Tag Archive | Avalanche

2/15/12 Carnival De EV

EVI note: Info is still coming in from yesterday, so the post has changed some, trying hard to report all objective info, sorry for any confusion and thanks to those helping us clarify the events.

Bluebird powder day in EV. Overnight storm loaded up the zone with a significant amount of snow, variable amounts, knee-deep and above in certain places. BID(Blown in Deep) is the technical term. Headed off the grid for the first run with Luke and stayed clear of the procession headed up to Benchie. A ton of hungry pow hounds were out early and the carnival was on.

Morning in EV

Came back around to the top for our second run to see how the combination of the rapidly warming deep fresh snow and the mass of skiers interacted. They didn’t play well together. West Wall slid, skier triggered from the skier’s right side almost wall to wall , below the first set of small rocks that line the top. Had a friend see it go down. A skier skiing a ribbon of blower powder before a large avalanche followed him down,  a sympathetic release from a small slab the skier  kicked off during his run.  I can’t make this stuff up. New warming snow interface on the crust that happens in the West Wall with the east facing sun hit and warm temps probably was the culprit.  Find out tommorow.
Tracks in left side of Benchmark, but debris running past the first  flats from the gully left of Mushroom Rock. Another sign of skier triggered instability.
Tele Line had tracks but no activity that I could see.
The capper was Old Man’s. Looked over the edge of the entrance to see a track leading into the each of the first two gullies left of the tree line. Below, a significant debris pile ran beneath them into the flats and no obvious tracks out. Shit.
Headed down right ridgeline and found where we could safely enter and do a search of a majority of the lower debris pile. Probably happened first thing in the morning, but wanted to make sure we didn’t leave someone out there before we headed out.  Cleared the debris with Luke and thankfully found no signals. Then we got the hell out of there.
The crown was deepest on the skier’s left side of the second rollover gully by the small cliff, three to four feet of soft slab. It extended into the middle of the bowl. CDC had a small slab release of its’ own under the cliff band.
As far as I know nobody was hurt today, but the potential was there. Here’s what we saw.

Old Man's

Old Man's Crown

Benchie Run

West Wall

West Wall

Submitted Photo Old Man's from a Distance

EVI, Be My Valentine…

What better a day to grab that powder loving guy or gal and take them out to EV to get the love juices flowing?  The overcast to broken skies with S-1 light snowfall and blending from light to calm winds ((L) 1-16 mph) didn’t deter the most discerning of inamorata/inamorato from blazing up the skin track to the top of Benchie and dropping in to profess their passion for the goods with some fine pow turns and  periodic wails of pleasure and ecstasy.  On the “Danger Rose” (oooh that’s sexy) one could profess that the “dangerous love” was at least considerable on the NW-S facing aspects…  Those not blinded by the considerable chance at some likely “rough lovin” could get their moderately risky business done on the W & SW facing slopes.  Tracks abound and no shame (recent debaucherous activity) in sight… the powder lovers were painting their affection all over the big white fluffy canvass with big S-Turns abound.  Only a few dysfunctional examples of tracks seen hitting the top drops off Old Man’s, traversing skier left over the first cliffs in Old’s then directly over to the northern cliffs two-thirds the way down the open +35 degree avg. aspect, the prominent CDC cliff band. Not sure that relationship is really going to last, but one could conjecture that love makes some behave in some very incredibly peculiar ways.

Linked up with Marty, the legendary wing-man himself, to not only get our powder fix of the day, but to also put a cross hair on our beloved snowpack and shoot it straight in the heart.  We sought to identify a deadly problem that has been plaguing some unfortunate riders recently.  We’ve all seen the recent reports of the very gruesome reciprocation that the star-crossed snowpack has taken out on members of the BC riding community.  The trend of doom has been below treeline in some very precarious terrain traps and that is where some more careful examination is due.  From the “hasty” and not so hasty test pits of the season, it’s about lovin time we drop some SWAG on this very problem.  Freshly and stalely outfitted with the latest in snow-nerd standards, we figured it’s about time to throw down and get neck deep in the business.  What is the problem that we are dealing with?  In short, deep persistent weak layers releasing the majority of the top of the snow pack on an interface between the buried depth hoar and the upper “cake” layer of the good stuff.  So let the intricate romance with our naughty snowpack begin…  (this would be way more bad-ass with snowpilot, but whatever).

2/14/2012 @ 2:30pm on Forgotten Trees with an elev. 10,200-10,400 (estimated from topo).

Small clearing in trees on N-facing Aspect below treeline of 30 degrees. 

Sky:  Fluctuating from broken to overcast.  Wind:  Calm to Light.  Temp Air:  -6.5 deg C.  Precip:  Very Light (S-1).

Boot Pen:  Balls Deep, Yeah, that’s what she said…  Type:  Profile Pit.  Temp Surface @ 150cm:  -6.5 deg. C

No Red Flags besides the low-moderate obvious wind loading of leeward aspects.

<150    DF’s    (decomp & frag. precip particles)  1.5mm          F+              -6.5 deg. C       
140    DF’s    (decomposing & frag. precip part.)  1.5mm          F+              -6.0 deg. C
130    DF’s    (decomposing & frag. precip part.)  1.5mm          F                 -6.0 deg. C 
120    FCsf    (near surface faceted particles)      1-2mm          F                -5.5 deg. C
110    FCxr    (Rounding Faceted Particles)         1.0mm          F                 -5.0 deg. C
100    RG’s    (Rounded Grains)                               0.5-1.0mm   F                 -4.5 deg. C
90    RG’s      (Rounded Grains)                               1.0mm          <95cm 4F  -4.0 deg. C 
80    RG’s      (Rounded Grains)                               1.0mm          4F               -3.5 deg. C
70    RG’s      (Rounded Grains)                                1.0mm         4F                -3.0 deg. C
60    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                         3.0mm         <60cm F+   -2.5 deg. C
50    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                          3.0mm          F+                -2.0 deg. C
40    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                          3.0mm          F+                -2.0 deg. C
30    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                          3.0mm          F+                -1.5 deg. C
20    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                          3.0mm          F+                -1.0 deg. C
10    DH        (Depth Hoar)                                          3.0mm          F+                -1.0 deg. C 

0     Ground

Did a very nice ECT (Extended Column Test) 30cm deep X 90cm wide X to 120cm deep from surface, back cut out.

Results yielded:  ECT23Q3(PC)… the whole 150cm down to 60cm collapsed on the interface (if you can remember the December surface hoar produced by endless clear days and cold clear nights) ~60-63cm is where the ECT collapsed but did not shear.  This indicated a collapse and even propagation, but no sudden planar or resistant planar shear @ 30 deg.  So that would put us at ECTP23.    Read from that what you will… in leymans’ that’s a deep persistent weak layer that will propagate distances, collapse and cause instability in the snowpack, hence, most aspects on the CAIC Rose being rated as considerable.  Watch out for higher angle slopes that will cause the upper layer to collapse as well as shear and slide. 

That’s all the snow-geek and SWAGger I got for ya!  hopefully you were suave and savvy enough to get your significant other’s adrenaline and love potion pumping with you’re superior shredability out in EV today.  If you didn’t here’s some snow porn to help you thru tomorrow…   but remember, never trust a hoar, no matter how deep you bury it (Whammy!).

2/12/12 5 Second Rule/ Trip Report

Headed up to see the after effects of a big Saturday.  Like heading into a trashed frat house after the cops come, the area was deserted and littered(with tracks, not Old Style beer cans) .  Fully expecting to see some slide remnants in the bowls, but the reports of a slide in Benchie were just spray.  Forty or so tracks in plain view. Plenty of snow testers exploring all aspects.  Maybe a small fracture on skiers’ left side of Benchie, but nothing real significant and hard to tell as the area was laced with tracks on top of the possible remnants.

