Observation: Soapstone

Observation Date
02/5/2017
Observer Name
Mark Staples

Region:

Location Name or Route
Eastern Soapstone Basin
Weather
Sky
Few
Wind Speed
Calm
Weather Comments
Beautiful day with warm temps, sunshine and great views of the Wasatch Mountains and high Uinta Peaks.
Snow Characteristics
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Snow Characteristics Comments

Great riding conditions. Sun exposed snow was just starting to get wet.

Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Persistent Slab
Trend
Same
Problem #1 Comments

In Soapstone basin it was generally a low danger danger unless you found a pocket of buried surface hoar. While it isn't too sensitive with only about 6 inches of new snow on top (which isn't a big load), it shows red flags in stability tests. I don't trust it one bit.

Unfortunately the only way to know it exists is by digging a snowpit 2-3 feet deep. It is an obvious stripe. There were no other signs of instability - no recent avalanches, no cracking, nothing. The buried surface hoar is like a booby trap.

Also, it doesn't exist on high traffic slopes where it was destroyed by snowmobile traffic. Be especially watchful for it on slopes sheltered from wind that haven't seen much sled traffic.

Snow Profile
Aspect
East
Elevation
9700
Slope Angle
25
Comments

You can dig a trench with your sled to look for this layer (photo below); HOWEVER, the only way to see it is by using your shovel to make a clean wall in the snow. You can' find it in a rough pit wall.

Video
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Moderate
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
Moderate
Snow Profile Coordinates