All Results for: Catherine

Western Wallowas Concern

The accompanying video and snowpit tells most of the story. Even though there is close to 7 feet of snow on Mule Peak (one of the highest snowpacks I've seen this winter), it is still shockingly thin around the 5,000' range in the Western Wallowas even with the new snow over the last week. The storms are still favoring more north, especially the Blue Mountains. ...  
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Taylor Skid Marks

My crotch and arms despise the 77 road, so I've been avoiding it all year but I got suckered onto it today and it lived up to expectation. The whoops aren't big because not much snow is there, but it is ice and ruts all the way to the warming shelter. Surprisingly there is snow still on it all the way to the sno-park but just barely, but carbides will hit dirt sporadically for the first mile. Also a shocker is that the sno-park has snow on it, which is contrary to what we reported on the podcast yesterday. I guess this shouldn't be a surprise, since this sno-park never gets plowed so what is there is the entire year's snowpack crushed down by hoards of slednecks. So the good news is that we can break out the fishing poles to fish this pond in a short amount of time...  
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Catherine Crust

I thumbed my nose at the day-late avalanche warning needlessly clogging up the notifications on my phone and charged around the Buck Creek area and up most of Mule Peak. The snow was soft and warm until I got to about 6,000' and then the breakable crust was rampant. Things appeared to stay below freezing above that point most of the day. The creeks weren't blowing out either, which is more evidence things are staying more stable at higher elevation today. I didn't see any signs of instability or recent avalanches up high. The wind was strong but there wasn't any free snow available for transport. This is a complete absence of snow on the southern slopes and anything below 5,000' is very thin in the Catherine Area...  
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China Crap

If you like skiing rocks and trees, Burger Butte is the place to go. Things are shockingly thin up there and most of it is new snow that came around Christmas. Surprisingly, you can't drive down the road past the boy scout camp though, so that means rather even coverage at most elevations. Finally when we got higher up on China Cap we started to see some signs of fatness, but it was still under a meter. To add insult to (ski) injury, the block propagated distinctly on 17 taps, about halfway down to the ground on a layer that was below the latest storm snow. It wasn't on the thin pencil layer we saw in the snowpack either, but on a nearly invisible layer a couple centimeters below that...  
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Big stuff coming

This cycle of snow every week or so hasn't quite built up enough in the high country to ski or snowmobile yet. It keeps getting followed by periods of warmth and sun that is melting it too much. However, more snow is on the way. I was up fairly high in the southwest Wallowas and there are some spots of 2-3 feet of snow hanging around but it is patchy and dirt is showing. Most southern slopes are completely snow free, even in the interior of the Wallowas, like on Eagle Cap. As of now, roads and trails are mostly clear up until about 7,000' but some of the northern aspects are retaining a little snow. The Taylor Green areas was mostly snow free. We're going to be amping up our backcountry snow reports from now on, so keep visiting to see all the updates...  
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Snow Reduction

by Brian Sather — Posted Wed, Oct 18, 2017

Despite mine, and others, beliefs the mountain snow might be here to stay it has been coming off this week. Right now, it looks like a little refresh will come but might be followed again by some mild temps to maybe open up some high trails again next week. I observed the snow up on Burger and it is mostly disappearing. There was a little snow left on the road around Buck Creek Campground but it is mostly all gone now with the warm south wind that has been blowing off and on the last few days. Also, the tamaracks are now on up high!
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Fake Creek Trail #1914 - Wallowa Mountains

Fake Creek Trail is mostly fake. While it exists on a map, in reality it is a concoction of bad practice in trail making. For starters, there is fake footbridge. Then there are many sections of fake trail and real trail which are difficult to discern. Presumably there existed and old moderate incline trail with switchbacks and then people came along and decided to go steeply up the mountain to avoid all the tree fall down across the trail. This brings up the topic of fake maintenance; there are many trees across the trail and in some places trees were cut out but not on the trail. This is really confusing because usually when I lose a trail the first thing I look for are cut logs to guide me back onto an old trail bed...  
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Squaw Creek Trail #1951 - Wallowa Mountains, Union, Oregon

This is an uneventful but awesome trail that shoots straight up Squaw Creek to the China Ridge Trail. The beauty is its simplicity marching through a low use area with direct access into a remote area. The climb is subtle and direct and makes good time getting up to some nice scenery. The trail is in good shape too. You stay in the trees on the west side of the creek until you cross the creek and the visuals open up as you work directly toward the saddle. There are some oddities about this trail though. The access is weird and there is no good parking space at the trailhead, let alone a good spot to turn a trailer around...  
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China Ridge Trail #1906 - Wallowa Mountains, Union, Oregon

China Ridge is a beautiful ridgetop trail with a nice view in all directions on the western side of the Wallowas. Burger and China Cap are the first peaks you get a nice look at, including the north wall of China Cap which is view-able on a good stretch of the trail after China Cap Pass. The trail serves as an excellent connector for a loop with Squaw Creek Trail and Elk Creek Trail or a more ambitious loop to North Fork Catherine Creek Trail. The trail starts off the Elk Creek Trail at a confusing intersection with no signage. The trail surface is in good shape given the limited traffic beyond China Cap Pass. Some use this trail to climb the peak and depart from the trail somewhere around or before the pass...  
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Squaw Basin First Snow 9-21-2017

by Brian Sather — Thu, Sep 21, 2017