Observation: Gold Basin

Observation Date
Observer Name
Moab » Gold Basin
Location Name or Route
Lone Pine and Red Snow Cirque
Wind Direction
Wind Speed
Weather Comments
Strong Northerly winds backed off quickly this morning. I stayed near treeline and below in Gold Basin and the wind was mostly calm with occasional light breezes from the NE. Temperatures were right around freezing, but the strong April sun made it feel much warmer.
Snow Characteristics
Snow Surface Conditions
Snow Characteristics Comments
I traveled mainly on Northerlies, and found nice cold, dry, settled powder. While skiing out, I skied across a variety of aspects, and the snow down low was damp and very sticky. It felt very warm out there by early afternoon. Solar aspects, and even lower angle Northerlies will be cooked by tomorrow.
Red Flags
Red Flags
Wind Loading
Poor Snowpack Structure
Red Flags Comments
Strong NE winds were blowing and drifting snow in the early morning hours. While driving up this morning, I could see a lot of snow blowing off the high peaks and depositing on South and West aspects. These winds backed off quickly, and I didn't see any snow transport after about 10 AM. I found poor snowpack structure in Lone Pine, a slope that has previously avalanched. The total HS here was 120cm, and a full-depth pit showed multiple layers of weak, faceted snow. Of most concern was a layer of facets beneath a slab of wind-drifted snow. This poor structure was enough to keep me from going any higher on the slope. Based on this observation, I would expect other repeater paths with shallow snowpacks to have a similar weak structure. It is worth your time to check out the avalanche database to know which slopes have a shallow snowpack, and possibly harbor weak snow like I found in Lone Pine.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Problem #1 Comments
The older drifts that formed on Sunday are widespread above treeline. I poked at some of these drifts near treeline and they seem to be stabilizing. A fresh round of drifts formed on South and West aspects this morning, and I would expect them to be sensitive tomorrow.
Near treeline, I found recently formed shallow wind slabs that failed on isolation. This result was easily repeatable across the near treeline moraines, but these drifts are shallow and pose little threat.
It is worth noting the weak snow that I found in Lone Pine. As stated above, this slope avalanched previously this season. The snowpack here is weak, due to an overall depth of 120cm. And I found recent wind slabs on top of a layer of facets. This layer did not react to stability testing (ECTX) x2, but I was able to get very clean shears after my tests. I didn't want to go any higher on the slope after seeing this poor structure. I made some runs on the lower part of the slope and had good skiing.
I bumped over to Red Snow Cirque and found a much deeper, and stronger snowpack. With a depth of 261cm, I did not find the poor structure that I observed in Lone Pine. I enjoyed some great turns in this area.
It seems the overall trend is towards stability. If you can avoid areas of wind-drifted snow, you can stay out of trouble right now.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating