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rylanolin
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rylanolin
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PostSat Mar 24, 2018 2:26 pm 
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Not sure if this is allowed on here, but I'm an avid hiker from Canada coming to explore Washington state at the end of April, beginning of May. I have no idea what conditions will be like in the North Cascades and Alpine Lakes areas, so I thought I'd ask on here. I have snowshoes, spikes, and all that jazz to adequately winter hike, but I do not have avalanche training. I'm wondering if there are any seasonal closures (other than North Cascades Highway) or other things I need to worry about when trying to hike in there areas at this time. I've tried googling, but with no clear cut answers. Alternatively, if anyone would be willing to inbox me personally to give a better account that would be awesome.

I understand every year is different and conditions are unpredictable, I just want a general overview of what my options are to see the most of this beautiful state! Thank you!
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MangyMarmot
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PostSat Mar 24, 2018 3:08 pm 
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In April most of the high country around here is still under snow. Snowshoes will be useful unless you stay low. If you have a particular hike or area in mind, look at trip reports on this site to get an idea of what it was like in April in previous years. Microspikes work great on packed down trails. Check nwac.us for avalanche conditions.
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christensent
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PostSat Mar 24, 2018 4:22 pm 
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Usually, by late April and early May, the snow pack has greatly stabilized and avalanche concerns are starting to diminish but new avalanche hazards are starting to form. Of course, this is not always the case, and often there will be a few weeks sometime in the spring where there are some particularly sketchy things going on (especially the first very-hot weekends). The hazards tend to shift from storm slab and buried weak layers to loose wet avalanches during the initial heat cycles which can be massive and some of the most dangerous avalanches to be caught in.

At a minimum, do check on forecasts, and if you're not knowledgeable you should try to avoid regions that are quite exposed to avalanche risks.


Regarding roads, the North Cascades highway is I believe the only major mountain pass closed in the state during winter. There are a huge number of roads that are not plowed though and are effectively closed to a typical street vehicle even though you won't find official closure reports (especially forest roads, almost no forest roads are plowed in Washington). The forest service keeps relatively updated information for most road statuses on their website, although they're often weeks out of date. Lower elevation roads will be opening up by May but many higher elevation roads will still be under many feet of snow.

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Learning mountaineering: 10% technical knowledge, 90% learning how to eat
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Just_Some_Hiker
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PostSat Mar 24, 2018 5:24 pm 
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April and May are usually the months to be very concerned about wet slides. Particularly on hot, sunny days.
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Bootpathguy
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PostSat Mar 24, 2018 7:19 pm 
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For me, early May is the earliest I've ever chosen to do any high alpine backcountry adventuring and it's always been on the east slopes of the Cascades. It typically warms up over there first

And always after at least 1 week of very warm weather. It results in a massive snow consolidation and helps eliminate hazards ( hurrys up ) cornice release.

Never, not had to, negotiate a recent slide. That's always good news to me when I have to do that. If I don't see recent slide activity after a 1 week warm trend, I turn around.

Never know if I'll need snowshoes, crampons, micro-spikes etc. I usually carry all. Makes for a bulky pack. Sometimes I need at least 2 of the 3 and sometimes I found I needed none of that equipment. Hiking poles with snow baskets are a blessings. Always carry my ax.

Anyway, for me, I'd consider limiting your search on the east slopes. But, as mentioned, pay close attention to the weather prior to your trip wherever you choose to go.

Lots of adventuring off the Icicle River Road or the Chiwaukum. Teanaways

Some may disagree

Here is a report that mentions some of what I said above

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8024255

Check out the last few photos of a remaining crown from a avalanche and those ( still remaining ) massive overhanging cornices

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Experience is what'cha get, when you get what'cha don't want
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Schroder
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PostSun Mar 25, 2018 12:10 pm 
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IMO May and Sept-Oct are the best times of the year to be in the hills.  You have a generally firm snow pack by May that makes cross country travel a lot easier than late in the year.

