Name: Ben Pritchett
Date of Observation: 01/05/2015
Snowpack: No questions about the distribution of the Dec 13th weak layer. It’s widespread and continuous in the Crested Butte zone in the near and below treeline areas. The uncertainty with the Persistent slab problem is with distribution of the slabs themselves. Based on observations over several days around the Slate and Washington Gulch areas, seems like the collapsing happens pretty consistently (several to many a day) in undisturbed areas where there is more than 45-50cm of recent snow on the Dec 13 interface. If there is less than 40cm over the Dec 13 layer, seems like the skiing gets punchy and you’re penetrating through the slab skiing in the weak layer, surfing facets. Bottom line, in the shallower snowpack zone around town, ski pen is a pretty handy observation at the moment to track the presence or absence of the persistent slab problem across terrain features; if ski penetration is less than about 20cm, it’s likely that you’re riding on top of a slab that’s perched on a guilty weak layer. Right now, contrary to the common strategy of avoiding weak areas, it worked well to stick to the shallower weaker snow and surf the facets. I’m inclined to avoid skiing steeper slopes below treeline that feel supportive.
3 collapses, each in open areas where slab was supportive (ski pen