Observation: X-mas Trees

Observation Date
12/1/2018
Observer Name
Brett Kobernik
Region
Skyline
Location Name or Route
Spring City Canyon
Red Flags
Red Flags
Cracking
Collapsing
Poor Snowpack Structure
Red Flags Comments
I experienced numerous LARGE collapses while breaking trail today. I bumped into some other skiers who had approached the same spot from an opposite ridge and they confirmed that they experienced the same thing.
Avalanche Problem #1
Problem
Persistent Weak Layer
Trend
Increasing Danger
Problem #1 Comments
I haven't been able to get into the more northerly facing terrain since the series of storms started on Thanksgiving.  I'm happy to report that it was too deep for easy travel today and I was not able to look at as many slopes as I'd hoped.  I'm not happy to report that I was able to get to a few slopes and was able to confirm my fears.  The old snow from Oct and early Nov is faceted and is now collapsing under the weight of the new snow plus a human trigger.  I experienced some collapsing in areas where there was only a few inches of this old faceted snow which kind of surprised me.
The take home is that it's suicidal to get onto any steep northwest, north and northeast facing slopes above 9500'.  East facing may be semi-suspect as well.  I'll get a better handle on that over the next few days.  Basically, stay off any slope where you find old sugary snow near the ground.
This stuff will most likely settle out eventually and won't pose a threat all winter.  The more storms we get, the faster this will happen but it's going to be a little while until we see these slopes stabilize.
Snow Profile
Aspect
Northwest
Elevation
9,900'
Slope Angle
30°
Comments
Above is a snowpit profile.  The top two layers are the snow since Thanksgiving.  The bottom three layers are facets, a heat crust from late Oct/early Nov, and more facets below that.  Not a good setup.
The avalanche danger may reach HIGH on Sunday depending on how this next storm system shakes out.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Considerable
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
High

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