Observation Date: 03/23/2014
We chose a route up gash creek and then proceeded across several benches and minor ridges to the base of the skin route up the ridge to the commonly skied East facing bowl. We dug a pit on an East aspect at the base of this skin track.
The weather was extremely variable, alternating between bright and sunny, heavy snow fall, high winds and clam and overcast. Little snow actually accumulated, but a lot of snow was moving around today. In some places our skin track was blown in within minutes, while other segments could be seen at the end of the day. The snow reflected the extremes with pockets of powder mixed with wind crust, ice, corn, dust on crust, and dust on corn.
New Snow: 0-3″
The snow was highly variable, but our East aspect pit led us to believe that the dangerous pockets were very dangerous. Many places felt solid, especially those areas that have been through a freeze thaw cycle with only a dusting on top. However, many areas had localized collapsing (underfoot) or felt slightly hollow.
In many places new snow and hardened wind slabs were not bonding to snow below that had gone through a freeze thaw cycle. We saw 6 or more natural point release avalanches that had released around rocks on steep slopes and had not yet been filled back in by the strong winds. Our CT test showed that 2 such layers failed with a Q2 shear at CT 3 and CT 12 respectively taking 20 cm of heavy snow with each failure.
A layer of loose snow ~60 cm deep between 2 ice crusts failed at CT 16 Q2. This layer also failed at ECT 18 Q2 with FULL PROPAGATION.
At Downing Mountain lodge last week we saw a similar deep layer in all of our pits, but had difficulty breaking it, and had NO propagation in ECT and good PST scores. We were surprised by the conditions today, both the weather and the snow, but found great skiing in low angle trees.
Observer: Greg Cohn