Andies Famous Potatoes

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Updated: Saturday, Jan 20, 2018 4:23 PM
Posted: Friday, Jan 12, 2018 3:04 PM
Avalanche Red Flags
Intense precipitation   Rapid temperature rise  
Tesmond Hurd*
Brandon Boucher
Report Type:
Snow Conditions
No Avalanche Activity
Welcome to spring snowmobile season! Today turned out to be rather interesting. Local snotel data indicated there was around a foot of new snow in the Northern Blues, so we had to get out and take advantage while we could...and by we, I mean Brandon and I, since Brian bailed for the coast. We've been watching this storm all week with Fire, Weather & Avalanche Center meteorologist Thomas Schuldt's weather forecast coming in right on the money. Rain was pouring in town until we got to the last corner before Andies Prairie, then there was snow falling and sticking to the road. ODOT hadn't gotten the park cleaned out efficiently, but we just parked anyways and left.

The snow in the first open meadows along the 11-mile loop was phenomenal. Just over 1/3 meter of new snow fell in the last 24 hours, so boondocking and jumping were excellent. Temperatures climbed throughout the day, so the snow quickly became mashed potatoes. Visibility was iffy most of the time, so trying to tell snow definitions was impossible and you didn't find out there was a wall of snow until you were in/on it. Nevertheless, there was lots of snow-covered objects to jump, ending with a soft landing. We were even able to capture some really good stoke on camera. Brandon and I are both repping Go Pro helmet cams.

There were creeks, ponds, and running water everywhere; I almost went for a swim. We ventured out to the big hill climb just passed the 070 & 080 spur intersection, and that was also a blast as far as hill climbing goes. I did a quick snow profile at the top of a hill where the slope angle was about 20-25°. I didn't want to go on a steep slope just in case. I found three distinct layers: new snow, a melt/freeze crust interface from the last several days, and all the rest of the season total snow. My ECT yielded no propagation, and I found the top layer to be heavily saturated with moisture, but lacking cohesiveness; so I assessed the avy danger as minimal (despite yesterday's avalanche warning). The overall height of snow at this particularly location was slightly above 1/2 meter. Given all that, we ripped the hell out of the hill trying to set off an avy with no avail.

We called it quits above noon and came back to find a huge berm of snow since the park had finally been plowed by ODOT, and also two US Forest Service workers sitting in a pickup—the only got out once we arrived and attempted to look busy. They may as well have been on fire watch, because the temperature was 51°F back in town. Just another day in Eastern Oregon.

Backcountry observations provided or vetted by trained avalanche professionals.
The Snow
New Snow
35 cm
Total Snow
100 cm
20° / E

Compression Tests
Test #1: ECTX

Snow Depths
Location #1: Deepest snow — 100 cm (map)
Location #2: ECT site — 55 cm (map)
The Weather
Broken (5/8 - 7/8)
Snow - S1 Light snow
No air motion
Hill jumping
Brandon recovering from a fall
Low visibility
Deep turns
Tesmond prepping for a jump
Where's waldo?

Snow berm with USFS truck for perspective
Morning plow-ish job
Pow shot
Brandon with the new Arctic Cat
A proper sidehill
Redneck galore