Observation Date: 02/20/2016
Saturday (2/20): Elevations between 6,000-7,800ft on west and north aspects in the Brushy Fork.
Sunday (2/21): Elevations between 7,000-8,000 on north and east aspects in the Rattlesnake behind MT Snowbowl.
Saturday (2/20): Mostly cloudy with temps in the teens to low twenties. Partly sunny towards the end of the day with decreasing winds as the low front passed.
Sunday (2/21): Sunny and calm. Temps in the low twenties and rising quickly. Snow surface on solar aspects effected by 11am.
Saturday (2/20): 10-15 WSW with gusts to 25. Decreasing throughout the day.
Sunday (2/21): Calm…light winds from the west.
New Snow: 6-12″
Saturday(2/20): Intentional cornice drop triggered a size 2, soft slab on a 35-38 degree east facing slope that propagated significantly more than anticipated. Alpine terrain recently wind loaded with 10-16″ soft slabs. Treeline and below has minimal wind effected snow. Minor shooting cracks with ski cuts and no settlements. A stout “Moderate” avalanche hazard and we chose terrain accordingly.
Sunday (2/21): Triggered a 14-16″ size 1.5 soft slab avalanche without surprise on a short, steep unsupported terrain feature on a due north aspect in Murphy Bowl. Slab observed in pit was failing in compression with moderate force…no propagation. Observed a moderate size debris field coming off “Three Tears” on our ski out…suspect someone else found a sensitive storm slab as well. Solar aspects were warming quickly. Minimal surface hoar formation observed after a cold, clear night. Avalanche hazard was still pegged at a solid Moderate.
The snowpack was trending towards stability over these two days but isolated terrain features still retained considerable hazard and needed another 24-48 hours. Conservative terrain selection and travel routes easily mitigated this hazard. Great skiing on the north side of the compass.
Observer: Jeff Schmalenberg