Avalanche: Cutler Ridge

Observation Date
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Avalanche Date
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Cutler Ridge
Location Name or Route
Between Culter Ridge and Cold Canyon
Slope Angle
Trigger: additional info
Intentionally Triggered
Avalanche Type
Hard Slab
Avalanche Problem
Wind Drifted Snow
Weak Layer
Sorry no photos. Intentionally triggered a hard slab on a regular repeater that top loads with southwesterly winds. It's located in an area that has mellow terrain above and then breaks over onto steeper slopes with trees, brush and terrain traps below. I rarely dive into this breakover without a slopecut because that's the way I usually hike back out since it's the least exposed compared to other alternatives. That paid off today. Slope cut was made at speed from skier's left to right to an island of safety on a shallow angle ridge. Slope propagated out after second downweighting during slope cut. Watched the slide from the island of safety where it slowed and then stopped in shallower terrain. Continued boarding down another 300 vertical and then hiked back up to inspect the slide. Hard slab was 1Finger to pencil hardness. The slab propagated up slope pulling out shallower terrain above, 29 degrees. Tried to isolate a column. Column broke on backcut, quality 1, sudden planar failing on rounding facets just below 4 finger hardness, 1 inch thick rime crust. Snowpack was 18-24 inches total depth with one foot deep hard surface slab sitting on rime crust which was underlain by facets and then depth hoar. As the forecaster said, low danger does not mean no danger. Southwest winds were moderate today with some strong gusts. Snow was being transported. Sky was partly cloudy. Temps were comfortable. Inversion was still present with colder temps at low elevation. Riding conditions were variable and challenging with most of the mid and upper elevations windjacked and containing wind crust, wind slab, melt/freeze crust, sun crust, and wind board with occasional patches of recrystallized powder in the lower brushy elevations.

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