11th Annual Utah Snow & Avalanche Workshop Open and Motorized Sessions Oct. 27th.
Observation Date: 
Observer Name: 
Dave Garcia
Location Name or Route: 
Laurel Highway> Goldminers> Talking Mountain Cirque> Lone Pine
Wind Direction: 
Wind Speed: 
Weather Comments: 
Scattered Clouds in the morning, almost clear by 4:00. Ridge top winds were moderate out of the SW. Temps were warm, low 30's above 10,000 ft.
Snow Characteristics
Snow Surface Conditions: 
Dense Loose
Wind Crust
Melt-Freeze Crust
Snow Characteristics Comments: 
It's a pretty mixed bag out there right now, but still plenty of fun snow to be found. South faces were a mess of wind/sun crusts, could have skied ok late in the day, I was on it early. Surprisingly good snow on a west face, dense creamy turns. NE facing was a mix of good snow and funky wind affected depending where you go.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Decreasing Danger
Problem #1 Comments: 
Wind Slab is still a concern as the winds have not been calm lately. Today they shifted and are now blowing from the SW once again. At this point there is not a lot of snow available for transport. The snow has seen a lot of wind and sun affect lately, so even though winds are in the critical range, there's just not much snow moving around. I think wind slab danger will be trending down the next couple days.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
Problem #2 Comments: 
A pit on a West face around 11,000 revealed strong snow. See the profile and discussion below. A pit on a NE face around 10,800 ft also revealed relatively strong snow. The pit on the NE facing slope was more interesting because it did contain a crust/facet layer, but this layer did not react to stability testing. Here are the details for the NE facing pit: 10,800 ft. 26 degree slope, aspect: 50 degrees, pit depth: 97cm, HS: 215cm. This pit was dug on the steep rollovers to the lookers right of Lone Pine at the bottom of Middle Cirque. A compression test yielded results on an interface down 63 cm. It failed on 1mm facets with a Resistant Planar fracture, CT29 RP Q2. 29 taps is a lot, but the fracture was clean enough to warrant further inspection. I tested this layer with an ECT, but it did not react (ECTX). One other layer of interest in this pit was a crust of 1 Finger density down 43cm. I was able to positively ID facets above and below this crust, however this interface did not react to the CT or ECT. So overall stability testing in this location doesn't indicate the potential for skier triggered slides. However this pit is showing some interfaces with facets, so not total green light conditions.
Snow Profile
Slope Angle: 
Pit Details: Elevation: 11,000, Aspect: 270 (W), Angle: 38 degrees, Pit Depth: 106cm, HS: 283cm, Foot Pen: 10cm. Strong snow found in this pit on a West aspect in lower Talking Mountain Cirque. One look at the snow profile and you can clearly see we are dealing with strong snow in this location. Also very deep snow, 283 cm here! A few things to note about this profile. I was able to detect near surface faceting happening beneath the top 6 cm of snow. This is illustrated in the photos below. This is not critical to today's stability, but it is interesting to see it happening, and I will continue to look for this in other places. It will be important to know the distribution of near surface facets before out next storm. Another point of interest in this pit is what looks to me like rounded grains showing signs of faceting down 22cm. Two side by side compression tests did not produce any failures on this layer after 30 taps. However I continued to pound on the column after the test just to see what would happen. With several more hard whacks with ski pole in hand I got Resistant Planar fractures down 22cm in both compression tests. I think it's worth noting since the shear was planar and this is the only place I found faceting snow besides the very top. I don't think it is contributing to instability right now, just worth noting. I skied a slope adjacent and above this pit with the same aspect and slope angles approaching low to mid 30's.
Two photos of the near surface facets that are forming down 6cm. In the top photo you can see a thin line where the light is shining through the top of the snowpack. This is where the facets are forming. The second photo is a section of the surface snow showing the facets underneath. The side facing the camera shows the facets under the top 6 cm.
A column of strong snow I pulled out after pounding on the layer of faceting round down 22cm. The snow below that is very strong, Pencil resistance to the bottom of the pit. Todays overall danger is low, with moderate danger of persistent slab on upper elevation slopes North through East.
Today's Observed Danger Rating: 
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating: 
Snow Profile Coordinates: 

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