Observation: Provo Canyon

Observation Date
01/2/2016
Observer Name
J. Dempster

Region:

Location Name or Route
Big Springs, south fork of Provo River
Comments

Location: Big Springs, South Fork of Provo Canyon

Time: 10am-4pm

Weather: cold, partly sunny, no wind

Obvious wind transport was observed on all exposed ridges.  The Cascade summit ridge E facing slopes were scoured down to rock in many place.  Not surprisingly, there was a great deal of new avalanche activity related to the transport.  Many good sized avalanches (20-40 meters in width, estimated) could be observed in the higher terrain on Cascade where slope aspects allowed for deposition.  On lower slopes, around 9000 feet, many W facing slopes had very stiff windloaded snow, but had not run.  We were on one such ridge and walked across such snow, but did not experience cracking.  Still, we did not feel confident skiing into steeper terrain where the snow was present.  The skiing would have been terrible, anyway.

It was possible to find great sheltered powder down on E and N facing protected slopes, which is where we chose to ski.

I skied in the same area as I did one week ago today, but pushed slope angles into avalanche territory for the first time.  The facets are still down below the new snow of course, so we didn't centerpunch any big open bowls, but did ski historic avalanche paths with some convexities that went over 35 degrees.  While I wouldn't guarantee that such terrain is safe everywhere, we didn't have any collapses or cracking.  I feel like the there is quite a bit of vegetative anchoring at the base of the snowpack in the mid elevations above the faceted layer, and in general the new snow lacks elastic tension at this point, and such forays into steeper terrain are generally safe when approached with a good plan.

One other interesting development is faceting in the upper 20-30cm of the snowpack.  Whereas last week, the new snow was rounding nicely, the recently cold temperatures have done their work, and the top 20-30cm is quite incohesive at this point. The grains are still very small and will likely heal quickly once they are buried, but could present a problem if the next shot of snow is significant.

Today's Observed Danger Rating
None
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
None
Snow Profile Coordinates