Observation Date: 03/16/2014
Saturday 3/15 – South facing peak to creek runs behind Glenn Lake and on Hidden peak in Sweathouse Creek, North facing peak to creek run into Bear Creek from Glenn Lake.
Sunday 3/16 – Up Nipple knob between Mill and Sheafman creeks. Down north to Sheafman, up Castle Crag via a combination of the Northeast shoulder and South face. Down South face of Castle Crag.
Mostly Sunny, with wind, especially on Friday night during the precipitation event. New snow amounts increasing from an inch at 6,500 feet to 8 inches along the divide at 9,000 feet.
New Snow: 3-6″
I was finally able to get out into the Bitterroot and get a better sense of the snowpack. Both days, we were able to see the aftermath of a large avalance cycle, presumably from early last week. The avalanches were a combination of large wet slides below rain line during the warm/rain event, several full track wet slides in South facing avalanche paths, and extensive deep hard slab avalanches, with crowns as deep as 5 feet and entraining multiple full avalanche starting zones and running full track. Large crowns included: Gash point North bowl, Entire Gash proper North bowl, running most of the way to the creek, Castle crag – majority of the east and north cirque below the cliffs at the bast of the peak. In addition, glide cracks are finally opening up, and we saw evidence of at least one large glide crack avalanche directly above Knack lake in Sheafman creek.
Friday night’s snow came in with a lot of wind out of the Southwest, and 8″ – 16″ slabs were present on north and east facing starting zones. We dug a quick pit down to 24″ on a wind loaded, north facing, 30 degree slope at about 7,800 feet in Sheafman creek on Sunday, and did not find reactive results at the new snow interface at 14″. However, I was getting shooting cracks in new slabs on Friday, Saturday, and to a lesser extent on Sunday, and we had to modify our plans both days to avoid the wind slabs. In addition to new wind slabs, the snow has not consolidated considerably on shaded terrain above 7,000 feet – it still very much felt like a winter snowpack.
Snow on South and West facing terrain was much more consolidated. Aside from avoiding wind loaded pockets in starting zones, we felt confident skiing steep and exposed terrian on south facing aspects both days. It did not warm up enough to produce any wet slide activity either day.
Observer: Brian Story