Date of Observation: 02/22/2022
Name: Zach Guy and Zach Kinler
Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Schuylkill Ridge to 11,400 ft, traveled mostly on NE aspects.
Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Wowza. Brief window of vis this afternoon displayed widespread natural slab activity on the steep NE facing rollers below the bench (BTL); counted at least 20 slabs mostly D1 to D1.5 and a few D2s. Slabs consistently were about a foot thick breaking on the “2022 total BS drought sandbox layer” (named by Evan). We had limited views of NTL slopes, but the 3 start zones that we could see all produced large avalanches. The most impressive was Thanksgiving Bowl which ran past the bench and snapped trees, D2.5 in size. Slabs near treeline were about 18″ thick. We skier triggered about 10 slab avalanches; these were all small in size because we were working small terrain features. Some were remotely triggered from short distances, most were triggered with ski cuts.
Weather: Light snowfall through most of the day, with rates increasing around 3 p.m. A brief period of greenhouse effect midday, otherwise overcast or obscured all day. Winds were surprisingly light at ridgetop with light drifting.
Snowpack: We traveled mostly in dense canopy, where the slab/weak layer combo didn’t seem to be an issue. Almost every opening or clearing that we touched produced a rumbling collapse and shooting cracks on slopes less than 36 degrees or so, or avalanched on slopes steeper than that. Slabs were 12″ to 18″ thick over the well-advertised weak layer. At 10,000′, we measured 12″ (1.0″ SWE) storm snow, and 15″ (1.4″ SWE) down to the facets. On some low angle, southwest facing ridge walking, we got several collapses in wind whales that were a couple feet thick behind tree fences.