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Dec. 20, 2021

Felt like Rice-A-Ronie to the ground

Date of Observation: 12/20/2021
Name: Evan Ross & Bud Tymczyszyn

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Coney’s and the NE side of Snodgrass, below treeline.

Observed avalanche activity: No
Weather: Clear and calm.
Snowpack: 12/19 Coneys area:

12/19 Coneys area:
On the up valley tilted NE slopes the snowpack lacked much structure and was basically becoming all weak. We didn’t observed avalanche problem in those areas. On the down valley tilted easterly slopes, we found many thick slabs from the wind event last week that created previous cross-loading. However, those slopes didn’t have a weak layer below them. We didn’t encounter somewhere where a slab and a weak layer mixed, where ever that pocket is located would be the most concerning area.

12/20 Snodgrass NE
80% of the terrain we traveled through had either previously avalanched and had a very shallow weak snowpack, or the slope hadn’t avalanched and was still weak without any concerning structure. The other 20% of the terrain traveled had decaying slabs that still had enough structure to collapse and shoot cracks. There were a couple pockets that we chose to avoid. Otherwise, a triggered avalanche didn’t appear like it would propagate very wide given the discontinuous slabs and variability in the snowpack structure. Unfortunately, once it snows again the weak layer will be very continuous through the terrain.

Photos:

5122


Dec. 20, 2021

Weaker snow surfaces on bed surfaces

Date of Observation: 12/20/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Traveled on E to S to SW aspects to 12,500 ft in Poverty Gulch

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: A handful of D1s off of Mineral Point from the past few days on both south and east aspects. Some were point releases, at least one looked like a small wind slab.
Weather: Mild, sunny, light winds.
Snowpack: Checking on snow surfaces near and above treeline before the next storm. In general, they weren’t overly alarming in this area, as far as long-lived persistent weak layers go. The snow surface is settling and slightly textured by wind around the compass. There are some very small facets developing on the surface that could be an issue in the short term. The most developed facets at the surface, up to 1mm in size, were in shallow areas: areas that were recently scoured close to the ground by wind, or on old bed surfaces on shady aspects. So it seems persistent instabilities on repeat offenders will be at play out here. The snow surface became slightly moist above treeline on south aspects and got wet below treeline on the southern quadrant. Snow depths are around 2 meters at 11,000 ft. No signs of instability all day.

Photos:

5121


Dec. 19, 2021

Anthracite Range

Date of Observation: 12/19/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Various aspects of Ohio Peak from 9500 to 12200 ft.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: A few harmless loose snow avalanches trigged by solar warming on southerly aspects.
Weather: Light winds, clear skies. Temps felt cold in the shade, mild in the sun.
Snowpack: No signs of instability all day (for a change). Persistent slab problem feels deep and stubborn here in wind protected terrain, HS averaged about 160 cm. The 12/15 surface hoar layer is preserved below about 30 cm of recent snow and is already producing propagating results in column tests. We found this layer on northerly facing, sparse glades up to about 10,600 ft, and not above that. There is also surface hoar on the snow surface in a similar distribution. Apart from wind board on some slopes above treeline, the snow surface is low density on northerly aspects and I expect it will continue faceting over the next few days. Snow surfaces were getting a little moist on steep southerlies.

Photos:

5120


Dec. 19, 2021

Activity at Snodgrass

Date of Observation: 12/18/2021
Name: Cormac Zachar

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: NE aspect of Snodgrass. Skinned up the meadow and toured down California Bowl to gothic road.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Triggered the slide shown below from a jump turn ~10 yards above the start zone. Started just below a section of aspens standing on a 40-45 slope, ran through the bowl’s ~35 degree slope area. Appeared to be all recent storm snow that slid, no major slab identifiable.
Weather: Sunny, skied late afternoon with weather in the teens and the bowl in the shadows.
Snowpack: Shallow/early season coverage for Snodgrass. Ski pen to the ground in the upper bowl near 10,850 (hit rocks on the first several turns), snowpack depth increased moving from the top of the bowl to gothic road. Before dropping into the bowl, triggered one shooting crack on the ridge about 5-6 feet long at 10,900. Felt a few other collapses down in the flatter slopes nearer gothic road at the end of the run.

Photos:

5119


Dec. 18, 2021

Tested NE persistent slab

Date of Observation: 12/19/2021
Name: Bud Tymczyszyn

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Red Lady Glades from Kebler TH.

Observed avalanche activity: No
Avalanches:
Weather: Clear and cold, -7 — mid 20s
Snowpack: Dug a pit off the skin-track at 10,400 NE 28deg slope. Got a collapse while digging, and a propagating test result on the basal facets.  ECTP14SC at 23cm.

Also dug a pit to look at snowpack structure on a SSE aspect at 11,400ft. Only potential area of concern was a soft slab resting on a 1cm crust down about 20cm. Didn’t get a propagating result at this interface and saw no signs of instability on a nearby wind-loaded test slope.

