Elk Creek Jaunt

Location: Kebler Pass Area
Date of Observation: 02/12/2019
Name: Zach Kinler and Eric Murrow

Subject: Elk Creek Jaunt
Aspect: North East, South
Elevation: 9600′-10,400′

Avalanches:

1x SS-ASu-R1D1-O, NE Aspect BTL (2/11)
1x SS-ASu-R2D2-O NE Aspect BTL (2/11)
1x HS-N-R1D1-I S aspect BTL(several days old)

Weather: Sunny skies and little to no wind below tree line. Temps in the mid to upper 20s.

Snowpack: Two unique snowpack structures from South-North that will certainly cause problems if our next loading event verifies. Multiple crust facet combs on South which produced propagating results in an ECT and a collapse on approach to the 25 degree slope. Slabs above and in between these interfaces range from 4F-1F. HS ~130cm.  This test profile came from just above Kebler Pass road immediately above one of the ‘7 sisters’ slide paths. See picture.

On a NE aspect with HS ~160cm we investigated a skier-triggered avalanche from yesterday. The avalanche failed on 6-8 mm SH(see picture) that was likely buried on 1/21 with a crown depth ~45cm(see picture). This was an unsupported, open slope with many large boulders, rolls and small benches with slope angles ~38-40 deg at the top and ~35 deg mid track.  A test in an uncollapsed portion of the hangfire produced an ECTP14. The slide propagated into terrain as low as 30 deg. and ran 300-400 ft over the road to the creek. Debris was up to ~1m deep.

Photos:

Slate river Valley Climax chutes NE ridge line

Location: Crested Butte Area
Date of Observation: 02/12/2019
Name: Chris Martin

Subject: Slate river Valley Climax chutes NE ridge line
Aspect: North, North East
Elevation: 9800′

Avalanches:

D2 – R4 observed from afar in classic climax chute repeat offender. Seems to be a natural.
Seems to have run on New snow with significant propagation across path, breaking mid slope.

Weather: Light to moderate winds as ascended out of valley flowing from W-N. Warm day, Lower 20s with light cloud coverage.

Snowpack: HS 150-170cm
HST 30-40cm
Graupel layer 30-40 cm from surface consistent from lower elevations on up to pit site at 9800′. CTM PC. Seems to be settling out. This layer is present all around the zone form 2/3 grapple event?
Reactive layer 110 from surface to small column tests CTH SP
Basal Facets Very large in size with consolidation level at 4F reacting to small column tests DTH SC.
ECTX.

Spooky layers in depths of snowpack. With these present it’ll be a while till we’re stepping on steeper north slopes. These layers

See photo.
Photos:

Long Lake activity

Location: Crested Butte Area
Date of Observation: 02/11/2019
Name: Zach Kinler and Eric Murrow

Subject: Long Lake activity
Aspect: North East, East
Elevation: 9,000-10,200

Avalanches:

No new avalanches observed.

Weather: Blustery and cold @ 11:00 with light to moderate winds at valley floor,16F, Broken skies. After frontal passage, skies cleared and temps warmed a bit with pleasant conditions in the trees.

Snowpack: Visited a D2 avalanche that failed around the 1/16-1/18 loading event. Bed surface was filled in with ~40 cm of F hard snow. HS near crown 130cm. This avalanche failed in an open East facing slope below tree line and propagated into sparse aspens and pines. The crown was ~ 60cm deep across the slope and bed surface was a 1.5cm crust 33 cm above the ground that likely formed after a warm dry spell in mid December left a crust on top of weak snow from Nov and early Dec . Below the crust was 3 mm F-4F- Depth Hoar/Faceted Crystals.

In the shallower zones with HS below 150 cm such as this area, the snowpack has old, well developed faceted snow, 4f hard, at the ground from Thanksgiving storms and a cohesive 1f slab resting above.  Mid-January (1/15) weak layer and 2/2 interface will be players during upcoming loading event as well as basal layers if loading comes slow and steady.  Test results were ECTN on 2/2 and ECTX.

