Springs Be Spouting

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Updated: Monday, Feb 12, 2018 6:18 PM
Posted: Monday, Feb 12, 2018 5:07 PM
Brian Sather*
Report Type:
Snow Conditions
Tollgate    Blues    Spout Springs   
For some reason all I kept thinking about all morning was apple sauce. The much anticipated Tollgate Store opening (now the Alpine Outpost) was a nice finish to my morning snowbike excursion to survey the damage. The new owners were very impressive coming in clutch with some after-ride tasty apple sauce, clam chowder, and hot coffee since I'm down one tooth and on a liquid diet. I'm really excited about about having something open up there every day, and I'll definitely be frequenting the Outpost.

The warmth and rain last week--or maybe the last month (I've lost track)--torched Spout Springs and the Tollgate Area. The snowpack has reduced by half and once you go over the edge on any canyon it turns to dirt immediately. Everything south facing is gone. This morning a cool 11 degrees F and freezing fog had it all turned into concrete. Disappointing, but still good to be in the backcountry and I was finding some positive tree riding on the snowbike and it is really beautiful up there.

I was at the Happy Lift surveying the shredding tarp that was trying to protect it when I noticed the sound of rushing water. Only then did I realize there is a creek behind the lift and it is flowing strong. As I travelled around in Echo Valley I found all kinds bare earth and springs flowing from the remaining snowpack. The evidence was everywhere of high elevation rain and snowmelt opening up season creeks and run-off. The cold ought to slow down the melt some, but surprisingly all the creeks were still flowing strong today.

Everywhere I go I seem to run into Zeph from the W2 and I found him today skiing a last hooraw. While it was disappointing up there from a snow standpoint, I did encourage him (and myself) that we aren't even halfway through February and often March into April are our biggest snow months in the mountains. Unfortunately our base sucks and nothing exists at mid-elevation.

Backcountry observations provided or vetted by trained avalanche professionals.
The Snow
New Snow
0 cm
Total Snow
75 cm
--° / --

Snow Depths
Location #1: Happy Base — 75 cm (map)
The Weather
Overcast (> 7/8)
Snow - S-1 Very light snow
No air motion
Creek flowing behind the Happy Lift at Spout Springs
North Fork Umatilla River Canyon with dirt showing on all canyon walls.
Freezing fog in the morning.
Crap slopes on Happy.