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Trip Report    

Skyline Ridge

Trip report for Seattle Snowshoe Backcountry Snowshoe Field Trip on Saturday, Feb 6 with 34 participants including 23 students and 11 instructors.

Avy forecast for day of trip was Moderate though had been Considerable the previous day. Most of the field trip route is not in avy terrain but a small open portion of it is. A group of three instructors was sent ahead to asses the open portion. The instructors dug a pit at approx 4450’ and concluded that the area was safe. This information was radioed to all instructors, who then proceeded with their usual instruction scenarios.

The area had received about 4” - 6” of new snow over the past 24 hours, which made for visually pleasant conditions and which required a small amount of not-overly-strenuous trail breaking: good conditions for teaching most of the material. Four ice axe runs were made in the usual open area at elevation 4400’ - 4700’. Conditions were not great for sliding but instructors were able to craft runs that were adequate for demonstrating and practicing all the self arrest scenarios.

Most instructional groups reached Skyline Lake, the high point of the day’s route, by about 1pm, by which time winds had long since died down and conditions were good for instructing the Avy Beacon scenarios. There was adequate diggable snow depth for burying and recovering the simulated victim without having to deal with any ice layers, etc. We ran into some scheduling problems among the various instructional groups at this point, which caused us to finish the Beacon scenarios about an hour later than planned.

Everyone was back down to the trailhead at approximately 3:30pm, about a half hour later than our original target time of 3pm.

Two points of interest to other groups instructing in this area:

1. We experienced some confusion with the Stevens Pass Ski Area parking staff about where we were to park for the field trip. Some of the staff were OK with us parking in the usual area near the trailhead but later the parking manager came over and told us all we had to move. After some discussion we were allowed to stay parked at the TH, but future parties may want to invest some time in clarifying this understanding with the parking staff.

2. During the first of our Avy Beacon rescue scenarios an unrelated party of skiers thought our simulated accident was real and rushed to respond, shovels and probes in hand. They were not amused to discover it was all pretend. We should avoid shouting “Avalanche! Avalanche! Help! Help!” in areas where there are unrelated parties within earshot.