Observation Date: 01/20/2014
Skied extensively around Bass lake in the north central Bitterroot for three days 1/18 – 1/20. Skied on all aspects between 6,000 and 8,500 feet.
New Snow: No New Snow
Extensive natural avalanche activity on all wind loaded aspects from the 1/11 storm.
During the long approach to Bass lake, we saw quite a few large old crowns on steep wind loaded terrain, presumably from the 1/11 wind/storm event. Most notable were crowns on the western edge of the west Lappi bowl, extensive debris in one of the big south facing avalanche paths on St. Joseph peak, and a large slab crown and debris pile in “Party in the couloir” on the south side of Stormy Joe (the prominent peak north of Bass lake). We also saw two large climax glide avalanches and associated debris near Bass lake.
We did not see or hear cracking or collapsing of obvious signs of surface instability, and skied steep terrain on all aspects. We shy away from big, exposed wind loaded terrain. We dug two pits on wind affected west facing terrain, and had failures in recently wind transported snow (CT10, Q1 @ 15 cm), and stubborn failures, probably on a thin layer of facets at the base of the 1/11 storm snow (ECT30N @ 40 cm). We dug an additional pit on wind loaded east facing terrain at 8,000 feet, and had stable results (CT30+ Q2 at 30 cm). We did not dig a pit on south facing terrain, but the surface snow was in a springlike melt/freeze corn cycle, and it felt more stable.
Observer: Brian Story