Avalanche: West Scotties

Observer Name
John Lemnotis
Observation Date
Thursday, February 15, 2024
Avalanche Date
Thursday, February 15, 2024
Salt Lake » Little Cottonwood Canyon » White Pine » West Scotties
Location Name or Route
W Scotties (ish)
Slope Angle
Trigger: additional info
Intentionally Triggered
Avalanche Type
Soft Slab
Avalanche Problem
New Snow
Weak Layer
New Snow/Old Snow Interface
The new/old interface was reactive today, more so with slabs than sluffs. Cracking was not widespread while skinning up as the crust that was present about 6-10" down was inconsistent depending on tree coverage and aspect changes. Hand pits were inconsistant as well. Some yielded slab formation with graupel present while others mimicked the makings of a powder day. On a test slope on the way up I did get some good cracking with a small jump and I have linked that below.
On the way down the slope that we rode there are a couple of sections approaching 40 degrees. This being the steepest terrain it would be where we would trigger a slide if the snow wasn't behaving today. A ski cut gave way to some cracking initially but no slide. After a stop and a plan to make a quick jump turn and give it a little more umph a soft slab released at the steepest point on the slope that measured 40 degrees. The failure plane was the N/O interface and in this location consisted of a 1cm MF (melt freeze) crust from the sunny days prior to the recent snow. I tried without success to trigger similar slides in less steep locations on the run. After skiing the run twice I released 3 small pockets all of similar size and slope angle. Two of the 3 were right next to each other and triggered on separate runs so the snow was not propagating across the entirety of the steepest terrain that we were in. Photo 1 is of the initial cut where I stopped and photo 2 is the crown from below.
I would be cautious in steep terrain and allow the new snow some time to bond, avoid sustained avalanche terrain, avalanche terrain with terrain traps, and if you ever choose to try to "manage" the terrain always know that you could be wrong and you could take a ride... I encourage us all to think about this, myself included.