Old bed surfaces from January avalanche cycles will come to life relatively early in the next loading event.  Snow from MLK week snow and 2/2-2/7 snow that filled in this bed surface is losing cohesion and faceting – will not accept much of a load before failing again.

Photos:

skier triggered avalanches

Location: Kebler Pass Area
Date of Observation: 02/11/2019
Name: MR

Subject: skier triggered avalanches
Aspect: North East, East
Elevation: 10,000-10,500

Avalanches:

I skier triggered R2.5D1.5 slide, would guess 150 feet wide, ENE aspect at around 10,400 feet Kebler/Town zone, trigger point probably right around 35 degrees, ran full track through sub 30 degree terrain, maybe 400 feet, running across a road cut and stopping at drainage bottom. We had witnessed one other skier triggered slide earlier in the day, R1.5D1, from another party, and thought we were moving to mellower terrain.
We discussed the reality that we were still skiing through an obvious start zone, but felt that the terrain was mellow enough that any instabilities would be localized in nature. The terrain did have a convexity on top that pushed just over 35 degrees but the rest of the terrain looked to be sub 30 degree. I was the first skier to drop. Just after skiing through the convexity in question, and noteworthy to say right when I felt like I had gotten past the potential trigger point, I saw the snow fracture in all directions under my feet. I immediately started traversing to my left toward my known safe zone. The snow was moving slowly and I didn’t feel all that endangered but I was surprised that as I traversed left the snow continued to fracture all around me and it took longer to get to my safe zone than I anticipated. Everything was still moving slowly when I got onto non-moving snow.
The slide continued over a second convexity, gaining momentum, and ended up running full track with speed and propagating to the left and right and developing a powder cloud. The avalanche ran through small trees but did not damage them, and we estimated the deposition pile to be around 3 feet deep as estimated on the road cut. Unfortunately I didn’t take the time to measure crown heights but from photos and memory would estimate to be between 6-18″. We do not believe it would have been deep enough to fully bury someone, but it ran fast enough to potentially cause serious injury in the handful of small trees it ran through at the bottom.
While we recognized and discussed the red flags we had already seen, we thought we were moving into manageable terrain. We obviously underestimated the potential for propagation and energy. See photos.

Weather:

Snowpack:
Photos:

Near and above treeline west faces

Location: Kebler Pass Area
Date of Observation: 02/10/2019
Name: Eric Murrow

Subject: Near and above treeline west faces
Aspect: North, North East, East, South East, South, South West, West, North West
Elevation:

Avalanches:

Two unobserved avalanches. one small slab in Axtel 2nd bowl apron, and another on drifted east facing ridge below treeline near Bracken Creek on north side of Anthracite Range.

Weather: Clear skies with moderate to strong gusts near and above treeline. Plumes and light loading from southerly winds periodically from highest terrain.

Snowpack: Took a tour out the Kebler Pass area looking at snow volumes on west-facing terrain to identify how much snow from the last storm stuck around from the prolonged SW winds earlier in the week. Found the most west facing upper elevation slopes were blown out and hammered by the wind. Very little evidence of avalanche activity on westerly slopes – may have been a few small slides but crowns were buffed over and debris was covered over. Suspected crowns were likely from the loading period in the second half of January, not the recent February storm.

Photos:

Pittsburg

Location: Paradise Divide Area
Date of Observation: 02/10/2019
Name: Joey Carpenter

Subject: Pittsburg
Aspect: North East, East, South East
Elevation: 9200-10600

Avalanches:

Large natural R3D2.5 in east facing alpine terrain of redwell. Estimates, observed from road. Likely ran during storm cycle.

3x R1D2 naturals on the E face of schuylkill mountains eastern ridge line. Viewed from basin, likely ran during storm cycle.

