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South Side Conditions Update
It's June and climbing conditions are getting good. Melt-freeze cycle has been typical for this time of year. Smooth firm snow exists on the upper mountain during morning hours. Proper ice axe and crampon technique are paramount if planning on climbing. We have had many rescues involving slip and falls this season. Know how to properly self-arrest with your ice axe.
We have observed a lot of rock and ice fall on the Avalanche Gulch route lately. Wear a helmet and keep your eyes up slope as you climb. Pay attention to other climbers: rock fall is often caused from climbers resting in melted out areas and accidentally dislodging rocks onto slopes and climbers below. Be careful not to kick rocks down onto others.
The boot pack is well established from Bunny Flat trailhead and it is no longer necessary to carry snowshoes at this time. Climbers have been able to Glissade below the Red Banks during the softer condition in the afternoon. Remember to take OFF your crampons and make sure the snow is soft, remain in control at all times. Once you get up to speed, it can be very hard to stop. Snow surfaces will soften in the afternoon, but daily temps, wind and aspect will all play into that. Concern for loose-wet avalanches will exist on very warm days with prolonged, poor overnight re-freeze. If you find yourself on a sunny slope, post-holing to your knees, rollerballs, pinwheels and/or see other small loose-wet slides... these are all clues that larger avalanches are possible. Snow conditions can change quickly this time of year. Pay attention out there.
Looking up Avalanche Gulch route from ~ 11,400 feet
Looking down Avalanche Gulch from Casaval Ridge ~ 12,000 feet
Looking towards the catwalk on Casaval Ridge ~12,200 feet