Observation Date: 01/23/2016
McCalla lake, over McCalla/South bowl toward Heavenly Twins and Big Creek. Skied runs on SW, N, SE and E aspects.
We spent Saturday skiing all over the south shoulder of St. Mary peak. We did not observe natural avalanche activity aside from roller ball activity below 7,000 feet associated with the Friday/Saturday warm front.
We dug a pit in the south bowl around 8,500 feet, NE facing, moderately wind loaded, 25 deg pitch. Pit results were: ECTN 15 40 cm on a soft slab interface. ECTN ~25 70ish cm on the New Year dry spell interface (no facets observed).
Our conclusion was that there were still deeper layers of concern, but triggering them was improbable but possible. We avoided steep wind loaded terrain but felt OK on steeper solar and windward aspects. Warm weather on Thurs – Sat. has helped stabilize the snowpack below approximately 7,000 feet.
Notes: This obs was prior to Sunday 12/24 new snow and wind. Also, our pit was above the upper elevation of facets and surface hoar at the end of the New Year’s dry spell (~7,000 feet).
Observer: St. Mary peak – Bitterroot Brian Story