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ADVANCED OBSERVATION FORM
 Start Date: 01.23.18
 Drainage/Route:  Butterfield Observed Terrain:  Elev: 9400 ft, Aspect: NE, Terrain: open trees, Slope angle: 27 degrees Zone/Region:  Smoky & Boulder Mountains
WEATHER OBSERVATIONS
 HN24: HST: Sky: CLR Precip: Temps:
 Ridgeline Wind:
 Blowing Snow: None Snow Available for Transport:
 Comments: Bluebird and cold
AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS
None Reported
 Comments: No recent avalanches observed.
SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS
 HS: 135cm 
 Upper Pack: Dry, light powder. 135-110cm = F. 110-85cm = 4F. 85-55cm = 1F 
 Middle Pack: Consolidated old snow with old, decomposing crusts. 55-50cm = P(decomposing rain crust). 50-45cm = 1F. 45-43cm = P (decomposing rain crust). 
 Lower Pack: Sugary facets with some consolidation and bonding. 43-30cm = 1F. 30-0cm = 4F. 
AVALANCHE PROBLEM ASSESSMENT
Avalanche Characteristics
Character/Avalanche Problem:
Persistent Slab

Layer/Depth:
Unknown

Likelihood of Triggering
Sensitivity:
Unreactive

Spatial Distribution:
Widespread
Where did you find this problem?
  Primary Concern Comments: 
 Comments: We expected to find a more reactive persistent slab problem. We only dug one snow pit. It showed a mostly right-side up snowpack, but with faceting lower in the snowpack. It was unreactive and snowpack layers were less defined than earlier in the season.
STABILITY TESTS
 Stability Test Results: ECTX. This result was surprising and could be do the location we sampled, aspect, elevation, etc. We did not hang our hats on this result and stuck to terrain less than 30 degrees. Even prying the isolated column with a shovel didn't yield any kind of clean shear or obvious weak layer.
OBVIOUS SIGNS OF INSTABILITY
 Marked with checkmark if observed:
 Collapsing (isolated)    
 Comments: We did not witness cracking, but a solo splitboarder we met up with later in the day commented that he heard one whumpf.
SNOW STABILITY
 Snow Stability Rating for your observed area: Good Confidence: MODERATE Trend: Improving
 Comments (aspects and elevations of instability, etc): We did not notice any red flags for the day. Our snow pit indicated a surprisingly stable snowpack. However, probing the snow indicated a hollow snowpack that is just deep enough to produce a scary avalanche if something slid.
BOTTOM LINE
 Comments: Our gut feeling was to keep it mellow despite the encouraging snowpack observations. What jumped out at us was the observed stability compared to ten days ago. Still, it doesn't feel like we're in the clear as far as persistent slab avalanches. We stuck to terrain under 30 degrees and skied the same aspect we investigated on our way to the top.

Overall, we had the best day of skiing this season today. The snow conditions are incredible on shaded aspects or other terrain sheltered from the sun.