Fresh D2.5 Very Large Avalanche

CB Avalanche Center 2018-19 Observations

Location: Crested Butte Area
Date of Observation: 02/16/2019
Name: Evan Ross

Subject: Fresh D2.5 Very Large Avalanche
Aspect: North East, South
Elevation: 9,200-11,600


A fresh D2.5 slab avalanche was right off the Red Lady skin track before you hit the first exposed ridge, on the steep NE terrain to the climbers right. Measured about ~10cm’s of snow on the bed surface at 1pm. So this avalanche likely failed early this morning or yesterday afternoon. Lots of wind-loading on this slope so it may have failed naturally, or been remote triggered by the folks setting the skin track. The Crown averaged 2.5 to 3ft and failed in the upper snowpack. I was not able to get below the crown to see if the weak layers was at the old snow surface or in the late January interfaces. On the parts of the slope that had avalanched earlier this season the avalanche had stepped down to ~30cm’s above the ground and the crown grew to 4 to 5ft in places.

Weather: At lower elevations the winds were moderate and blowing from the west down valley. Plenty of snow available for transport and drifting on open terrain features. At near treeline elevations westerly winds were moderate to strong and drifting snow was intense on open terrain features. The majority of snow available for transport has already drifted on the one open ridgeline we traveled while todays snow was just continuing to add fuel. Measured about 5cm of new snow in about 4hrs at 10,000ft today. Today’s storm totals were around 15cm at 10,000ft.

Snowpack: A nice and quiet snowpack where we traveled though we didn’t push it. No collapse observed. Kept the terrain choices to near or below 30 degrees on southerly facing slope and avoided drifted features. On southerly facing slopes the 2/15 crust was a real bitch, but thankfully it got buried by enough snow not deter the ski quality in the afternoon.