Observation Date: 01/18/2019
Stayed the weekend at Yurtski, lapped slopes below Morrell Mt Lookout.
1/18 – 1/20: 20+ cm new snow and actively snowing upon arrival at the yurt Friday. Sun never came out all weekend and it snowed on and off (at times heavily) Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Temps in the upper 20F to Low 30F. Visibility was poor for most of the weekend. Sunday the clouds lifted enough to see prominent cornices formed on East side of the ridge.
1/18: Calm on Friday.
1/19: Saturday the wind picked up and we observed lots of new snow blowing and drifting above 7000′ – wind out of the west, loading up east facing slopes. We found small wind slabs just below the ridge on East facing slopes. Wind drifts filled in parts of our skin track near the lookout tower and drifted in the access road just uphill of the Alpine Yurt.
1/20: Wind was blowing again but out of the East. We observed snow being transported from East facing slopes to West facing slopes at the lookout tower (7800′).
New Snow: 12+”
We did not see any avalanche activity. We did observe small wind slabs forming just off the ridge below the Morrell Mt. lookout tower on east facing slopes. Snow depth was variable with SE facing slopes approximately 100cm deep and more sheltered E/NE facing slopes closer to 120 cm. New snow fell on a melt/freeze crust on SE slopes and was reactive (ECTP 20) in pits – unreactive in pits that lacked this crust. In shallower spots, there is a density change mid snowpack that failed w/o propagation (ECTN 22). This layer also took quite a bit of force for it to fail (w/o propagation) in deeper snowpack.
Shallow spots in the snowpack had approxomately 20cm of large grain depth hoar that failed with moderate force – we did not get this layer to propagate.
Overall snowpack structure is pretty rotten in shallow spots – moderately better where the snow was deeper and didn’t have the melt/freeze crust. The wind was actively transporting snow Saturday and Sunday and loading east and west facing slopes.
With the increase in wind, over a foot of new snow adding weight to the snowpack, variable snowpack depth, and rotten structure; things are pretty spooky out there. We intentionally avoided SE and S facing slopes, start zones, runouts, and terrain adjacent to this suspect terrain. We stayed entirely on E/NE facing slopes with a deeper snowpack all weekend and skied slope angles 30-32 degrees. We found great powder skiing in low angle trees.
Observer: Matt Radlowski