Mark Staples and A. McClean
Location Name or Route
White Pine drainage
We climbed up the NW ridge on Red Top Mtn in the White Pine drainage. This ridge separates the Birthday Chutes and Tri-Chutes. We looked at snow on NW facing and W facing.
- NW facing is bad. It has an obvious layer of weak facets about a foot thick at the ground. This layer produced a massive collapse when I stepped out of my skis. This collapse shook small trees about 50 feet away. If we had been on a steeper slope we would have triggered an avalanche.
- We had one smaller collapse on a W facing slope near trees. This spot had weak, sugary facets at the ground because it is shaded by a line of trees.
- Other places on a W aspect had thinner snow and no weak layer.
- I was very nervous about making any mistake with our terrain choices and we skied back down our skin track. Misjudging the layering in the snowpack under our feet or misjudging the aspect of a slope can have fatal consequences.
- The safest options are skiing low angle slopes (less than 30 degrees in steepness) or skiing slopes that face south.
The GOOD NEWS - at 9400 feet there was about 4 feet of snow. This is great coverage. Hopefully it keeps snowing.
Images below are a snow profile on a NW facing slope at 9465 feet where we got the massive collapse. The second photo is the pit wall.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating