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PROFESSIONAL OBSERVATION FORM
 Start Date: 12.20.18 Name: Savage Operation: SAC
 Drainage/Route:  Couch Summit/Salt Bowns Creeks Observed Terrain:  5700-7600', all aspects Zone/Region:  Soldier Mountains
WEATHER OBSERVATIONS
 HN24: 0 HST: 0 Sky: BKN Precip: Temps: 20s F
 Ridgeline Wind: Calm
 Blowing Snow: Prev Snow Available for Transport: Small amounts
 Comments: Increasing high clouds all day: went from FEW to OVC.
AVALANCHE OBSERVATIONS
 No. Location Date Size Type Trigger Aspect Elevation Comments
  Smoky Dome Within past week 1.5 U N E 9800
SNOWPACK OBSERVATIONS
 HS: Dirt/sage at low elevations with 2cm+ rain crust at/near surface below 6700': 50cm @6900' (see profiles): 70cm @ 7500' with less widespread SH and softer/bigger FC in bottom part of pack  
 Upper Pack: PP and DF from storms since 12/11 
 Middle Pack: 12/11 SH layer: buried upright, now getting integrated into layers above and below 
 Lower Pack: FC .5-2mm, no striated depth hoar 
AVALANCHE PROBLEM ASSESSMENT
Avalanche Characteristics
Character/Avalanche Problem:
Persistent Slab

Layer/Depth:
12/11 SH @25cm

Likelihood of Triggering
Sensitivity:
Unreactive

Spatial Distribution:
Specific
Terrain
  Primary Concern Comments: Distribution wasn't widespread or isolated...but I'd have a hard time describing exactly where it is other than sheltered middle elevation terrain.
 
Avalanche Characteristics
Character/Avalanche Problem:
Wind Slab

Layer/Depth:
15cm

Likelihood of Triggering
Sensitivity:
Not Observed

Spatial Distribution:
Isolated
Terrain
  Problem 2 Comments: Isolated stiff wind slabs existed.
STABILITY TESTS
 Stability Test Results: @6900' 50cm HS pit: ECTN4@38cm, ECTN7@32cm (12/16 interface), ECTN11@26cm (12/11 SH), PSTsf 18/100 @26cm (12/11 SH)
SNOW STABILITY
 Snow Stability Rating for your observed area: Good Confidence: LOW Trend:
 Comments (aspects and elevations of instability, etc): Very good stability at lower elevations and solar middle elevation slopes due to thin snow cover. Good stability rating on other middle elevation slopes based on lack of recent activity + no cracking or collapsing + stable test results. The stability rating does not apply to upper elevation terrain - I did not go there.
BOTTOM LINE
 Comments: Interesting, variable, complex snowpack in the Soldiers compared to Smoky/Boulder or Sawtooths due to strong to extreme NW winds, 12/17 rain event, sporadic 12/11 surface hoar, and less snow in general. Facets in lower third of the snowpack on shady slopes were getting weaker and softer as we climbed above 7200', but we ran out of road at 7600' and there isn't enough snow on Miller Ridge to go cross country without a good chance of wrecking A-arms and tracks and skis and...
I was surprised at the lack of activity in upper elevation/alpine terrain; obvious, large wind deposits (probably hard slabs) existed but did not produce significant natural activity.
FILE ATTACHMENTS

181220_CouchSummit_7200W_SnowPilotPitSS.jpg
Couch Summit snowpit: 6900', shady sheltered W aspect

181220_CouchSummit_pit_7200W_SS_labeled.jpg
Photo of same Couch Summit pit. 50cm total depth.

181220_CouchSummit_road_6500_babywindslabonraincrust_nosnowmiddleelevationsolars.jpg
Tiny wind pillow that failed on rain crust around 6500' - background is middle elevation solar slopes.

181220_SaltBownsRd_frequentrunner_littlesnow.jpg
Frequent running, NE-facing path around 8000' on Salt Bowns Road. This path has a big fetch and usually has much more snow in general and especially on the climbers' right at the top of the path.