Observation: Snowbasin Backcountry

Observation Date
01/25/2017
Observer Name
Bill Hunt

Region:

Location Name or Route
Snowbasin backcountry
Weather
Sky
Few
Wind Speed
Calm
Weather Comments
Mostly bluebird, a bit of fog.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
16"
New Snow Density
Low
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Snow Characteristics Comments
8" of super light overnight, 16" in 24 hours, 36" in 48 hours, 68" in 6 days. The reality of these numbers hit home when breaking trail, over the knees, on an exit that was a solid boot trail two days ago. "All time" conditions :)
Red Flags
Red Flags
Recent Avalanches
Heavy Snowfall
Red Flags Comments
Sluffs were fast and long running.
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Storm Slab
Trend
Decreasing Danger
Problem #1 Comments
There is so much new snow, I plan to stay on slopes below 35 degrees for a bit longer.
Avalanche Problem #2
Type
Loose Dry Snow
Trend
Decreasing Danger
Problem #2 Comments
Some cuts on the edge of steeper breakovers produced fast moving sluffs that ran about 600 feet, with a few feet of deposition.
Comments
Initial cuts on test slopes, and this 30 degree slope, did not show much cracking or instability. Next, this little ridge was much easier to deal with than on the 21st. Next, not much cracking or wind slab (this is around 8500'; I'm sure the higher ridges could have more wind affected snow).
Cuts toward "safe zone trees" near a steeper breakover (38 to 40 degree range) produced some fast moving sluffs that ran a couple hundred yards. Next, this is a side view of the track of a sluff, with a sidewall about a foot deep. These could definitely push you around if caught off guard, but I was more concerned about the deep slab potential that has been occurring, and chose a less steep route down.
I'm putting "Moderate" tomorrow only for below 8500' on slopes under 35 degrees. With 4 foot deep fractures possible, we could be looking at lower probability, higher consequence slab potential on steeper slopes. The main Hells slidepaths would not be an ideal choice tomorrow.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Considerable
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
Moderate
Snow Profile Coordinates