Greybird day and temperatures finally cooling off with the incoming front.  No recent movement in Old Man’s, the right side stamped with tracks and a few poking into the first gully skier’s left of shrubbercross alley.

Took full advantage of the stability and headed left middle gully for the first time all year. One might even call it a, gasp, SKI CUT!!! Just kidding, can’t help myself.  The snow was settled and surfy, no movement at all the run. Still some reef in the roll over gullies, but finally getting covered.

Some advice. 5 second rule. If you are going to delve into the middle of any  open areas, you need to be able to ski your line all at once, with speed, without stopping on the cliff bands. Otherwise don’t bother.  CMHing through these areas will get you pounded.

Headed out to the ridge and saw two small(30 ft wide) slab pockets had ripped on the lower skier’s right side of the West Wall. These were small shallow areas with no propagation or run distance (50 ft), an effect of the recent new snow on the sun baked east facing West Wall giving way.

Found good snow in the Forgotten Trees, shaded north facing, it provided good knee-deep pow skiing.  Hit the lower cliff band in the trees and fractured a 20 foot circle of snow.  Just collapsed, didn’t run but stopped me dead in my tracks.  Time to look around and enjoy the solitude of the moment and the light snow starting to fall in the trees.

Found an undisturbed tree pocket next door to my landing to do a quick CT test and snow profile.  38 degrees, north facing, untouched.  Perfect.  Again not too much difference in the snow profile from other recent pits. 10 cms of fresh snow   of  55 cms of slighlty denser old storm snow.  At the bottom the less than fist density 3 mm facets still there to the ground.

105 cms total depth, -3 C air temp, -1C snow surface temp.  CT column results were a little different from a couple of days ago.

CT-2  Q1 at 95 cms.  Old snow/new snow interface, just the top fluff.

CT-17 Q3 at 35 cms.  Again within the 3mm facets, but ragged and uneven.

Only did a single column, so no back up for the results. Just lots and lots of tracks. Lots.

2/9/10-2/10 Chance of Snow

Chance of snow. Finally.  No hundred percent chance of sixteen inches that leaves us like a jilted bride at the altar.  Chance, that’s all we ask here in the Vail valley. My favorite forecast.

Currently snowing here, and Thursday/ Friday provided the best EV skiing of the year, but with different stability indications.  Yesterday, stomping the edge of the yet to be formed cornice of Old Man’s with skis sent the 60-80cm of wind load to the egde of the frying pan with an easy shear, but did not propagate or step down in the rollover gulley past the first flats. (This measurement is rough and only is at the very top of the run at the start of the rollover where the cornice usually forms.)

Friday, at the same place, with  renewed wind load even deeper, around 80 cm, the same test produced no shear and moderate cracking that didn’t fully break. Soft slab blocks stood perched on edge, but refused to drop and run.

Thursday

Skiing was excellent both days, the snow on Friday was thicker and sprayed like spoonfuls of mashed potatoes on each turn as we got into the midddle of the bowl. The snow stayed knee-deep and fresh all the way through. Watched a group of four ski left Benchie with no results. The tracks in West Wall, Tele Line, Benchie produces no slides that I could see.  Didn’t have much movement on my run and only minor sluffing running the right middle concave gully.  The following four tracks had only minor surface pockets moving a very short distance.  The upper part of the pack seems to be stronger than it was a week ago,  Definitely interesting to see the change in 24 hours with the same rudimentary test in the same place.

Super big Saturday with the Teva games in town and the mountaineering race ends up at Benchie.  Will racers and EV skiers be battling for the same skin track?   Much pressure this weekend and hope the seeming increasing stability is for real.

Also, check out this TGR blog if you haven’t already.

http://www.tetongravity.com/blogs/So-Far2011%E2%80%9912-Ski-Season-Marked-By-Avalanches-In-The-West-5761839.htm

2/8/12 Meadow Mountain/ EV Trip Reports

Took advantage of the perfect weather to do a midnight skin up meadow mountain under the full moon on Tuesday with Luke and Paulie and dog.  First group gathering gearing up for the AK world as it is now a countdown in days towards the end of the season. Surreal snow world cast in a  ghostly bone white light, the trees and skin trail glowed brightly under the moon. We worked our way upward through the meadows and aspens while snow machines rallied around us, transferring partygoers from the trailhead to the cabin for a full moon party.

After a couple of hours we arrived at the cabin, drawn into the cabin by firelight and laughter.   We arrived and were greeted warmly by the Mushroom people, speaking in tongues and smiling, They welcomed us to their fire with clicks and whistles and we obliged them. The light from Minturn and Vail were visible and the Gore range rose up in authority, bathed in blacklight.

The ski down was low angle and variable, pockets of stale powder, interrupted by frozen track chatter.  Dog decided that snow machines were more fun and took off on us. Luke got a second lap around midnight back to the top by snow machine and a bonus ski down with the wayward mutt.

Headed out to EV on Wednesday afternoon in rising westerly wind and lowering, thickening grey clouds.   Haven’t been back in some days, so again interested in what has transpired since last week.  Hit the poma and was warned by an older guy passing by on the catwalk about the danger in the West Vail Chutes.

Top of the world and  I saw tracks  beaten in the usual places.  Much of Benchmark is unrecognizable from last year and unskiable due to low snow, so the skier’s left side is hammered.  Right side of West Wall, Tweeners and Tele Line all had tracks.  No recent slide activity that I could see.

First time able to ski left past the initial cliff band and into the right center of Old Man’s. The upper scarp is still rock hard,  Supportive dense wind buffed pow skied o.k and the roll over areas through the two cliff/reef areas held fast.  About a dozen tracks littered the skier’s right side middle of the bowl, while the CDC area remains unskied.  The bottom of Old’s had covered mounds of old debris.

First time cutting over to the MVP area from Old Man’s, wanting to see how the Forgotten Trees were skiing.  Upper turns in the trees were more stale cake but fresh, as most of the other tracks headed straight.  Came upon the first cliff band and side-stepped off a three-foot ledge onto a briefly steep(40 degree) open tree pocket after the rocks.  Sunk to the ground and fractured a small area under the rocks that disintegrated  like sand.

Took the opportunity of standing on terra firma and looking at a small but distinct fracture line to take a look at the snow. Not much change 2-3 m facets less than fist density, topped by slightly denser old and new storm snow.  Any column cut still can’t stand on its own and fractures Q3 within the facets.  No real surprise in stability.  Still around 110 cms.

Ended up skiing 30 ft wide refilled bed surface pockets in the trees to get to the exit.  Traversed out onto thin and crusty east face and onto the track out to the bus. Thin fast and littered with stumps and bushes, it is not fun. Biggest March ever.

Hell Yeah! Old Man’s Revisit 1/24/12

Headed up the Visti sipping a forty and listening to Def Leppard.  Around Visti pole six I shot up, and by the top I was feeling loose. By the time I reached the Top of the World, I was cross-eyed and tingling. Continued down to Old Man’s where I stripped off all my clothes and straight lined the middle, still listening to Def Leppard and screaming “Ski to Die” with a Born to Lose tattoo on my bare chest, just like I did last week.  Passed out in the trees at the bottom.  Woke up an hour later, and started my traverse out.

It must have come to me in a dream, that everywhere in EV was filled with evidence of the large cycle that happened this Sunday. Crowns and debris were everywhere in areas over thirty degrees, N-NE facing in the trees.   Found a good spot on a NE  convex roll over around 9500 feet in a 150 foot wide clearing that had fractured during the  cycle.  A good spot to test in as the hangfire was minimal above, about fifteen feet to the line of trees and bed surface under my feet.

I wanted to check out the snowpack, and then do a couple tests and see if my results were in line with the obvious instability. Also I wanted to see if stability was any better a couple days after the event. I found the spot. It was N-NE facing, the roll over pitching  to 36 degrees at the top of the crown.   I choose to do a full pit profile, then  compression tests and lastly an AK block, a test created in Alaska by Bill Glude.

 You need a graduated probe, two dial snow thermometers(digital suck) a snow saw, inclonometer, a field book and a pencil.  Keeping your pack and gloves on, lay your pole on the snow and use your shovel to make a nice clean wall down 160 cms the length of  the pole in AK here to the ground. Why 160?  Hard to trigger a weak layer over six feet, a full column would take too long in AK in the field.  Put your probe in the side of the pit to use as a measuring stick.

Dig your pit and smooth the face of the area as wide as your pole.   Enough room to not only look at the snow but then be able to cut columns for your test. Profile the snow on the graph in your book, noting hardness, depth of different layers, different crystal types and sizes.  Also note temperature gradients every 10 cms(temperature gradients indicate poor adherence from one layer in the snow pack to the other.  By using two thermometers at once you can expedite the process. You also note time, aspect,  elevation, sky cover, snow and snow surface temp  Looking for obvious weak layers, crusts and density changes. Use your hand brush whatever to feel the layers out and expose them. Mark three shovel indentations gently on top of the snow and cut each shovel mark  with your saw and excava the sides of  the block with your shovel to give yourself room to cut the back of the block with your saw  to isolate the cloumns.

not quite ready to cut into columns gotta clean it up

Cut the back of the block from both sides with your saw and eliminate the  column in the middle. Now you have two isolated columns. Lay your shovel genlty on top of each column and do your CT(compression tests wrist, elbow and shoulder.) tests and check your results.

I dug to 110 cms and hit ground. I got CT-2(compression test with column failure on two wrist taps)on both columns with a Q1(very clean, easy) and Q2 sheer(moderately easy, not as clean) respectively at 60 cms on the old settled storm snow(.5 mm degraded stellars)  interface on the 2mm loose facet layer. That means very not good. If you were guiding, you’d get the hell out of there.

facets of doom

Looking down the crown, I saw this was the layer weak layer on which the slab ran, probably triggered by a traversing skier or maybe naturally during Sundays’ cycle. So far so good. My transient test  results confirmed the still awful stability in the trees.

Next was an AK block, a Reuchblock without the back cut, basically to make it  more representative of a natural slope.  Lay your skis out and dig the block  face to your desired depth, 160 cms again is good or to an obvious weak layer you want to test.  Isolate the sides of the block to a pole length with your shovel/saw.

The idea is to get your skis on, and get on the block. First flex your knees, then  a deep flex then a series of jumps until you get the block to fail.  Then you determine the stability by that number. Indicator of very bad stability.

Cut my block, took my skis than took one boot step uphill next to the block and the convex roll fractured 4 feet above the last crown 75 feet wide and moved about a foot.  Exactly why you keep your Float pack on during a test.  It did surprise me and I ended up hugging a chair sized block but again the slide had  happened here couple days ago and I was standing on bed surface.  I can only imagine what is was like on Sunday in these trees.   The block itself triggered remotely with a Q1(easy clean) shear as well.

If you were doing any of these tests on a uncontrolled slope,  you would have a spotters and/or anchors. Make you own decisions and do your own tests on your own ability level, using your own judgement.  This goes for your skiing as well.  I skied down linking snow-covered debris piles to stay out of trouble.

Bottom line: still crappy stability, but most main areas have run, although lurking pockets of instability im sure are there especially in the trees. Able to ski covered bed surface in all steep areas to avoid possible triggers. Although not like a few days ago, still very suspect in unskied debris free  N-NE areas all elevations but especially down lower.  East facing had crusted up due to the sunhit.

Snowpack: No significant temperature gradients in the pack

Here’s what I saw in my pit.

Ground to Twenty cms:  Four finger 3mm moist loose facets.

Twenty to Sixty cms: Fist 2mm loose facets

Sixty to One hundred cms: Four finger settled old storm snow .5 mm degraded stellars

One hundred cms to one ten cms:  Fist light new snow 2-3 mm stellars

At Sixty cms: The interface between the denser old storm snow and the loose facets was the spot where things have been triggering down lower in the trees.

