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Friends of NWAC Update
February 2009 
Dear Friend of NWAC,
What happened to winter?  A month ago I wrote here about the massive amounts of snow that fell in December and created some horrendous avalanche conditions.  Since then, half the state has flooded, and then it stopped precipitating altogether.  What gives?  Well...have hope.  The word from the forecasters at NWAC is that a weakly developing La Nina should bring an increased chance of slightly above average precipitaton and colder than normal temps to the Northwest for the remainder of the winter.  At least this is the word from longer range forecasting gurus at the Climate Prediction Center.  No promises, but our fingers are crossed.
Regardless, please don't get overconfident about the avalanche conditions.  The cold early season temps and intermittent warm and cold weather has created some nasty layers that are still lingering in the snowpack.  I urge you to check out an interesting thread on Turns-All-Year that discusses the current situation.  With additional loading, these layers could get active.
Pit Science
Backcountry Magazine logoIf you attended the Second Annual Northwest Snow and Avalanche Summit in November, you heard a great presentation on the latest in snowpit research by Don Sharaf of Teton Avalanche Consulting.  He compared the variety of snowpit tests and discussed two relatively new ones that are receiving quite a bit of attention in the world of avalanche forecasting: the extended column test and the propagation saw test.  
We did a little digging and found some good sources of info that are worth checking out.  Here you go...
The Extended Column Test: Video and Tutorial
The Propagation Saw Test: Article
Both: Summary
Avy Talk in Olympia
Capitol Building
We are staying busy in Olympia!  The State Legislature convened in early January and is trying to balance the need for all kinds of programs with a shrinking budget.  Washington State Parks submitted their final report on NWAC at the beginning of the session.  It contains several recommendations of note, but perhaps the most significant is a recommendation that would enable all of us to support NWAC when we purchase our SnowPark Pass or snowmobile license.
Senate Bill 5596 would place a $2 surcharge on all license and permit purchases.  This could really help NWAC out, as it could potentially fill a looming budget deficit of over $100,000.  We'll keep you posted as things develop and might come asking for e-mails of support.  Stay tuned.
If you are interested in the entire report from Washington State Parks, it is online here.
Upcoming Avy Classes
Powder skier
Lots of opportunities to improve your avalanche knowledge in the coming months.  Take your pick from the following classes...
February 13-15 -Level 1 Avalanche Class, by Mountain Madness in Seattle area.

February 13-16 - Level 2 Avalanche Class, by Mountain Savvy at Mt. Hood, OR.

February 14-16 - AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Class, by 3 Sisters Backcountry in Oregon.
February 14-16 - AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Class, by Northwest Mountain School, in Leavenworth, WA.
February 21-22 - Level 1 Avalanche Class, by Mountain Savvy at Mt. Hood, OR.
February 27-March 2  - Level 2 Avalanche Class, by Mountain Madness in Leavenworth, WA.
February 28-March 1 - Level 1 Avalanche Class, by Mountain Savvy at Mt. Hood, OR.
March 4-8 - Level 1 Avalanche class, in Bellingham at WWU, put on by the Alpine Safety Awareness Program. Weds., Thursday, Friday evenings 7-10pm, all day Saturday & Sunday at Mt. Baker ski area. (call 360-319-2421 for details)
March 6-8 - Level 1 Avalanche Class, by Mountain Madness in Stevens Pass area at Cascade Powder Cats.
March 13-15  - AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Class, by 3 Sisters Backcountry in Oregon.
March 14-15 - Level 1 Avalanche Class, by Mountain Savvy at Mt. Hood, OR.
March 14-15, & Mar. 21 - Level 1 Avalanche Class, by Mountain Madness in Seattle area.
In addition to the above, FOAC is collaborating with the Alpine Safety Awareness Program on the Know the Snow Avalanche Awareness Initiative.  The Initiative offers free avalanche awareness classes to individuals and groups that recreate in the mountains in winter.  Participants include skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and snowshoers. If you are interested in organizing a class for your group, please drop us a line at [email protected].

VertFest 2009
VertFestThe third annual Outdoor Research VertFests are coming up!  VertFest is a celebration of human powered adventure in the Cascades. A chance to gather with our community of like-minded adventurers who love a challenge and an opportunity to spend the day on the snow together. It's about getting some vertical under our hard working legs, feeling the pull of gravity, and celebrating the culture of backcountry adventure.  Whatever you choose to strap your feet to, whatever your pace, VertFest is a great excuse to have fun.
For three years, Outdoor Research has been hosting VertFest as a fundraiser for the Friends of NWAC.  For 2009 there will again be two awesome events in the series; the first at Crystal Mountain on Saturday, February 28 and the second at Alpental on Saturday, March 28. VertFest will surely be the highest profile backcountry celebration in the Pacific Northwest. If you love to ascend and descend the mountains by human power and like to follow up the day with good beer, VertFest is for you!
SnowBall invitationHave you bought your ticket to SnowBall yet?   Planning is moving fast and we have a lot of support from friends and companies contributing a whole slew of auction items.  We hope you will join us on Friday, April 10 at 6pm at the Ballard Elks Club on the water at Shilshole in Seattle for a fun evening of shared stories and good food.

With a potential $100,000 budget shortfall, NWAC needs your support now more than ever.  

Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets.  If you have been contacted by a table sponsor, please let us know with a note to [email protected], or purchase your ticket directly from that sponsor.  Seating is limited - buy your ticket now so you don't miss out.

Got a friend who would like to receive updates on NWAC?  Help us get the word out by forwarding this e-mail below.
Pray for Snow 
The Friends of NWAC

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Up-coming events

February 17  - Films: "A Fine Line" and "Down Days" at Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat, Leavenworth WA. 6-9pm. Call 206-812-4510 ext. 4355 or 509-393-4195 for details.  
February 28 - Crystal VertFest
March 28 - Alpental VertFest
April 10 - Snowball
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