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2011 Utah Ice Conditions thread
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By Brian in SLC
Feb 23, 2012
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch

Take care with the avy hazard. Just below the bottom end of this falls is where the snowboarder that was killed ended up.

IMHO, Mineral Fork is no place to be in high avy hazard. Been a fair number of fatalities in recent years up there.


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By Sam Grenlie
From LCC, Utah
Feb 23, 2012

Agree with Brain here. You HIKED up a very large avalanche path to access those falls. I would be less worried about climbing once you got there.

Not trying to be sassy - just giving a skier's perspective. Just keep in mind where you are, and the likelihood of skiers far above and out of sight.

Anyway, this thread has been pretty great this year. Thanks to everyone for posting.


EDIT: I found this accident I was thinking of earlier. Climbers could walk into a simillar scenario without much avy experience:
utahavalanchecenter.org/accident_mineral_fork_12112004

These guys were higher in the drainage than the base of the falls I suppose, but keep this in mind.


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By Trever W.
Feb 23, 2012
Near Mt. Challenger, Picket range.

I totally agree with both Sam and Brian and am in no way encouraging folks to be jumping on this right now. However, knowing that this thing slid significantly (to the ground) and recently made me a bit more comfortable being underneath it but we certainly did not hang out for long (I don't believe that the looker's right path has cut this season). This was purely recon. I certainly appreciate the voice of reason coming from concerned folks and encourage others to be very calculated in their risks. It has been a rough year in the skiing community. Thanks.


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By Brian in SLC
Feb 23, 2012
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch

Trever W. wrote:
However, knowing that this thing slid significantly (to the ground) and recently made me a bit more comfortable being underneath it but we certainly did not hang out for long


Hmm.

Persistant weak layer and shallow snowpack this season has been deadly.

I'd probably be just as uncomfortable under that slope (and maybe more so). Classic set up for a "repeater".

Edit to add:

utahavalanchecenter.org/accident_west_couloir_1282012

You can clearly see the location of the ice climb and the approach in the photo's from the UAC report.


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By Trever W.
Feb 24, 2012
Near Mt. Challenger, Picket range.

Brian, I understand your concern. I really do. Just last month, I lost a very close friend of mine in an avalanche so I am certainly aware of the consequences of operating in that type of terrain. We have lost far too many in the Wasatch (another yesterday in Dutch Draw) and in the West, so I understand why people are hyper-focused on avalanche danger and I don’t think that is a necessarily bad thing. However, I do believe that playing armchair quarterback without the full context is something that we as a community should avoid. There have been 13 driving deaths in Utah this year, yet you and I continue to drive in similar or worse conditions almost on a daily basis. These are the calculated decisions that we make everyday in climbing and life.

On the day that I spent 15 minutes underneath mineral fork falls, the avalanche danger for the slopes above us was forecast as moderate (this was before our recent wind events) not the considerable that was forecast for the day of the Kessler accident. Granted, moderate is nothing to ignore but it is also something that should not paralyze us from making calculated decisions. There was also considerably less loading given that an average of three feet had slid less than a month ago, taking with it much of that persistent weak layer that you referred to. The likelihood of anyone jumping around on the slopes above us was also probably pretty low during that short amount of time. All of these things factored in to our decision. So I don’t really buy the “classic repeater” argument. This was a very different situation with very different outcomes from the one on January 28th.

There is nothing black and white about risk. We all place ourselves along a continuum depending on our comfort levels and what we personally deem acceptable. Perhaps I am a bit further along that continuum than you, while guys like Dean Potter and Alex Honnold are further along still. Does it mean that those guys have poor judgment or are in someway less of a person? Of course not. I respect your decision to not put yourself in that position and in fact, no one will ever criticize you for taking the conservative choice. I realize that it is much easier to simply quote the avy center rather than critically taking into account numerous factors that contribute to a situation, but it is when we stop making decisions based on all of the resources that are available to us that we get into trouble.

Anyway, this is an ice conditions thread so I will turn it back over. Thank you for allowing me my rant and I appreciate your time and concern.


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By Brian in SLC
Feb 24, 2012
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch

Trever W. wrote:
However, I do believe that playing armchair quarterback without the full context is something that we as a community should avoid... These are the calculated decisions that we make everyday in climbing and life...Granted, moderate is nothing to ignore but it is also something that should not paralyze us from making calculated decisions.


Glad you made a calculated decision. I appreciate the dialog and your willingness to discuss, as well as the report on conditions.

I'd like to think I'm more than just a casual, armchair observer. I ski about every week, have for the last 27 years in the central Wasatch. And, I continue to see folks who ought to know better toss caution and their lives into the wind. It's frustrating.

Mineral Fork is a scary place, especially in this type of snow year. I guess I just don't either have the skill, the data, the ability to gather enough and the type of information to make me think some of these areas are going to be "safe enough" this season, and, as such, I take a bit more caution with this type of terrain.

I think recent conditions have changed, and, I'd caution folks to take care in this type of terrain today and this weekend.

Take care and have fun!


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By Nathan Smith
From Salt Lake City
Feb 24, 2012

Somebody left a glove at the parking area for The Least Complicated. Describe it and it's yours.


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By Matt Selman
From Spring City, Utah
Feb 24, 2012

Just so everyone knows, Maple is still two thumbs down for ice. Not a lot has changed since Darren was up there. Not a single route on the main road or in the Left Hand Fork has formed to a reliable thickness. Also, Salt Lake folk, how is the Great White Crowdsicle holding up? I'd like to do that at least once this season...


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By Patrick Fink
Feb 24, 2012

Anyone have more current conditions for the Great White Icicle in LCC after the recent warm conditions?


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By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 24, 2012
Cleaning up in Jenny Lake.

Patrick Fink wrote:
Anyone have more current conditions for the Great White Icicle in LCC after the recent warm conditions?

Got back from it a few minutes ago. Soloed up the first two pitches, they're super stepped out. The rest of it is in, a little bit moist in places but highly climbable. Don't forget a 70M rope, it will make your life a lot easier.


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By Sam Grenlie
From LCC, Utah
Feb 24, 2012

Trever W. wrote:
A whole bunch of stuff.


Not trying to armchair QB anything, since I'm pretty much an idiot. My post did read that way though - I'm sorry about that.

I was just trying to point out the location of the falls to other folks who may be reading this and looking for higher altitude ice - especially with the storm that rolled in and spike in avy activity yesterday. Thanks for posting photos in the tread! I've enjoyed 'em.


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By Allen Sanderson
From Oootah
Feb 25, 2012

FWIW, the Angle went on a bender and is lying in the road. The Squashed head blew chunks with the vomitus making it to the road as well.


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By Alec
Feb 26, 2012
Stairway to Heaven, pitch three, Provo Canyon, UT

Anybody take a peek at Frozen Assets lately? 'Tis the season.


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By Eli Harry
Feb 28, 2012
Bad Bannana's

Hey all... We lost a 13cm turbo and draw on pitch 1 of Stairway. The draw and screw should be somewhere between the base of the Apron and the boulder with belay chains.

It'd be worth a six pack to me and probably a 12 pack to my buddy if you manage to find it and return it!

Thanks,
Eli

Have you seen Me???
Have you seen Me???


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By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 1, 2012
Cleaning up in Jenny Lake.

Went down to Santaquin today. Hiked up to the unnamed climb on the north side of the canyon opposite ACT but it was too thin and baked out.

Squashed Head is in pretty decent shape. The second pitch is a little thin in spots but it was fun.

Runoff looks like it's in very nicely but I didn't get a close look at it.

Angel of Fear is mostly in the road with just a couple drips hanging on.

Candlestick is large, but the top looks rotten, brown and kind of detached.

Climbed the first pitch of ACT on the left side which was a lot of fun (and challenging). It currently looks like:

Automatic Control Theory
Automatic Control Theory


Got real drippy in the late afternoon.


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By Christian "crisco" Burrell
From PG, Utah
Mar 1, 2012
Our less than official sponsor!

Alec wrote:
Anybody take a peek at Frozen Assets lately? 'Tis the season.


Drove past on the 15 the other day and tried hard to see it. I saw snow but didn't see ice. Might just be an avalanche chute right now. But honestly, you never really know until you hike in.


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By pkmiller
From Golden, CO
Mar 2, 2012

Does anyone have an update for conditions in Provo Canyon - particularly Miller's Thriller and Finger of Fate?


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By Brian in SLC
Mar 2, 2012
Climbing in Smuggler's Notch

pkmiller wrote:
Does anyone have an update for conditions in Provo Canyon - particularly Miller's Thriller and Finger of Fate?


Here ya go: "An Avalanche Warning continues in effect for the mountains of northern and central Utah. Continued snow and wind will keep avalanche conditions Considerable to High."

Rapid warming on Sunday will not bode well either.


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By Sunny-D
From SLC, Utah
Mar 2, 2012
Top of Jah-Man Sister Superior

The ice is still holding in Provo. Joes is good and Santiquin has some nice big ice. Even the Great White Icicle is holding on. If you need a partner for the area let me know.
Dallen


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By pkmiller
From Golden, CO
Mar 2, 2012

Thanks guys. I have climbed a little in the area but not enough to know which routes would have avy danger and which would be relatively safer. Planning on climbing Sunday with the girlfriend, any recommendations? Been up GWI before - but would certainly do it again...


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By Sunny-D
From SLC, Utah
Mar 2, 2012
Top of Jah-Man Sister Superior

I was out today. Millers is good Finger of Fate is good. The fang looks good didn't get on that one. Upper falls has great access and is good. Liz's Undoing is good and easy to get to right now. Little Ouray (the pillars[icemate, playmate]). Is really good. UDOT did a ton of avalanche work in Provo canyon on Thursday of this week. Liz's undoing has very little hazard above it. It Little Ouray would be pretty good to.


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By Eli Harry
Mar 4, 2012
Bad Bannana's

Found a JetBoil at the foot of the Apron on Stairway tonight. Describe it and it's all yours!


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By Trever W.
Mar 5, 2012
Near Mt. Challenger, Picket range.

From today's Wasatch avalanche forcast:

"the gullies above the ice climbing routes in the range are suspect with today’s heating. Put the tools away until it cools off later this week."

Everyone be careful out there and intentional with your decisions.


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By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 6, 2012
Cleaning up in Jenny Lake.

Not a surprise at all but Stairway to Heaven is a complete mess. Went out and did some laps on it but it's a drippy disaster. If it cools off again it'll be fine but at the moment it's pretty disgusting. Extremely sketchy to be on it for anything except top roping. Anything on the north side of Provo Canyon is almost nonexistent.


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By zoso
Mar 6, 2012
avatar

Well, duh.


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