1/23/12

Sunny after powder day in vail, but not much enjoyment in it after the tragic death of a 13 year old local skier.  Bombs were resonating all day in the Vail area, with slides happening in places I’ve never seen before inbounds, like lower Sugar Mountain.  We went out to check out expected releases in EV after the storm and reported near misses from yesterday and had no expectations of skiing.  Had been two days since I had been back, purposely  taking time off due to dangerous conditions.  Saw evidence of natural and probable skier triggered avalanches, some of them considerable size.  Check out the photos on Luke’s report.

Looked like yesterday was an active one, as slides, cracks and debris were all evident on E-NE slopes, a big one in West Marvin’s. Below treeline had evidence of large cracking and piles of debris indicating stability was terrible down lower in the trees yesterday as well.   Heard a report of a partial burial below treeline yesterday but don’t know the details, I believe CAIC has the report.

Glad no one died in EV over the weekend, really thought it might happen.  Hard to believe inbounds, though.  Not much else to say. Hope to get back to enjoying the pow, but wondering if that is in the cards this season.  Had some good skiing and didn’t see any new activity today, but in light of recent events, it doesn’t matter. Pow skiing should be fun not tragic.

Recent Activity 1/23/12

Went up with no expectations today.   Caution was on high.  Saw the activity under blue-sky’s famous cornice and took notice.

We encountered a couple other riders on the skin up, as well as at the top of Benchie.   We all talked about our observations and our plan of action.  They had mentioned having observed avi activity next to  Tele-Line.  The activity was visible from the top in a couple different areas.  Let them go ahead and waited for a long time for them to make their descent.  They did not set off any new activity.

The initiation was on the downhill side of the cliffs, potential release area for both natural and human triggered slides.  Ranged from 0.2m-0.6m. deep and ran a ways downslope.

Evidence of two slides can be seen here, one during the last storm the other since yesterday.  Also noted, were shooting cracks and obvious instability in the open glades.  Further down to our riders right was a much more significant avi event that ran much farther.

Depth of some of the crown surface was an esimated 0.4m-0.6m.

Did not approach slides due to the presence of hangfire and obvious signs of instability.  Stuck to lower angle pitches and skied amongst tall pines that were possible anchors for the weak snowpack.  Below treeline, more cracking below the traverse through the aspens was observed.

    

Signals were everywhere and careful route planning and good decsion making are a must.  Stay safe!

Friday / Saturday Observation

The trip to EV on Friday was an interesting one. Without a doubt best pow turns of my season, however it was also the most high stake avi danger day as well. Had multiple signs of weak snow pack, wind, numerous whoomfs, cracks, and even triggered a few small slides on both open faces and trees north-through-east. The aspect skiers right of our line had slid rather large and rather disturbingly as it is a line I have skied weekly in past seasons. Martineast recapped the day well here and I only regret not having a camera to take some shots.

In an effort to feed the need Saturday, I went out all geared up for another EV lap, keeping in mind I would most likely be turning back and skiing in-bounds with a fully loaded pack. After some quality lift chair time I reached the top of Sourdough and decided I’d keep my self busy with some beacon training and to check the snow to see if the drop in temperature had improved the snow pack.

After beacon basin, I searched to find areas which represented the terrain I had been skiing yesterday and just as I had expected, the snow was still rotten — super rotten.  Below are pics from a “hasty pit” I dug in a north-east facing tree’d area similar to the terrain and aspect where I had encountered the most activity two days prior.

Looking at the photos, you do not need to be a snow scientist to understand what is causing the high risk conditions in our surrounding area. Keep in mind, this photo was taken on a treed northeastern slope, the same aspect as many tree lines in EV.

The photo above with the shovel clearly illustrates the newly fallen snow on a super consolidated layer created by warm temps and wind supported by an extremely faceted snow layer. After digging and looking at the snow I was convinced to turn around.

With the newly fallen snow Saturday night / Sunday morning, it will be hard to resist heading out for some fresh turns. The already crazy high avalanche danger persists.  This pit shows that even in the trees and in areas we may think are safe, we aren’t.  Stay inside the ropes for now…

1/20/12 Tele Line Revisit

Crazy swings in temperature last few days. 13 below to 40 above in a couple of days with a rain snow mix  yesterday in town. Switched to snow to the valley floor sometime Thursday night and woke to two inches on my deck with warm temperatures again.
Went with my buddy Paulie out to Tele Line where we had skied the last storms’ snow on supportable crust, bypassing anything steep(30+ degrees)and north facing again. The constant weather factor for the last few days has been the jet stream wind, up again and howling on the ridges out of the northwest. Same deal today as the next front intensified around 12:30 and started dumping a heavy wet, Pac-Northwest style snow. Nice storm skin as the only two other travelers were ahead of us and  disappeared into the white out above the poma.
Hitting the point, the winds were calm again as on Wednesday, and the east-facing run was slathered in twenty cms of dense new snow up top. Did a quick hasty pit, similar shallow pack as Wednesday with the new snow supported by the crust underneath. I went first, skiied through the initial rock pillows and ditched it the trees early and waited for Paulie. No activity. Paulie dropped and met me in a cluster of dense old growth.    The upper section skied well and the dense snow was nice supportive powder turns of the year. Bliss.
As we entered the middle section, things changed dramatically. We leapfrogged down to the traverse out, staying next to the ridgeline. Paulie let me know he was triggering whoomphing and propagating cracks in areas that I had skied. The thirty pound differential between us was enough to make the difference and allow him to punch through the saturated crust and trigger failure. We regrouped and went farther into the old stands. Entering lower elevations and into the rain/snow mix layer from the night before, the dense new snow wasn’t adhering to the increasingly saturated melt freeze crust. Bottom line the lower we got, the higher the avalanche danger became. We were able to traverse out in cracking boot top on ground dense snow to the aspens.  If we get the snow predicted on Saturday and the pack on the Benchie traverse out becomes deep enough to slide, the traverse out  could be treatcherous.The aspens down low were extremely sensitive, and shooting cracks and small slab collapses were all over, even worse than the cracking on Wednesday. Again Paulie, being a beast, was triggering areas I didn’t all the way to the bus.
Snow Pack Discussion.
After Paulie triggered the whoomphing and cracking in the middle elevations of Tele Line, we staged at some trees and I crept out and dug a hasty pit. (Yep it’s a bona fide real pit with NO SAW, it actually has a place in the world of snow science.) On the go assessment. A lot going on in the 60cm snowpack. Bottom 20 cms, 3 mm loose facets. Next, a five mm melt-freeze crust, pencil hard. Following this, fifteen cms of smaller loose facets, 2 mm. On top of this, another four to five mm melt-freeze crust again, finger hard, increasingly saturated as elevations lowered. Topping the cake was the 20-25 dense wet snow in the spot I was at, a sheltered spot, east facing around the middle of the line. (the depth of new snow varied drastically in different aspects and elevations. We were on a eastern aspect, with a good view of north east.) All propagating fractures were easily Q1 shears, but didn’t run any distance.
Paulie was collapsing the crust from mid elevations down and the storm snow was running on the collapsed crust on loose facets below. Danger was even higher today, than it has been in the last few days, especially in lower elevations N-E aspects. Didn’t get to test any W aspects at any elevation recently, but I assume similar types of results. We saw evidence of slab releases in NE aspects at 9500 ft and below. Temps have cooled off since the storm moved through and have skies cleared. Hopefully this will lock up some of the moisture and settle things, but this is just spray(a new phrase I learned today).
Concerned about Saturday, weekend crowds and the lure of pow will have intrepid souls venturing back there in very high danger. Hope all goes well, please let us know if you are out and see anything. Be safe. EVI

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