider things like aspect and treeline. As an example, the South Elbert trail generally follows a ridgeline above steeper slopes, whereas the Black Cloud trail goes right up a steeper slope above treeline.

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Re: lower avy risk 14er in the sawatch?

Postby SchralpTheGnar » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:20 am

at least for me the slope shading feature isnt' working in caltopo.com right now, tested on mac os x 10.7.5 safari and chrome, windows 7 firefox 17

I click slope angle shading and it is the same as "shaded relief" , i see the legend at the bottom for the slope angles but nothing in the image.


Does anyone know if there are any avalanche slopes along the front range?

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Re: lower avy risk 14er in the sawatch?

Postby mtree » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:29 am

This is all GREAT info y'all! I appreciate it. I was thinking of going up this weekend as well, but was wondering about the avy danger. I think I'll strap on my deck and hit Loveland instead! The mountain ain't going anywhere anytime soon.
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Re: lower avy risk 14er in the sawatch?

Postby minnow_30 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:05 pm

I am considering a ski decent on Sherman tomorrow. Does anyone know how this last storm has affected the south face? Also are there any faces that are more prone to Avys?

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