We primarily traveled on southerly facing terrain with no other signs to instability. Snow surfaces stayed cold on these lower angled slopes.

Photos:

5118


Dec. 18, 2021

Reactive surface hoar below treeline

Date of Observation: 12/18/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Mount Whetstone, South to east to north aspects up to 12,200 ft.

Observed avalanche activity: No
Avalanches: Some old slides and ski triggered a 2” wind slab on a north aspect ATL
Weather: Cold, light winds, clear skies.
Snowpack: In wind-sheltered below treeline terrain, we observed continuous collapses while breaking trail, some localized and about a dozen rumbling collapses that propagated up to 100 ft. The culprit was the 12/6 surface hoar layer, a little more than a foot deep below a faceting soft slab. As we ascended to near and above treeline, the signs of instability stopped; slabs were denser and the surface hoar changed to just facets/depth hoar. Stability tests on a low angle east aspect at 11800 ft produced a mix of propagating and non-propagating results below a 2 foot slab (4F to 1F hard) on the 12/6 crust facet complex. (ECTP26, ECTN26, ECTX, PST55/100 END). See profile. Snow surfaces are faceting at all elevations, with small surface hoar growth below treeline. The 12/15 surface hoar layer is also well preserved below a few inches of snow, at least 10mm in size.  Most of the alpine start zones where we traveled were scoured from the big wind event on 12/15, big erosional features and bare ground exposed in places.

Photos:

 

5117


Dec. 18, 2021

slabs not yet faceted through in the cold sink

Date of Observation: 12/17/2021
Name: Ben Pritchett

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Gothic Road to East River

Observed avalanche activity: No
Avalanches:
Weather: Ridgeline Wind Speed: 10-20 mph
Ridgeline Wind Direction: W
Wind Loading: None
Temperature: 15 F
Sky Cover: Overcast
Depth of New Snow: 4 cm
Depth of Total Snow: 65 cm
Weather Description: Light snow showers, chilly, just a bit of wind, but not enough to move snow in the valley.
Snowpack: Several large, slope-scale collapses with spiderweb cracks where settled slabs sat previously undisturbed on old weak snow. Where I found snow deeper than around 2.5′ deep, predictably the slope would collapse and crack. Where the snowpack was shallower on slopes that lacked the old snow, the Dec 9-10 storm snow is beginning to facet and loose strength (in this particularly cold valley).

Photos:

5116


Dec. 18, 2021

Big collapse

Date of Observation: 12/16/2021
Name: Jeff Banks

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Forest Road going up to green lakes

Observed avalanche activity: No
Snowpack: Big collapse in an open clearing of a road cut, dropped a couple inches. To paraphrase an old Cake song; bowel shaking earth quakes of doubt & remorse. Skinned for a couple of km of low angle forest and this was perhaps the most wide open clearing we encountered & notably only collapse, in otherwise dense, silent forest.

5115


Dec. 17, 2021

Snodgrass Obs

Date of Observation: 12/17/2021
Name: Alex Tiberio

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: NE run on snodgrass

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Debris from last major cycle mostly in areas with dense tree cover
Weather: Mostly clear skies with some snow flurries
Snowpack: Touchy on NE aspects. Dug a pit at the top of 3rd Bowl ECTP23 @ 10cm PSTend 25/100 @ 10cm Skied lower angled terrain near the saddle large whumping collapses while skiing

5114


Dec. 17, 2021

Large Collapse at Coneys

Date of Observation: 12/17/2021
Name: Ben Ammon

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: 3 laps at Coneys

Observed avalanche activity: No
Avalanches:
Weather:
Snowpack: Large collapse and cracks shooting 50-75 feet in the start zone of 1st Bowl proper (skiers left of the slide on 12/10). It was fairly stubborn, once it collapsed it fractured most of the start zone but didn’t slide.

Photos:

5113


Dec. 17, 2021

Collapses on the flats and another preserved surface hoar layer

Date of Observation: 12/17/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Traveled on NE to SE aspects near and below treeline, lower Slate.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Nothing recent. Documented more activity from last cycle.
Weather: Very light snowfall at times. Mostly cloudy skies, light winds, no transport observed.
Snowpack: We found about 6″ to 10″ of recent snow over a preserved surface hoar layer that somehow survived the wind event and was buried on 12/15. I found this layer consistently in hand pits up to about 10,000 ft in sparsely gladed, wind sheltered terrain on northerly aspects. I didn’t see it near ridgeline start zones. Not enough snow on this surface hoar layer for slab concerns at the moment..
We experienced a handful of collapses on basal facets near valley bottom on low angle terrain, some were localized, some radiated up to 100 ft. Many occurred after the second or third skier in the skin track had crossed. Stability tests near and below treeline on shady aspects produced hard, propagating results on the 12/6 facets. Almost all of the steep terrain that we passed by today had slid naturally during the previous cycle. Those slopes did not show signs of instability.
There were small, localized drifts from the 12/15 wind event behind tree fences and near ridges. Ski cuts and cornice drops didn’t produce any signs of instability with these wind slabs.