They're starting to plow the North Cascades highway from the west on Monday and will start from the east on April 6.  Usually 4-6 weeks to complete.
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Malachai Constant
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PostSun Mar 25, 2018 4:15 pm 
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Spring is a terrible time to hike in washington thin layers of snow over immense crevices, hunger maddened bears looking for prey, climax avalanches, and you will be all alone with nobody to rescue you. Best stay home wink.gif

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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FungiFan
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PostTue Mar 27, 2018 5:29 am 
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Back up plans if the snow is not cooperating would be lower river valley hikes in the Ho, Elwha, Dosewallips etc or the beach hikes on the coast in Olympic National Park. Be prepared for rain and mud...

FF

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gb
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gb
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PostTue Mar 27, 2018 7:47 am 
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By this time of year there will not be any avalanche forecasts so you kind of have to be your own avalanche watcher. It is very important to follow the weather for the preceding two three weeks so that you know if there has been appreciable new snow and roughly at what elevation. Then as your trip draws near watch temperatures - if it is warm and warming avalanche considerations can be considerable whereas if it is cool and cooling there will be less avalanche hazard provided you are not dealing with new snow. Generally things begin to consolidate above 4500-5000' later than this, more like latter May.

Late April early May is generally better still for lowland hikes and for desert hikes. Sometimes in cool, nice weather the east sides of the Cascades where there is less springtime new snow can have good conditions. Occasionally good corn skiing can be found there at this time of year. But the freezing level is key. The Cascades and Olympics are not that high and fair weather freezing levels are more often than not considerably higher than the highest peaks save the volcanoes. With high freezing levels snow conditions are not likely to be good above low to moderate elevations.
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DIYSteve
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DIYSteve
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PostTue Mar 27, 2018 11:25 am 
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OP, what part of Canada are you coming from?

There's no simple answer re when various parts of the Cascades open up to hiking (or for spring/summer corn ski touring, for that matter). WA Cascades mountain travelers learn about the patterns per year after year hiking, and to some extent timing consolidation and subsequent meltout are guesswork for even the most experienced travelers. Learning about the patterns is part of the fun. My best advice is to get out there in safe areas and experience it for yourself. A half day of wallowing in unconsolidated bottomless mush is not much fun, but that's how you'll learn.

It's gonna be bottomless unconsolidated mush season for awhile in most of the WA Cascades. Another way to say it: We are currently on track for consolidation to start mid-May, which is typical. Timing of the spring consolidation is very much dependent on weather. 2-3 weeks of sunny warm weather could accelerate the change.
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rylanolin
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rylanolin
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PostThu Mar 29, 2018 2:27 pm 
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I'm coming in from the Calgary area and I hike in the Rockies a lot year round. I don't need fancy mountain tops to curb my appetite, I'm fine doing easier valley or lake hikes as long as the views give me a taste of what the cascades have to offer and I'm in relatively low avalanche danger. Will keep an eye on the reports and just use common sense when I'm looking for safe hikes!
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Grannyhiker
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PostThu Mar 29, 2018 3:22 pm 
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Look at the Trip Reports section for late April-early May last year.  (Do note that last year was an extra-high snow year.)

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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey
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iron
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iron
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PostFri Mar 30, 2018 12:07 pm 
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hikes:
ross lake
chelan lakeshore
suiattle river
north fork sauk (maybe - some slide paths)
baker lake

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man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

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Pyrites
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PostFri Mar 30, 2018 10:23 pm 
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E Fk Quinault is often open up to Enchanted Valley. Snow is often right about there. It might be a couple weeks late to watch the avalanches off hanging valleys across the valley.


See also wta.org

Best.

ps

Chinook Pass east of Mount Rainier will still be closed.
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Grannyhiker
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Grannyhiker
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PostSat Mar 31, 2018 1:16 pm 
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Perhaps too far afield for the OP, but that's a great time for Hells Canyon in eastern Oregon.

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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey
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