Observation Date: 01/14/2017
Approached from lower Gash Creek trail head and followed Gash Creek eventually gaining ridge top at 46°25’9.28″N 114°18’20.65″W at 8422 ft.
Sunny and warm. Light wind from the northwest above 8100 ft.
Light wind from the northwest above 8100 ft. Evidence of cross loading in the area at and above this elevation.
New Snow: No New Snow
Observed small point releases and pinwheels beneath rock structures at or near ridge line. Identified soft shallow wind slabs from cross loading during ascent near ridge line above 8100 ft. Able to easily fracture these soft slabs while skinning upward. Continued up, avoiding wind loaded aspects and slabs. Triggered small wind slab (1 ft deep, 10 ft wide, ran 10 ft) during accidental deviation from planned descent line (Went straight when I should have turned left. Was five yards or less from pre-planned safest descent). Fortunately, it was an inconsequential error, but bulls eye information that wind slabs were present and easily triggered.
Dug a snow pit at 46°25’11.49″N 114°17’44.69″W at 7257 ft. Slope angle was 29° with a NE aspect. Snow depth was 195 cm. Compression test resulted in CT 17 at 30 cm beneath the surface and CT 27 at 36 cm. Extended column was ECTN 20 Q3 at 30 cm beneath the surface. Snow below 36 cm was dense and well bonded all the way to the basal layer. Basal layer felt and appeared to be strong and well bonded.
Based on these results we continued upward to our high point on the ridge, but avoided exposure to slopes greater than 35° during our ascent and descent. On our way up, we rechecked the weakness at 30 cm in a previously dug snow pit at 8150 ft with two quick CTs. Results were similar to the first snow pit.
Observer: Charles Bolte