Photos:

5112


Dec. 17, 2021

Red Coon/Ponytail Glades

Date of Observation: 12/17/2021
Name: Travis Colbert

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Up the gentle ridge across the gully from the main Red Lady skin track toward Coon Basin. Stopped just shy of Coon ridge (around 11,300 ft) and made some mellow turns in the upper glades.

Observed avalanche activity: No
Weather: Mostly sunny at 11AM becoming mostly cloudy by early afternoon. Very light SW breeze with intermittent snow flurries, but no accumulation.
Snowpack: Total depth depended on elevation and aspect, but around 60-70cm in the upper glades with 3-5cm new snow on a 5cm sun crust. The crust was more pronounced on southerly aspects and became less noticeable with the slightest tilt to the east. No signs of instability on 30-32 degree slopes.

5108


Dec. 16, 2021

Slate River

Date of Observation: 12/16/2021
Name: Evan Ross & Alex Banas

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Slate River. NE, 9,000ft to 11,400ft

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Nothing fresh since last weeks avalanche cycle. Of particular note, during the 12/10 avalanche cycle an avalanche had propagated from Run Away Ski, through the Lap Track Track Trees, and through most of Yogies. In my 14 or so years in this area I’ve only seen an avalanche go wall to wall across the lap track trees a few times. Cool or not cool?
Weather: Clear sky, becoming partly cloudy. Moderate wind gusts at ridge line transporting snow.
Snowpack: The Slate River Valley had plenty of wind-affected snow, but as soon as we started climbing into the avalanche paths out of the valley the snow surface was all lovely and unaffected by the wind event. Snow surfaces were soft even at ridgeline elevations. Ski pen around 25 to 30cm.

The snowpack in this area was greatly affected by the avalanche activity between 12/9 and 12/10. There wasn’t a lot of undisturbed snow out there. In those undisturbed areas, the persistent slab avalanche problem felt stubborn. We were able to get a few collapses, often with some extra effort.

On the slopes that had avalanche a week ago, I was eager to see if they were developing a new avalanche problem. Below treeline, I didn’t find anything concerning. Near treeline, there were some areas that did pose a concern due to the additional wind-loading.

Below treeline, I didn’t find anywhere that enough snow has accumulated on those old bed surfaces to create a new slab on the remaining facets. The average new snow depths on top of those old bed surfaces ranged from 30cm to 90cm. From a distance, it’s difficult to identify the slopes that avalanched on 12/9, while the slope that avalanche on 12/10 remained obvious.

Near treeline, the slopes that avalanched on 12/10, or generally later in the storm, didn’t pose much concern for a new avalanche problem on this tour. The slopes that avalanched early in the storm, around 12/9, were harder to identity that they had previously avalanched. Those slopes had seen enough wind-loading over the last week to start creating new slabs right near ridgeline. In the end, we didn’t avoid wind-loaded terrain, be we did make assessments and encountered heightened avalanche concerns in those areas.

Photos:

5106


Dec. 16, 2021

Morning obs from Mt. CB

Date of Observation: 12/16/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Views of Scarp Ridge, some of the Ruby Range, Axtell, and Gothic

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Not much interesting to report. Looks like a pair of slabs on a leeward aspect off of Scarp Ridge.
Weather: Cold and clear, no wind transport.
Snowpack: We were wondering whether the extreme alpine wind speeds were actively loading the alpine or just blowing into space. From my vantage, northeasterly aspects got fatter in the past 24 hours. Some terrain features on other aspects definitely got stripped.

Photos:

5105


Dec. 15, 2021

Blown

Date of Observation: 12/15/2021
Name: Evan Ross

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Gunsight Pass. Northerly facing slopes between 9,000ft and 10,400.

Observed avalanche activity: No
Weather: Felt like I was hanging out at an airport or something with jet engines running all day. The wind was generally light where I spent most of my day, but as soon as you get out of any cover it was full-on, strong down-valley winds. Lots of snow transport and wind erosion.
Snowpack: Around 10,000ft the HS averaged 70cm in the flats. Primary traveled on northerly facing slopes where it was easy to identify the layer of weak facets on the ground. Unforutnily they are just an arms reach way, or the layer is easy to identify with a ski pole. The mid-pack slab was around 4f hard over F hard facets The recent storm had deposited 3 to 4″ of new snow and the ski pen averaged around 25cm. In several places, there was small surface hoar just under the new snow, that somehow survived the early wind.

The persistent slab avalanche problem felt stubborn to trigger and lacked obvious signs of instability, without some extra effort. Usually, an extra couple of hard jumps could initiate a collapse where the snowpack had been undisturbed. The few bigger and steeper slopes I got close too, turned out to have already avalanched during last week’s cycle and had not yet accumulated enough new snow to become a problem again. From a distance, I wasn’t able to identify which slopes had or hadn’t previously avalanched.

Photos:

5104


Dec. 15, 2021

Protected

Date of Observation: 12/15/2021
Name: Than Acuff

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: BTL, NE aspect

Observed avalanche activity: No
Avalanches: Only old ones
Weather: Low 20’s and snowy some periods of heavy snow. Winds pretty subdued aside from the occasional 15 mph gust which started from the SW on our way out but shifted to NW. Could hear it honking up high.
Snowpack: New snow overnight about 5″, 3″ fell while we were out there. Light and awesome. There was a crust on easterly aspects out in the open below the new snow.

Photos:

5103


Dec. 15, 2021

Sensitive wind slabs forming

Date of Observation: 12/15/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: CB Nordic Hill

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Ski cut a small wind slab, 10″ thick, on a small, windloaded slope below treeline.
Weather: Winds actively blowing a few inches of new snow.

Photos:

5102


Dec. 15, 2021

Gothic weather update

Date of Observation: 12/15/2021
Name: billy barr

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Gothic townsite

Weather: A lot of noise but little substance. The wind gradually built overnight to become a full on blizzard around 5 a.m. But by 7 the wind has let up and the snow has, for now, stopped. There was just 1″ wind blown and warm snow with 0.10″ of water. A good bit of wind transport but not a lot of new snow to move. Currently overcast with light SW wind and light snow seems to just be starting. Overnight high ws 30F after yesterday’s high of 38F. The current and the low is 18F with 18″ of snow on the ground as it continues to settle.

5100


Dec. 14, 2021

Rec ski day out West Brush Creek

Date of Observation: 12/14/2021
Name: Eric Murrow

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: West Brush Creek road to skin up Union Chutes. Terrain south of WSC Peak in West Brush drainage, directly across valley from Teocalli.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Noticeably less avalanche activity below treeline as compared to Northwest Mountains forecast area. Near treeline produced numerous avalanches on north and northeast aspects directly below ridgeline in wind-drifted areas on shaded aspects.
Weather: Broken skies for much of the day with a pleasant period of Few clouds around 2 pm. Winds were light below treeline and looked to be moderate at ridgetop, but no wind loading was observed.
Snowpack: Small Surface Hoar was present near valley bottom but 100 feet above cold sink Surface Hoar disappeared. Snow surface on shaded aspects near and below treeline was faceted but small-grained (.5mm). Around 11,000 feet and above soft, breaker wind-board appeared across the landscape. I experienced many localized collapses, but just a single, loud moderately sized collapse as I exited a northeast-facing profile site (see attached image) which produced many cracks across the slope. I avoided steep, wind-drifted terrain in the area and stuck to simple, lower-angled options.

Snow depth on sunny slopes in the area was around 35cm and 70cm on shaded slopes. Ski penetration was generally around 6-8 inches and boot penetration was to the ground everywhere.

Photos:

 

5099


Dec. 13, 2021

Signs of instability at Coneys

Date of Observation: 12/13/2021
Name: Cormac Zachar

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Skinned up the normal route via the woods to the south of the bowls. In the meadow approach, there were collapses and wumphing with almost every couple of steps. Several collapses propagated significant distances outward from the skin track. Once out of the flats, no obvious instabilities were present up to the ridge. Plenty of surface hoar everywhere the sun was hitting. Our skin track only crossed over 30 degrees once, and we didn’t test avy terrain on the descent either. Skied down the skiers left then right of second bowl… No signs of instability while skiing, but only crossed over 30 degrees once and for no more than a hundred feet.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: No new slides. Skinned past the previously reported skier-triggered avalanche in Convex Corner. Appeared to have a 2-3 ft deep crown and ran approx. 75 yards (D1.5?). Avy path was almost identical to the area of transition between <30 and 30-35 degree slopes on the upper third of Convex.
Weather: Sunny, low 30s.
Snowpack:

5096


Dec. 13, 2021

Slate river

Date of Observation: 12/13/2021
Name: Alan Bernholtz

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Poverty Gulch area. This observation confirms the forecast from this morning.

Observed avalanche activity: No
Avalanches: Several old avalanches were observed. Some ran during the storm and some ran at the end of the storm. All were old.
Many cracks were observed on steeper slopes as well as low angle. We only heard one collapse during our hike.
Weather: Mostly clear, a few high clouds, strong solar radiation, no wind and estimated temp around 35
Snowpack: At the top of the skin track we found 100cm HS. 70 cm HST, 4-5 cm of sun or temp crust and 25 cm of facets. Surface hoar covered all aspects.

Photos:

5094


Dec. 13, 2021

Rumbling collapses

Date of Observation: 12/13/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Various aspects near Kebler Pass and Lake Irwin.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Nothing new. Documented a few older slides from the past cycle.
Weather: Few clouds. Moderate southwest winds at ridgetop with some light transport at times.
Snowpack: Primary goal today was to test the sensitivity of the persistent slab problem on shady aspects. Although it’s getting harder to produce signs of instability than earlier this week, the snowpack is still talking. I skinned over, then jumped with skis on, and then post-holed into four suspect low-angle slopes below treeline. One slope remained quiet, one produced a localized collapse when I skinned over a shallow, wind eroded feature, and two of them produced rumbling collapses after I stepped out of skis and sunk my boot into the weak layer. Slab depths in this area were 75 to 80 cm to the 12/6 facet layer.
Also dug into a southerly aspect near treeline to test bonding to the 12/6 crust. No alarming results and no signs of instability while traveling on southerly aspects.

