AIARE 1 Avalanche Course, 2/22/13 – 2/24/13

Conditions over the last few days were perfect for another AIARE 1 Avalanche Course. Over a foot of new snow had fallen over the week and on Friday we gathered at the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch to begin the 3-Day course. After a morning indoor session we headed outside and practiced companion rescue with burials at a realistic depth of 1.2 meters.

On Saturday we headed over to the west side of Mount Washington to ascend the ridge between Burt and Ammonoosuc Ravine alongside the Cog Railway.

The Cog ascends the ridge between Burt and Ammonoosuc Ravine

From Marshfield Station The Cog ascends the ridge between Burt and Ammonoosuc Ravine

Starting our ascent with Marshfield Base Station behind us

Starting our ascent with Marshfield Base Station behind us

Continuing up after a quick break and weather observation at Waumbek Tank

Continuing up after a quick break and weather observation at Waumbek Tank

Nick, one of the students, starts to "ski cut" the slope just off the tracks. We did get some small shooting cracks and positive results in a few spots in the new storm snow.

Nick, one of the students, starts to “ski cut” the slope just off the tracks. We did get some small shooting cracks and positive results in a few spots in the new storm snow.

Jacob's Ladder, 4,750 feet in elevation

Jacob’s Ladder, 4,725 feet in elevation

Digging in the snow on the northwest aspects here revealed fairly uniform pencil hard slab with a lack of buried weak layers. Just on the southwest side of the ridge I was able to get very positive ski cuts along with observing some small cornices.

Looking into Ammonoosuc Ravine

Looking into Ammonoosuc Ravine

We thought we saw a small recent avalanche down in Ammonoosuc but it was hard to confirm from our position up on the ridge. I definitely need to add a small pair of binoculars to my kit! The weather turned pretty quickly and by 3:15 we were de-skinning and getting ready to drop a fairly sweet powder run back to the trail-head.

On Sunday we met at the very busy Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. With a forecast of “Considerable” avalanche danger and a complicated bulletin the group worked together on a trip plan for the day.

Morning Trip Planning Session

Morning Trip Planning Session

Enroute to Hermit Lake we made a quick stop to check out the snow study plot. 1.3 meters of snow on the ground, with more accumulating through-out the day on the 24 hour and storm snow boards. 5-6% density snow = fluffy greatness!

Hermit Lake Snow Study Plot

Hermit Lake Snow Study Plot

When we reached Hermit Lake USFS Snow Ranger Jeff Lane chatted with the class regarding their mission up there and the local variability that effects their forecasting operation.

Chatting with USFS Snow Ranger, Jeff Lane

Chatting with USFS Snow Ranger, Jeff Lane

After updating our weather observations and reviewing our route options from the morning the group selected Hillman’s Highway as an area we could tour through in order to complete our course goals.

Before entering into the area effected by the large D4 avalanche a few years ago we discussed how best to use the terrain to stay protected.

Where should we go?

Where should we go? Photo by Mike Lackman

After traversing some ground and learning the value of a solid uphill kick turn we dropped back down below the dog-leg of Hillman’s and made some snowpack observations on a small slope, concluding our observations with an entertaining Rutschblock Test.

Esoteric info: RB 4, MB, 35cm down on older storm snow

Esoteric info: 33 degree slope on East aspect @ 3,950ft, RB 4, MB, 35cm down on older storm snow

I actually got to use “esoteric rhetoric” in a sentence when describing how we might try to interpret our results and that word combination still gives me a chuckle for some reason.

My tour notes from the day:

022

5 more courses and that will be it for the 2012/2013 avalanche course season. We only have 1 spot left in this upcoming weekend’s course so if you are interested call and book it today! 800-310-4504.

You can see the other dates we have scheduled here. All 5 courses are close to full so don’t delay if you were hoping to get this course in this winter!

See you on the mountain!

About David Lottmann

David grew up skiing in the Whites and started climbing at a summer camp just north of Mt. Washington when he was 16. Those first couple of years solidified climbing as a lifetime passion. From 1996-2000 he served in the USMC, and spent the better part of those years traveling the globe (18 countries). After returning to civilian life he moved to North Conway to focus on climbing and was hired in 2004 as a Rock and Ice Instructor. Since then Dave has taken numerous AMGA courses, most recently attaining a Single Pitch Instructor. He has completed a Level 3 AIARE avalanche course, is a Level 2 Course Leader, holds a valid Wilderness First Responder and is a member of Mountain Rescue Service. When David isn't out guiding he enjoys mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, backcountry skiing, trying to cook something new once a week and sampling new micro-brews. He lives in Conway, NH with his wife Michelle, son Alex, and daughter Madalena.
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3 Responses to AIARE 1 Avalanche Course, 2/22/13 – 2/24/13

  1. janet lottmann says:

    Great post Dave. Looks like everyone learned a lot. Glad that the snow co-operated for you. love you Mom

    Like

  2. Ian Hobler says:

    Dave: Another (if belated) thanks to you and Mike for the great course 22-24 February (and the toboggans). In planning my summer trips in the backcountry, I’m still using parts of the DMF even there won’t be any snow. All the best.

    Like

    • David Lottmann says:

      My pleasure Ian! I know I subconsciously use the DMF on every trip I go on whether deep in the back-country in winter or a short 3 mile hike with my toddler son. I’m glad you are finding it useful! See you on the mountain!

      Like

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