SW Pow

CB Avalanche Center 2019-20 Observations

Location: Paradise Divide Area
Date of Observation: 11/30/2019
Name: Evan Ross

Subject: SW Pow
Aspect: South, South West
Elevation: 11,000-11,500

Weather: I hiked around with 2 base layers, a softshell, a harder shell, and a big puffy with the hood up. Ooo hiked with my goggles on too. That should explain the weather best to us average people. I’m still cold. Maybe I’m just getting soft? Anyway, the down-valley winds were cranking and continuing to drift snow through the day, while the temperatures where cold. The nearby Cinnamon Weather Stations at 12,100ft showed W-NW winds around 30mph and a high temp of 1 degree. Poor vis with obscured to mostly cloudy sky.

Snowpack: Traveled on very specific SW slopes in the 34-37 degree range on average. Line everything up right, and the skiing was great without the avalanche issue on the other side of the compass. Line it up wrong, and the slope could be blown off by the wind, lacking enough snowpack at too low an elevation, or cross-loaded with a 1 to 2ft deep windslab.

Given the variability and the targeted objectives for skiing its hard to generalize a SW aspect at this elevation. Most SW and south slopes around these elevations are holding a thin snowpack without a current avalanche problem. Add in some more specific variables and you could run into a few more issues. The shaded sides of gullies are holding the old weak October snow. The 11/20 crust can be thick and strong on steep slopes, non-existent on lower angled slopes, and of course transitional in between. Next to the wind-slab avalanche problem, this 11/20 crust was the main potential weak-layer to manage. We had plenty of large collapses while traveling from low angled slopes to a steeper slope, or through sparse trees creating a variable snowpack structure.