Surface hoar growth observed below treeline.

Photos:

5093


Dec. 13, 2021

anthracites mush and wind board

Date of Observation: 12/13/2021
Name: Mark Robbins

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Up regular anthracites skinner to the saddle, skied off the southside a ways before aborting, skied out 7’s then down around the skin track

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: already reported by Zach K.
Weather: calm, sunny, warm
Snowpack: widespread surface hoar from 10,000′ to 10,500′ or so.
Skied south facing snow, descending from the saddle at 11,200′, at 11 am, which was a saturated sticky mess.
And the wind got into 7’s bowl, mixture of wind stiffened snow and supportive wind board.
No new signs of instability, just all the previously reported widespread avalanches and cracks.

Photos:

5092


Dec. 12, 2021

Large skier triggered slab on Irwin Westwall

Date of Observation: 12/12/2021
Name: Irwin Guides

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Thornton’s Glade

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: SS-ASc-R2/D2-G 70-100cm x 10-20m x 100m running on moist basal FC. West aspect NTL.
Triggered on an ~36 deg planar slope that harbored a nice swath of pre-12/6 FC.

5091


Dec. 12, 2021

Natural in the trees

Date of Observation: 12/12/2021

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Camo Glades

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Large slab in an opening in the trees ran a few days ago.

Photos:

5090


Dec. 12, 2021

Avie Debris and Settling, N side of Mt. Emmons

Date of Observation: 12/12/2021
Name: Frank Stern

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Gunsight Pass Road from Slate River to 9,500′

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Westernmost Climax Chute ran (D2), multiple D1 avalanches on 40 degree slopes on N aspects.
Weather: Sunny
Snowpack: About 70 cm snow, some settling, shooting cracks.

Photos:

5089


Dec. 12, 2021

Slides on Coney’s

Date of Observation: 12/12/2021
Name: Nick Couts

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Our party was starting at Wash gulch TH and crossing below coney’s proper to climb up the refill uptrack on the North end of coney’s. From there, crossing over Anthracite Mesa skiing the W aspect down and skinning back to Slate TH.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: From the North end of Coney’s we spotted a few slides. The first looked to be skier triggered just below the start of “first bowl” Maybe D1.5/2? It appears the slab propagated to skier left and ran along the adjacent rib. Based on the pair of tracks they appeared to have veered skiers left to dodge the debris. Further below two other smaller pockets had released on the convex nose where First Bowl and Convex Corner merge together. Possibly remote triggers from the four pairs of tracks coming down first bowl and convex corner.

Weather: Bluebird, moderate sustained W/NW wind at the top of the Coney’s/A Mesa.
Snowpack: On our route up, there was lots of whumpfing and shooting cracks, and once we got into the uptick saw loads of previous cracks and collapses, some smaller in the recent storm layer and some stepping down to the basal faceting. Our descent down the W side or A mesa saw no sign of recent avalanches or experience and whumpfing. Depth was ~75cm, top half of snowpack was about F and lower half to the ground was about 4F.

Photos:

5088


Dec. 12, 2021

Caution at Coney’s

Date of Observation: 12/12/2021
Name: Travis Colbert

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Up the standard skin track with a slight diversion at the ridge to evaluate untraveled snow for instabilities (see photo). Plenty of collapsing and cracking. I would still be very wary of avalanche terrain that has yet to avalanche. Steady SW wind adding a load to leeward fetches. Descended the northern edge of Friday’s remotely triggered D2, with a good collapse on a stomp turn just off the ridge. Soft, but slightly punchy, wind-affected snow for most of the run. Lots of shattering on isolated terrain features down low. 2mm surface hoar on shaded slopes.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Nothing that hasn’t been reported.

Photos:

5087


Dec. 12, 2021

Slides out the Slate

Date of Observation: 12/12/2021
Name: Lawson Yow

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Rode out slate to the bottom of the switchbacks

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Several EF ridgetop avalanches on skoog.
A big avy up on purple ridge (above purple palace)
A small, recent avy on a BTL NF shoulder of purple.
Weather: Cold n Clear. No wind
Snowpack: Storm snow starting to get heavier

Photos:

5086


Dec. 12, 2021

A few more undocumented avalanches from the cycle

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Ben Pritchett

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Ruby Range and Whetstone as viewed from town

Observed avalanche activity: Yes

Photos:

5085


Dec. 12, 2021

Anthracites

Date of Observation: 12/12/2021
Name: Zach Kinler

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Anthracites, standard up-track to the ridge

