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Cave & Tech Team Training near Fish Creek, 1/23/16

The Cave & Tech Team did a winter training near Fish Creek, not far from the Vivian Creek Trailhead parking lot on 1/23/16.  We were working on our winter mountaineering skills, avy skills, snow anchors, and rescue systems as we get ready for the Snow and Ice MRA recert in March.  From the parking lot, we were able to hike on hard-packed snow for a short distance until we passed most of the cabins and residences.  Then we had to switch to snowshoes because of the amount of snow.  At the base of our slope for training, we dug a quick pit to discuss snow conditions.  I didn't thoroughly measure the pit, but some areas were less than 24" deep because a vertical snow picket would hit dirt while seeing the top of the picket if placing the picket in the configuration for a snow anchor.  At the deepest sections, snow was knee deep.  The snow had a high moisture content, and the ambient temp was fairly warm, so that makes sense.  The snowpack was fairly consolidated.  When doing a compression test, we did not get a clean break to lower layer.  It took a fair amount of force to cause failure, and the snow did consolidate more on the top during the test.  When doing a shovel shear test, we did get a break in layer with some effort.  The hardness test revealed the snow to be very soft.  You could build snowballs quite easily.  We got a sprinkling of rain during the training.  We setup and practiced our twin-tension rope system for haul and lower of a litter on snow anchors.  We used a combination of vertical mid-clip picket placements and horizontal picket placements for anchors depending on how thick the snow was in that location.  All and all, a fun and educational day.

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