Weather: Bluebird and beautiful. Single digit temps at trailhead quickly rose into the twenties with strong sun. Light breeze kept surfaces cool.

Snowpack: Yesterday evenings strong wind event packed available snow into stiff but stubborn windslabs even in lower elevation bands. We were not able to trigger any on steep, small test slopes. Their presence was obvious though.
Photos:

Snodrass tour

Location: Crested Butte Area
Date of Observation: 02/10/2019
Name: Avy 2 – Dave Bum

Subject: Snodrass tour
Aspect: North East, East
Elevation: 10,301

Avalanches:

Did not see any Avalanches or signs of instability throughout our tour.

Weather: Temp: -6c
Wind: Calm
Sky: Clear
Precip: None

Snowpack: Pit 1:
Aspect: E
Elevation: 10:300
Incline: 30
HS: 135cm
ECTX
Snowpack was right side up till the (Fist) DH/facets 115cm down 20cm of facets to the ground. None reactive on that interface.

Pit 2:
Aspect: E
Elevation: 10:280
Incline: 30
HS: 150cm
ECTX
CT23 Brk 40cm down, Interface of the last storm snow.
Snowpack was right side up till the (Fist) DH/facets 120cm down 30cm of facets to the ground. Got a CT31+ on this layer
Photos:

Maroon Gothic Avery – up to 401 riders trail

Location: Kebler Pass Area
Date of Observation: 02/10/2019
Name: Chris Martin

Subject: Maroon Gothic Avery – up to 401 riders trail
Aspect: South West, West
Elevation: 9800′

Avalanches:

N/O

Weather: OVC All day
winds out of SW-W
Low winds throughout the day becoming intense from 4-6pm
Beautiful alpen glow on Mt Cb observed at 1835
TAir around -5C midday
Tsurf -8

Snowpack: No direct signs of instability.
Strong mid pack, supportive.
Shallower snowpack observed in this eastern part of the zone.
Strong snow observed over a weak structure at the base of the snowpack. The depth hoar at the base showed no signs of instability where we were and was on its trend towards healing and consolidation.
P Slab structure identified but unreactive to large column tests. A significant layer of instability was observed 75 cm down consisting of 1mm FC/Cr combo. Sudden results on Cts and no results upon Ects. One PST test executed on FC layer 75cm down PST 40/11 arr.
Photos:

Coneys

Location: Crested Butte Area
Date of Observation: 02/09/2019
Name: Avy 2 – Dave Bum

Subject: Coneys
Aspect: North East, East
Elevation: 10,445

Avalanches:

Viewed multiple old avalanches (4+ days?) on NE/E aspects below tree line

Weather: Temp: -4.5C
Wind: Calm
Sky: Overcast
Precip: None

Viewed wind loading in the Alpine througout our tour

Snowpack: HS: 185cm-195cm
Multiple Hard results on CTH tests Brk 35cm down from the surface
ECTN on same layer at CT Test
Old interface of Facets to midpack 140cm down still posed concern. Facets seemed to be gaining strength (4F) but still seem to be a concern .

Was a bit surprised of how un-reactive the snow was

Photos:

Red Coon Glades Observation

Location: Crested Butte Area
Date of Observation: 02/10/2019
Name: Chris Benson

Subject: Red Coon Glades Observation
Aspect: South East
Elevation: 11,300′

Avalanches:

No cracking. Our party observed one small collapse however we followed a pre-existing skin track for the majority of the climb.

Weather: Overcast. Moderate SW winds. No significant ridge-top wind transport.

Snowpack: Top of Red Coon Glades. SSE aspect 11,300′ 25slope
Hs 165 cm, Hst 30cm, PF 40 cm, PS 20cm
Small and large column tests did not show results. CTN (x2), ECTX. While the upper snowpack did not produce results, a crust-facet-crust comb down 75 cm produced DTH SC (x2). This same interface also produced PST 45/100 End down 75cm.
Photos: