Observation: Horseshoe Mountain

Observation Date
Observer Name
John Pikus
Location Name or Route
Canal Canyon to Horseshoe Mountain
Light Snowfall
Wind Speed
Weather Comments
Cloudy with very light, scattered snow showers throughout the day. Visibility was in and out throughout the day above 10,000 feet. Sun did try to break through a couple times but was for the most part unsuccessful. Felt like no wind at all in sheltered areas and below 9,500 and only very light winds above that.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
New Snow Density
Snow Surface Conditions
Snow Characteristics Comments
Snow has settled to about a foot of low density powder. Cloudy skies, light winds and continued light snowfall have preserved the powder very well thus far. At some point winds were strong enough to scour and cross-load west facing slopes above 10,000 feet but there was still 3-6 inches of low density fluff on top of wind crust in these areas.
Red Flags
Red Flags
Wind Loading
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Decreasing Danger
Problem #1 Comments
At about 10,600 feet I was noticing some cross-loading on West facing slopes. Got two small, soft windslabs to crack out while skinning up a slight gully feature but they didn't go anywhere, probably due to the low slope angle. Would be more worried about this problem on high elevation north and east facing slopes where drifts could be deeper. Didn't think that this was a major problem today but there will be plenty of snow available for transport if/when winds pick up.
Toured from Canal Canyon to the summit of Horseshoe, traveling over slopes of all aspects but predominantly west, north, and northeast. Elevations from 6,800 to 11,000. Excellent ski conditions down to 8,000 feet and no major instabilities were observed. I did get a decent look at the Little Horseshoe bowl, one small crown line was visible (see photo below.) Tried to get a look into the Big Horseshoe but cornices and low visibility prevented me from getting a really good look. South facing did get a little crusty today at around 9,000 feet. Snow was getting wet and sloppy during my exit on the canyon floor, at elevations below 8,000 feet (around 4pm.) No wet avalanche activity or rollerballs were visible though.
Photos 1&2: The Little Horsehoe Bowl. Arrow points to crown line but it is hard to see in photo. I'm guessing it was either a windslab during the storm or just part of an old crown line that hasn't completely been filled in yet. No new debris piles were visible at the base so I'm guessing that nothing major came down here during this storm cycle.
Photo 3: Quick pit I dug, West facing, 10,100 ft, 35 degree slope angle. Looks like most density inversions within the storm snow have settled out. Still seems like density is a little lower at the bottom of the storm snow but I don't think this is a major problem. Did do a quick compression test, got a result of CTM15 on the interface between the old snow and the storm snow, about 30cm down. 
Photo 4: Shallow windslab that cracked out at my feet while skinning up. West facing, 10,600 elevation.
Photo 5: Looking into the Big Horseshoe Bowl.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating

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