Avalanche: Upper Meadow Chutes

Observer Name
tom diegel
Observation Date
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Avalanche Date
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Region
Upper Meadow Chutes
Location Name or Route
Silver Fork Meadows
Elevation
8,600'
Aspect
East
Slope Angle
36°
Trigger
Skier
Trigger: additional info
Unintentionally Triggered
Avalanche Type
Wet Slab
Avalanche Problem
New Snow
Weak Layer
New Snow
Depth
8"
Width
40'
Vertical
250'
Comments
It was snowing harder than we anticipated this morning but hadn't stacked up too much and we were still scratching slightly on underlying crust.  Given the warmish temps we anticipated a pretty good bond to the old crust, there hadn't been any wind loading to the SF ridgeline, there had only been about 48 seconds of sun between warm snow squalls, and we hadn't seen any rollerballing yet, so we were not on high alert.  However, the bottom third of the Meadows where it rolls over is always worthy of respect, so I stopped on a prow between two "chutes" just before it rolled over steep to spot my partner. She went into one of the chutes and skied it pretty hard and I saw it fracture up the other side and start to move relatively slowly (since it was wet).  I hollered and she immediately arced out of the fall line and towards bushes and lower angle terrain while the slide rumbled down the fall line.  She was able to safely descend the rest of the way.  As always with wet slides it started out as sort of a ponderous beast but quickly gained speed and entrained enough snow that it would be a bummer to get caught in it and the debris was a couple/few feet deep.  
 
From my safe perch I did one turn onto the steeper slope below to start the pushalanche and as anticipated it ran as well, propagating laterally maybe 20ish feet to either side of me.  I waited for that to run down to the flats then descended on the bed surface down to where the slope angle lessened then arced back into the untracked, but a whoop from my pard indicated that I should hit the gas because it wasn't quite low-angle enough.   I was close enough to the lower-angle terrain where the adjacent debris pile was that my straightline took me quickly into the flats.  
 
We were able to do more skiing on nearby terrain (the skin line) with a similar aspect that had a more consistent lower angle and had a nice time.  
 
No pics since the light was so bad, but shoulda shot them anyway, and video too.  Sorry UAC...
 
A good reminder of a few things:
1.  spring means there's lots of fairly quick changes in conditions that can be dramatic, so as Trent put it so well this morning:  you kinda need to be your own forecaster when things do indeed change or the forecast (which I think gets trickier in the spring) doesn't quite match up with what's happening. 
 
2.  We aren't big "whoooo!"ers (the way the folks across the valley at Solitude were this morning) and always withstand the urge to "whooo!" to our pards when they are slaying great powder, saving shouts for safety or whoops to keep track of each other in the woods.  This proved handy today, because the instant my pard heard me she knew something was up and took immediate evasive action.  
 
3.  Spring wet slides can be mitigated somewhat because they (seem to me) to be usually started by your skis and don't seem to (typically?) propogate too far.  Therefore, it's handy to be willing and able to move out of the fall line either gradually or swiftly keep you from getting caught in your own slide that is chasing straight down after you.  

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