Observation: Collins Gulch

Observation Date
10/20/2019
Observer Name
Peter Donner
Region
Salt Lake
Location Name or Route
Alta Collins Gulch
Red Flags
Red Flags
Recent Avalanches
Heavy Snowfall
Wind Loading
Cracking
Poor Snowpack Structure
Comments
First, thanks to Alta for allowing uphill traffic.
Good to be back on skis making turns--not bad for mid/late October. Did two runs in Collins Gulch on low angle grassy slopes and just nicked a rock or two, nothing serious. Lots of people out skiing, boarding, hiking, having fun and smiling.
Despite the Collins snowstake currently (10/20 3pm) reporting 23 inches, seemed more like an honest foot probably more. It was reporting 4 inches before the storm. 18 inches in wind sheltered locations seems possible. Winds were mild during the day, but there was lots of wind drifted snow, which makes sense given the Germ Pass station reported gusts to 60mp at 1am 10/20. Basically floated on top of pretty dense snow, which helped to avoid rocks.
Storm cycle involved two events. The first was overnight Thursday to Friday (10/17 to 10/18) leaving about 6 inches. The second was overnight Saturday to Sunday (10/19 to 10/20) leaving about a foot. Columns failed easily on the 10/18 layer and within the 10/20 layer. Seems like the 10/20 storm had a density inversion or the winds made the top heavier. Minor cracking when breaking trail.
Noticed a small avalanche, maybe 50 feet vertical 1 foot debris pile on a steep rollover between Ballroom and the Shoulder under the Baldy cliffs. Not sure whether natural or human.
People were hitting some of the steeper lines on Baldy shoulder without incident. Didn't look like Main or Little Chute got skied.
Main had large wind pillows at the bottom. Seems like it will avalanche if skied and the slide will be near the line between manageable and not. Seems like it always gets skied in these October snows and there is often a debris pile in the apron. People don't seem to get injured when they do trigger slabs.
Hazard seems considerable in steep windloaded terrain and it seems the 10/18 layer will be the failure plane. Hazard may diminish as time passes but I'll be meadow-skipping until we get more snow.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Considerable
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
Considerable

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