The snowpack in this area is worse off than Galena Summit and north. The slab ranges from 20-35 cm here, but the FC/DH mid-pack is weaker and more sensitive than other areas I’ve been skiing in this winter. Widespread collapsing and cracking with every step breaking trail. Expect widespread instability with the incoming storm in the region. As one of my mentors said, “unusual snowpack and weather produces unusual and unexpected avalanches”. I expect to see mid-slope, mid and low elevations in this region if the forecast storm verifies.
Day started out OVC and cleared to FEW. Winds generally light increasing to M with frontal passage in the PM. Surface snow moving, refilling tracks and building shallow wind slabs.
Widespread poor structure abounds. See notes above. Hand pits failing in isolation both above and below MFcr associated with 12/11 interface. Blocks easily sliding on switchback cuts. Ski pen ranging from 10-25cm depending on aspect. While wind affected areas have a more robust slab structure, we were getting collapsing and cracking in sheltered terrain, all elevations. Collapses were propagating further in wind affected snow.
Layer Depth/Date: 20-35cm dn
Weak Layer(s): Dec 11, 2020 (FCsf)
Problem exists all aspects except due S, SW due to limited snow in avalanche terrain. Needs steeper slope (>35?) to actually avalanche.
Closed terrain 35 and steeper in the AM. In the field, We kept it conservative and skied at and below 30 degrees. The cracking of a 30 degree slope was a good reminder of how sensitive the problem is. Based on our obs, we did not want to ski 30-35. Stepping back mindset.