Observation: Dark Canyon

Observation Date
Observer Name
Staples, Trenbeath, Meisenheimer
Moab » Dark Canyon
Location Name or Route
Dark Canyon
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
New Snow Density
Snow Surface Conditions
Snow Characteristics Comments
The new snow has settled and gained some "body". In other words it feels more like a slab. Photo below shows settlement cones around small trees which shows how much the new snow has settled since it fell.
Red Flags
Red Flags
Wind Loading
Poor Snowpack Structure
Red Flags Comments
1) We observed some wind transport through the day at the highest ridgelines. 2) Along every shaded road bank/road cut, we triggered widespread cracking. 3) It wasn't hard to find a layer of facets under the new snow (about 16 inches deep).
Snow Profile
Slope Angle
We were looking for facets on slopes facing more southeast. The challenge in higher elevations above treeline is that the old snow surface was affected by wind and sun and cold temperatures and some warm temperatures during the long dry period. That snow surface was highly variable. Despite this variability, we were easily able to find an obvious layer of weak, sugary facets on an ESE facing slope at 11,100 feet in the runnout of the east face of Laurel Peak.
Surprisingly, our extended column tests required hard force to break and did not propagate (photo below), but it doesn't matter. The simple presence of this weak layer is enough of a red flag.
In terms of avalanche activity, we only saw two small slabs of wind drifted snow that may have been triggered by a piece of falling cornice. (second photo below)
Every small slope that was sheltered and shaded produced cracking and wanted to produce avalanches but were either too small or not steep enough. However, all this activity which is a major red flag caused us to avoid going near similar slopes that were larger because we knew they would slide.
Photo below shows how much the new snow has settled by the cones around small trees.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating