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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!