Purple Ridge

CB Avalanche Center 2020-21 Observations

Date of Observation: 01/04/2021
Name: Alan Bernholtz

 

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Location: Purple ridge skin track
Aspect: East
Elevation: 10,500

 

Avalanches: None observed
Weather: Clear, cool, calm
Snowpack: The party of three discussed the days plan after all looking at the CBAC danger forecast. Purple Ridge. We knew there may be hazards in the snowpack and we decided to check it out. As we toured up the skin track, we heard several large collapses and observed cracking, The discussion was honest and open. We felt we could find a safe route up to the ridge and hoped the snowpack would become deeper and more stable the higher we went. Purple ridge had slid significantly during the last snow event. If we could get up high, it might be better. There were a lot of signs that the snowpack was not stable. Hollow, large facet layers on the ground, variable snowpack and unpredictability. A lot of times the third person would initiate the collapse. As we climbed, I felt uneasy with the terrain and the snowpack. Could we find a safe route up, yes. Was it worth the risk considering the terrain traps and snowpack signs of instability? I did not think so. The group was open and honest and realized there was different levels of risk acceptance. I had not been in the backcountry in several days. I could not justify the risk for the reward. 90% of the time it would have been fine but the 10% made me want to pull the plug on the tour. With the signs yelling at me from the snowpack and the terrain traps all around made me uncomfortable skiing that terrain. We are old friends, and it is hard to be the scardy cat but I was on this day. We turned around, skied conservatively back down to the snowmobiles and then went and skied a different aspect and angle allowing us to have a fun day skiing pow.
Morale of the story, talk, listen understand the risk and feel free to speak up and express your opinion. We will all ski together again.