Ripe Cornice

CB Avalanche Center 2020-21 Observations

Date of Observation: 03/27/2021

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Location: West Elks
Aspect: South East, South
Elevation: 12,000′

Avalanches: Other than some smaller sheds of recent snow attributed to solar warming below rock bands and such, no recent notable avalanches observed. While traversing the ridge to access our ski line, my partner put a left ski just a little to far out on a big cornice and punched through far enough to trigger a school bus-sized cornice fall. The ridge is very sharp (knife ridge) in this particular spot and his right ski didn’t leave bare rock on the windward side of the cornice when it failed. Fortunately, my buddy was in a safe enough location to not take a ride, but it was certainly a sobering reminder to give every cornice it’s due respect and always ensure you are in a safe place when negotiating the beast. It was a big cornice failure and entrained localized snow on it’s descent, however, it didn’t propogate much beyond the immediate path. Probably ran around 1000′. This cornice, as I assume most are currently, was primed and ready to go. The pictures come from my flip phone, so I apologize for the poor quality.
Weather: Ridge winds were moderate from the North. Pretty pleasant on the climb to the ridge. Lots of sun.