Observation Date: 11/24/2014
Northern Bitterroots. Carlton ridge, down to the lake, then a lap on the shoulder of Carlton Peak.
We caught the tail end of the weekend’s storm system. The day started with strong gusts out of the west(~40-50mph), cold temperatures,and a cloud deck around 9000′ with brief periods of clearing. Overcast the remainder of the day, although a brake in the wind, and a lift in the cloud deck came from 14:00 to 16:00. Then round two came, with warmer temperatures, light to moderate westerly winds and heavy snowfall. These conditions persisted until we left.
Evidence of intense wind loading over the past 24hr, wind slabs on N, S, and E aspects.
New Snow: 3-6″
There was a 15-30cm wind or storm snow slab on N, S, and E aspects, but my main concern was what was buried under this slab. Facets. The slab varied in thickness, and sensitivity depending on how wind affected it was, but the facets were widespread on all aspects not scoured. Once buried by this weeks storm the weak layer will be tough to notice without a quick pit. Bottom line is that the early season snowpack has poor structure, with a now buried weak layer that will need to be assessed on a regular basis. The good news is that our stability tests showed the deeper, previous weak layers, are starting to gain strength. No avalanche activity observed today.
Observed Danger Rating:
Starting to develop a decent base for skiing above 7000′. Road to trailhead was icy, and able to skin form car.
Observer: Blake Votilla