Quick jaunt around near treeline slopes

CBAC2020-21 Observations

Date of Observation: 01/20/2021
Name: Eric Murrow


Zone: Northwest Mountains
Location: Sunny side of Mount Baldy
Aspect: East, South East, South
Elevation: 9,600′ – 11,500′


Avalanches: nothing new to report
Weather: Light snow and mostly cloudy skies in the morning gave way to mostly clear skies by around 11am. At 11,000′ I found around 2 inches of new snow. Observed transport of new snow on the highest terrain from westerly winds but not enough snow to cause a new avalanche problem.
Snowpack: Did not cover a lot of terrain but snowmobiled and skinned around on a number of near treeline features in the area. No signs of instability on machine or foot moving across terrain features that clearly had slabs present. Snow surfaces were a mix of stiff thin windboard capping weak facets, weak facets, or soft thin melt/freeze crusts capping weak facets. Stability test did not produce any concerning results. I was able to find a small, east-facing slope without a stiff, drifted windboard surface, or dramatic scouring, and expected I might get a propagating result on the 12/10 interface, but nope; the slab fractured without propagating. The 12/10 interface remains weak and shows little sign of rounding or sintering. Sunnier slopes showed weak facets sitting below melt/freeze crusts. As you would guess, none of the places I poked around will tolerate a significant loading event without breaking deeper into the snowpack.