Observation Date: 01/07/2017
Up Gash Point (proper), down to Bear Lake. Skied NF Sky Pilot and a S. Facing run directly above Bear Lake. Out to Gash and to the car.
New Snow: No New Snow
Out for a long day in the mountains the day before the beginning of the January 8 storm cycle and made a few observations. We saw an old crown on the E. face of Sky Pilot (perhaps from wind loading during the week of January 1-8), and skinned through very old debris from steep SE facing terrain above Bear lake, which probably ran during a natural cycle in December. No recent avalanche activity. We broke a lot of trail and did not get any collapsing all day. Throughout the day, we were getting shooting cracks, limited to the top 2″ of snow from wind loading in the past day or two.
We dug a quick pit on an E. facing aspect, below sky pilot, 7,500 feet wind loaded. Pit results were CT12Q2 at 20cm, and CT15Q2 at 40 cm. Surprised by the clean shears in the pit, we dug a second pit at the base of the critical wind slab on the N face of Sky Pilot at 8,000 ft, N. facing, wind loaded. Pit results were ECTN25 and CT20Q2 at 45 cm, ECTN 30+ at 55 cm, and at around 80cm. Total snow depth in excess of our probes.
Without propagation in either the ECT and CT tests, coupled with other signs of stability, we ascended and skied the N face with caution, but would have backed off large exposed E to SE starting zones.
We were out at the end of the extended cold cycle, and were pleasantly surprised to not see any surface hoar development, and very limited snow surface faceting/weakening as a result of the extended period of cold temps.
Driving beta for Gash: We parked at the end of the plowing about 1.5 mi from the lower trailhead. Several small parking spots are available. Do not plan on driving farther unless you have a full on tricked out mountain vehicle.
Observer: BRIAN STORY