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: The slide lookers left in 7 bowls is quite impressive, propagating very widely on a slope that typically gets more scouring than loading. Debris was deep across the typical egress from 7 and blasted into the trees hitting the standard uptrack as well. Very active in the Playground area with most activity on these N and NE aspects breaking early in the cycle. Bed surfaces have largely filled back in and debris buffed smooth.
Weather: Perfect winter day, cold temps but abundant sunshine and little wind near and below treeline.
Snowpack: HS in Anthracites around 150 cm, we got a couple of collapses but overall somewhat quiet breaking trail on shady aspects below treeline. Many slopes 35 or greater have avalanched or shattered. On a SE aspect at 11,200, there was no old snow found with around 70 cm of settled storm snow on dirt. The surface was slightly moist while S aspects had a moist upper couple inches of snow. Small surface hoar and near-surface facets were noted in the shade.
Photos:

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5084


Dec. 12, 2021

Ride the sunny side

Date of Observation: 12/12/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Southeast/Northwest Mountains boundary
Route Description: Mount Emmons. Traveled mostly on S and SE aspects to 12,400′

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Adding a pile of previously undocumented naturals to the list from the recent cycle that fit the pattern of what we’ve been observing, see photos and details below. Most of the northeast side of Red Lady Bowl appeared to run and there were a handful of wind slabs that ran on the southeast portion of the bowl. I didn’t see any fresh avalanches from the past 24 hours.
Weather: Sunny, clear. Winds were strong enough to blow my #tired hat off my head, but luckily I retrieved it. Snow transport continues above treeline in exposed locations.
Snowpack: Our field objective today was to assess if the persistent slab problem should expand to the sunny aspects that held a crust (rather than dirt) before the storm. In short, I didn’t find evidence of persisting issues on the 12/6 crust where it is stout on sunny aspects. In a pit on a SE aspect NTL, long column tests produced no concerning results on the crust. The crust is pencil hard and goes to the ground where we dug. Above the crust, there are .3 to .5 mm rounding facets, 4F- (the 12/8 layer).
We traveled mostly on sunny slopes that were dirt before the storm with no signs of instability. As soon as we scooted into some low angle, shady terrain below treeline, we started getting collapses that would radiate to the nearest cluster of trees. These same slopes are developing small grained surface hoar and near-surface facets on the snow surface right now. Kicked at a few recent drifts at higher elevations with minimal cracking.

Photos:

5083


Dec. 11, 2021

Snodgrass shady avalanches

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Eric Murrow

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Standard up-track on Snodgrass and ridge walk towards Third Bowl.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: On the north side of Snodgrass, many steep, open features avalanched naturally during the storm. Some ran early with up to 16 inches of refill on bed surface and others failed late with 6 inches of refill.
Weather: Clear skies with cool temperatures and relatively light winds (I was below treeline for my tour, but did observe some drifting occurring above treeline on east, southeast, and south aspects)
Snowpack: On the north side of Snodgrass, snow depths were around 3 feet deep. Recent storm snow has settled to about 2 feet. Numerous muffled, small collapses while walking across low-angled slopes that had previously collapsed and shattered naturally during the storm. Several large, louder collapses while moving through low-angled northerly terrain without evidence of previous collapsing that traveled up to 100 feet. I dug one profile in a location with an intact snowpack and another on the bed surface of a natural avalanche that ran early in the storm. Northerly-facing slopes that have not avalanched remain very sensitive to the weight of a person.

Photos:

 

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Dec. 11, 2021

Did it snow?

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Harry V. L.

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Slate. Not very far. As it turns out, old sleds are not as good as new ones. To have enough money to buy a good snowmobile would be nice… Anyway, we went up Gunsight on a walkaround.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: We assumed that many of the recent activity in the alpine was drifted in and/ or filled back in with the last spurts of snow yesterday afternoon. However, we were confident there were many which had filled in and weren’t visible… On our little walk up Gunsight we were able to easily produce reactive results on anything and everything. Pretty much everything that was remotely steep enough to slide had already gone to ground, or at least fractured to ground. Luckily we found one switchback that was primed to go and it barely took the weight of a ski to send it to ground (see picture). Skied a few meadows on the descent and it was a symphony of whoomphs.
Weather: Cold. Car said -9 at around 9am. Upon return, car read 4 at 2pm. We observed flagging off everything above treeline all day. Obviously windy in the alpine, seeminly due west. No wind BTL on N.
Snowpack: Well, a lot of adjectives. We were walking on shady N facing aspects primarily… So, unsupportive, unconsolidated, noisy, reactive, etc. Ski pen was close to ground and boot pen was basically to ground… No surprises there.

Photos:

5081


Dec. 11, 2021

Formerly dry slopes

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: jeff banks

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: 9600-10,800

Observed avalanche activity: No
Avalanches:
Weather:
Snowpack: Dug on SSW-W-N aspects 9600-10,800

SSW-SW: Storm snow well bonded to the ground & itself, unreactive (HS 60cm, Fist to 4F, block sticks to leaves & grass when pried off)

W: Storm snow well bonded to thin crust on the ground, unreactive.

