Observation: Red Pine Gulch

Observation Date
Observer Name
Nate L
Salt Lake » Little Cottonwood Canyon » Red Pine Gulch
Location Name or Route
Red Pine
Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Problem #1 Comments
I noted a variety of weak snow surfaces touring in Red Pine today. Above ~8200', most sheltered and shady slopes harbored some form of surface hoar, which I continued to notice until I passed onto an unsheltered slope around 10,300'. This was not present on all sheltered/shady slopes, but certainly the majority. Of more concern, on low angle N and low angle to steep NW-SW slopes, I noticed faceted crystals on a stout MF crust which my skis did not substantially break through while skinning. These crystals were feathery, striated, and 1-2mm in size. I was initially concerned that their presence on a MF crust indicated radiation recrystallization. However, they also could've been surface hoar that grew last night (relative humidity on Mt Baldy reached 90%, conducive to surface hoar) and had not yet been destroyed by the sun, since I noted them on a westerly aspect around 11am-noon. That said, I'll be keeping my eye out for radiation recrystallization before the next snowfall, given that the low sun angles this time of year provide a better radiation balance for radiation recrystallization.
On the NW face of White Baldy, above 10,400', the snow surface was mostly wind crust of varying hardness. On 30-35 degree NW slopes which received a small amount of sunlight at the end of the day, I noted some faceting rounds underneath the wind crust, .1-.5mm in size. These probably wouldn't be an issue if it snowed tomorrow, but may be by the time the next storm comes through. Above 10,600' on a steep, northerly aspect that receives little or no sunlight, I did not note any faceting under the generally stout (1-2cm) wind crust. The few cms under the crust that I sampled were very small (.1-.3mm) rounds. However, the crust was not well bonded to the underlying soft powder, and I noted some shooting cracks in it, plus it would slide easily when I stomped on the corners of my skin track. This may have been due to a thin layer of facets underneath the crust that I neglected to check for- needs further investigation.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Problem #2 Comments
The scouring on the NW face of White Baldy indicated wind transport to the southern aspects. Otherwise, no wind-related instabilities were noted on this tour.
Started around 9am, toured up Red Pine to the summit of White Baldy, skiied the NW face to Red Pine Lake, and skiied out via Red Pine trail. Clear skies all day. No winds except 15-25mph on the summit ridge of White Baldy. Cold air temps, not above 20F. Most snow surfaces had either MF crust or wind crust, except protected & shady aspects. Where the snow isn't crusted, it has settled into nice, creamy powder. Most slopes have abundant coverage, but the NW face of White Baldy still has lots of sharks, which made for some slightly gripping riding conditions. However, the NE aspect between the summit of No Name Baldy and Red Pine Lake had great coverage, so it seems that only the rockiest/steepest alpine slopes lack sufficient coverage for good skiing. I did not investigate more than a few cms down from the snow surface, so I can't say anything about layering deeper in the snowpack.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating