In the last week Red Mountain Pass has been hit by a powerful storm, piling up nearly 60″ of new snow in favored locations. The storm just broke this morning, and the Pass was reopened after being closed for 36 hours, so Chris and I went for a spin to check out the new snow and assess the avalanche conditions. While driving to the pass we saw numerous old crowns on a variety of aspects, many of which appeared to have run during the storm.
The recent low-density snow that fell with little wind has created delightful skiing conditions on Red Mountain Pass. I skied in Commodore Basin this afternoon and found 6″ of new snow on top of a generally supportable base. The underlying snow structure was primarily facets of varying sizes that had little cohesion. This nice combo made for generally stable snow, except for occasional loose snow sluffs in steep terrain.
I went to Silverton yesterday (12/9/10) to do some climbing and see how the ice is forming. As you can see in the pictures below, the classic routes are looking great! Also, the approaches are easy and avalanche danger is minimal due to the limited amount of snow.
In the following video, ice climbing instructor Matt Wade describes the fundamental techniques for climbing steep ice. These techniques are suitable for any type of steep ice climbing, whether you’re ascending a frozen waterfall or an alpine face. If you have any questions, or if you would like to learn more about ice climbing, please contact us.
The folks at Wild Snow recently evaluated common alpine touring bindings to determine their relative stiffness, a quality which is correlated to ski performance. A stiff binding will prevent the feeling of “slop” in a turn, especially when skiing firm surfaces, breakable crust, or chunky crud. If you want to get the most out of your equipment it is probably worthwhile to choose a binding that is relatively stiff, as long as the binding’s other qualities like touring stride, overall weight, and ski crampon compatibility are acceptable. The results of the Wild Snow test are listed below as well as our comments on a few of these bindings we really like.