Shaded by Evergreens: Also well bonded to melt freeze crust. Occasionally, small, isolated pockets of facets and the storm slab was poorly bonded but small ski length cracks underfoot.

N: Wind loaded, shooting cracks traveling ~20 ft

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Dec. 11, 2021

More carnage to report…

Date of Observation: 12/12/2021
Name: Travis Colbert

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Went for peaceful ski on a flat forested trail where the only sounds were the frequent rolling collapses that would shake the snow from a tree 40 feet away and the gentle buzzing of faraway two-strokes at the Kebler trailhead. The high point of my tour was a portal to a much different world. Most of the terrain above Green Lake had slid, taking out much of the season’s snowpack. Tread carefully out there!

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Photos:

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Dec. 11, 2021

All Natural

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Toured a south/southwest face in the northwest mountains. Snow was wind effected at all elevations. Ski pen was about boot top on the ski up. No signs of instability on our ski but we did not venture into any shady or north aspects.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Widespread avalanches, mostly on north and east aspects. Most interesting was a fairly large avalanche at the top of the Pittsburg Rollers. Purple ridge had avalanches everywhere.
Weather: sunny, windy. moderate winds BTL higher winds ATL
Snowpack: Wind effected at all elevations

Photos:

5078


Dec. 11, 2021

Brush Creek, Double Top

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Evan Ross

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Huge thanks to West Elk Air for getting the CBAC team views of the carnage. These photos are from Brush Creek area

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: The avalanche activity was much harder to see in the SE Mountains, compared to the NW Mountains. The avalanche activity in the SE Mountains was less widespread, smaller in size, and often hidden by wind-loading or additional snow after the storm.

The primary avalanche activity was on NE at all elevations. East, had activity at near and above treeline elevations and some suspicious-looking slopes below treeline but nothing that could be confirmed at that elevation.

South had activity above treeline, but again far less than the NW Mountains. I suspect that was to do with more south-facing slopes in this area having been dry before this storm.

West and North aspects were well shaded. If there was avalanche activity on those aspects, it couldn’t be confirmed on this flight.

Photos:

 

5077


Dec. 11, 2021

Climax, Happy chutes. Snodgrass, Coon Bowl

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Evan Ross

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Huge thanks to West Elk Air for getting the CBAC team views of the carnage. These photos are from the Mt. Emmons and Snodgrass area.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: The avalanche activity was much harder to see in the SE Mountains, compared to the NW Mountains. The avalanche activity in the SE Mountains was less widespread, smaller in size, and often hidden by wind-loading or additional snow after the storm.

The primary avalanche activity was on NE at all elevations. East, had activity at near and above treeline elevations and some suspicious-looking slopes below treeline but nothing that could be confirmed at that elevation.

South had activity above treeline, but again far less than the NW Mountains. I suspect that was to do with more south-facing slopes in this area having been dry before this storm.

West and North aspects were well shaded. If there was avalanche activity on those aspects, it couldn’t be confirmed on this flight.
Weather:
Snowpack:

Photos:

5076


Dec. 11, 2021

Axtell avalanche activity

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Ben Pritchett

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Axtell as viewed from town

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Couldn’t see 1st bowl well, but a few small ones below the skiers’ left cliffs. 2nd Bowl had broad-spanning soft slabs connecting the start zones a couple hundred feet below the ridgeline. Eraser and Pencil start zones both went, also well below ridgeline. That pocket feature between Wang Chung and 4th bowl went broadly. 4th bowl went R3, stopped just before the Shield. Green Lake Bowl from near the Eraser through the middle of the cliffs, looked early, kinda filled in. At least two of the Green Lake Chutes ran to the apron.

Photos:

5074


Dec. 11, 2021

A few more large slides in the Northwest Mountains

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Various from Axtell, Copper Creek, Peeler Basin, etc

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: See photos.

Photos:

5073


Dec. 11, 2021

Slate River Cycle

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Huge thanks to West Elk Air for getting the CBAC team views of the carnage.  These photos are from the Slate River Drainage from Purple Palace to Schuykill Ridge

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Too many to count on the shady side of the basin. Lots of activity at all elevations, overlapping debris piles and evidence from early slide activity was obscured by subsequent snowfall. See photos.

Photos:

5072


Dec. 11, 2021

Cycle near Paradise Divide

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Huge thanks to West Elk Air for getting the CBAC team views of the carnage. These photos are from the Northern Ruby Range and Paradise Divide Area

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Widespread activity on various aspects N and ATL near Paradise Divide. See photos.

Photos:

5071


Dec. 11, 2021

Widespread Cycle in Ruby Range

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Huge thanks to West Elk Air for getting the CBAC team views of the carnage. These photos are from the Ruby Range.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Widespread large avalanches on most aspects above treeline. The most activity was on leeward aspects (NE, E, and SE).

Photos:

5070


Dec. 11, 2021

Slides in Anthracites and Beckwiths

Date of Observation: 12/11/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Anthracite Range and East Beckwith

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: A handful of D1 to D2 slabs, various aspects. See photos

Photos:

5069


Dec. 10, 2021

Slides everywhere on northerlies

Date of Observation: 12/10/2021
Name: Zach Guy

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Lower Slate, Lower Oh-Be-Joyful. Traveled on NE, SE, and S aspects to 10,700 ft.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Nearly every northerly facing avalanche slope that we were close enough to have good views of slid naturally overnight. Where we traveled, most of the terrain was relatively small and slides were D1 to D1.5, one D2. It appears most of Climax Chutes also ran, generally D1.5 to D2.
Weather: Light snowfall through most of the day, with a couple of brief pulses of moderate snowfall. Gusty northwest winds in the afternoon were blowing snow at all elevations. Cold temps.
Snowpack: Widespread collapsing on northerly aspects; some muffled, some rumbling. Shooting cracks on many slopes. The only steep terrain that we felt comfortable traveling on, and without signs of instability, were recent bed surfaces, low elevation southerlies (which were previously bare and without fresh drifting), and dense trees. About 2 to 3 feet of storm snow.
Did this cycle flush the basal facets? In the bedsurfaces that we traveled on, there was a crust or roughed up stiff layer on the sliding interface, with more weak facets below. Enough to provide some structure for modest loading, but I don’t think we’re out of the woods because there are still weak layers hanging on. Time will tell, but I think this cycle only shaved off the top half of our weak layer where we traveled.

Photos:

5068


Dec. 10, 2021

Coney Island instability tour

Date of Observation: 12/10/2021
Name: David Bumgarner

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: We thought by leaving later that someone would put in the skin track but ended up getting a great workout putting it in ourselves!
We went up the usual skin track in the forest and saw a large amount of instability (huge shooting cracks and lots of collapses).

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: We got out to the ridge and skied close to the trees between convex corner and 1st bowl. We had lots of cracks near the top (Photo) and remotely triggered a D2 slide in 1st bowl (photo).
Weather: Overcast throughout our tour. periods of light snow (S1).
Snowpack: Sketchy! New snow needs to settle just to feel less punchy.

Photos:

5067


Dec. 10, 2021

Kebler Pass Storm obs

Date of Observation: 12/10/2021
Name: Eric Murrow Ben Pritchett

Zone: Northwest Mountains
Route Description: Kebler Pass

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: Observed one natural soft slab avalanche on a northwest-facing slope at 10,150′. Visibility was socked in, so very little opportunities to see recent avalanche activity.
Weather:

  • Ridgeline Wind Speed: 20-30 mph
  • Ridgeline Wind Direction: W
  • Wind Loading: Moderate
  • Temperature: 12 F
  • Sky Cover: Obscured
  • Depth of New Snow: 27 in
  • Depth of Total Snow: 51 in
  • Most Significant Precip Rate: S2 – 2 cm/hr
  • Weather Description: One brief bit of broken skies around 10am, then it socked back in. Snowed S1-3 throughout the day without any breaks from 10am-3pm. Measured 51″ of storms snow which held 4.5″ snow water equivalent at Kebler Pass.

One brief bit of broken skies around 10am, then it socked back in. Snowed S1-3 throughout the day without any breaks from 10am-3pm. Measured 51″ of storms snow which held 4.5″ snow water equivalent at Kebler Pass.
Snowpack: Very deep, right-side-up storm resting on a very weak faceted base. Collapsing was rampant, but muffled. No cracking seen. ECT’s broke while isolating the block on size 10-15mm surface hoar, then gouged into facets.

Photos:

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5066


Dec. 10, 2021

Weak over Very Weak

Date of Observation: 12/10/2021
Name: Alex Banas

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Standard Uptrack for Coneys. Descended the first treed ridge in Coneys propper.

Observed avalanche activity: Yes
Avalanches: SS-ASc-D1-I
SS-ASy-D2-I
Weather: OVC skies, moderate down valley westerly winds, cold. H2D 5cm HST 70-100cm elevation dependent.
Snowpack: Widespread cracking and collapsing up to 20m infront of skis. 15-30cm of large-grained facets sitting below 70-100cm HST, Increasing with elevation. In the basal facets there looks to be a deteriorating 1cm MFcr that is faceting out. No mid-storm instabilities observed.

5065


Dec. 10, 2021

snodgrass shooting cracks

Date of Observation: 12/10/2021
Name: jeff banks

Zone: Southeast Mountains
Route Description: Snodgrass up track & some <30º shots in the glades

Observed avalanche activity: No
Avalanches:
Weather: 18F dropped to 15F during midday tour
Snowpack: Shady Aspects: Can’t move without shooting cracks, HS ~80-100cm,

Sunny Aspects: No Signs of Instability, HST ~60cm, From the surface it’s F resistance to 4F at the ground, 4 Distinct Layers (Dry/Moist/Dry/Moist) Un-reactive on small slopes 30-43º

5064