First turns of the season… here’s what you need to know

RobStrickland2018-19 Observations, Fall 2018

The mountains surrounding Crested Butte received a solid coat of new snow last week. Accumulations ranged from 1 to 2 feet across our forecast area. The spine of the Ruby Range and Paradise Divide areas were the winners in snowfall totals. Westerly winds during this period produced fresh cornices and wind drifts up to 3 feet deep behind ridges and leeward terrain features. CBAC forecasters noted at least one significant (size 2) wind Slab avalanche and several loose snow avalanches over the weekend. This snowfall lured many skiers and riders into the high country for the first turns of the season.

If you head out into the high country looking for early season turns keep a few things in mind.

  • Every member of the party should always carry a beacon, shovel, probe.
  • Avalanche season is upon us and following basic avalanche safety habits are important.
  • The deepest areas to ride, are the same places most likely to trigger an ugly early season avalanche.
  • Terrain with drifted snow is the deepest and also the most dangerous at the moment.
    • These areas will be significantly deeper than surrounding terrain and may have a textured surface.
  • Areas below cornices and terrain directly behind ridges should be considered suspect.
  • Cracking in the snow is a sure sign you have found a potentially dangerous slab.
  • The risk of triggering an avalanche will slowly subside as clear skies and high pressure takes hold this week, but keep in mind the consequences of an early season avalanche could result in being dragged over rocks and stumps with the shallow depth of the current snowpack.
  • Keep the excitement in check while you rub the cobwebs from your avalanche eyes.

We will provide periodic condition updates as conditions warrant both here on our website, and on our social media channels (Facebook and Instagram). Look for the CBAC to resume daily forecast advisories sometime during the second half of November. Enjoy that early snowfall and send us your observations!