Baxter Basin snow surface obs

Location: Paradise Divide Area
Date of Observation: 02/17/2017
Name: Zach Guy
Subject: Baxter Basin snow surface obs
Aspect: North, North East, East, South East, South, South West
Elevation: 9500-11900 ft

Avalanches: Skier triggered several dry loose avalanches on very steep, northerly facing terrain N/ATL. One of these sluffs pulled out a small wind slab, about 10″ thick. All were D1 in size. No other signs of instability. Plenty of older avalanches from the past week or so, dry loose, wet loose, storm slabs, etc, but nothing ran today that we saw. See photos.
Weather: A few bands of clouds passed over mid-day, but overcast skies didn’t start building until 3:30 p.m. Warm day. Southwest winds began picking up in the late afternoon, light to moderate. No precip.
Snowpack: Northerly aspects: the snow surface is .5 – 1 mm near surface facets at all elevations, capped by a thin wind skin above treeline, and textured by wind in some places.
Southerly aspects: Crusts softened mid-day but refroze into a thick melt-freeze crust, (5 cm or thicker), did not observe any facets above or below the crust where we traveled. The crust was mix of textured and slick. One slope holding a thin melt-freeze crust (E facing) had facets below the crust.

This was a wet loose avalanche that ran earlier this week off of an E aspect NTL, but appeared to gouge out a persistent slab on a NE aspect, about 10,000 ft.

The wet loose cycle was more impressive here. More widespread D1.5’s and D2’s as there was more storm snow to entrain in this area.  East, South, and West aspects.  

Skier triggered loose snow avalanche pulled out a small wind slab on a high elevation, northerly gulley. This slab appeared to be an isolated instability in the terrain that we traveled in.

Some old storm slabs that probably ran last weekend.

Glide cracks are appearing on a lot of slopes. Yikes.  Sluff management required on anything steeper than 40 degrees today.