Observation: Cutler Ridge

Observation Date
02/24/2017
Observer Name
Derek DeBruin

Region:

Location Name or Route
Ben Lomond, Cutler Ridge, Backyard/Birthday Bowls
Weather
Sky
Overcast
Precipitation
Light Snowfall
Wind Direction
West
Wind Speed
Light
Weather Comments
Trailhead (5500') temp was 20F when I left the car at 0600. Snowfall rate was close to S1, a bit more or less at times, throughout my quick tour. I couldn't get out yesterday, so it was hard to estimate overnight snowfall, but I'd put it around 4 to 6" based on the skin track this morning as well as yesterday's ski tracks, at least for the lower elevations. My laps topped out at just under 7000' feet where some evidence of minor wind effects was present along the ridge, as well as the occasional light gust. Pretty calm considering the typical Ben Lomond winds.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
6"
New Snow Density
Medium
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Dense Loose
Rain-Rime Crust
Snow Characteristics Comments
Ski pen varied from 6 to 12" onto to a firm, supportable crust that I'm attributing to all the rain down low. I was out of town for the last storm cycle (skiing somewhere near "the valley that must not be named" https://www.adventure-journal.com/2017/02/localism-ruining-backcountry-skiing/) and couldn't line up a partner for this morning (they all quite reasonably took the whole day off to ski, leaving me to get my pre-work runs in myself). Consequently, I kept it conservative and lapped the 30 degree terrain, creeping up to 35 degrees by the last lap. Surface snow was 6" graupel on top of the crust, with 6" of that "champagne powder" I've been hearing so much about on top of that. Definitely not blower, but nice mid-density powder. The dust on crust nature made for some pretty fast riding, even on the lower angle slopes.
Red Flags
Red Flags
Heavy Snowfall
Red Flags Comments
Snowfall continued all the way down to the trailhead even when I left around 0830. There's definitely been plenty of it, and I was psyched to see the awesome overnight reports.
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Storm Slab
Trend
Decreasing Danger
Problem #1 Comments
I didn't observe any, but I imagine there has to be some storm snow instability lurking at the mid and upper elevations. If the winds stay as light as forecasted, it might actually be downright pleasant with good skiing up high on Ben Lomond.
Avalanche Problem #2
Type
Loose Dry Snow
Trend
Same
Problem #2 Comments
There was plenty of loose snow to go around, and I certainly managed to kick plenty of it off the corners of my turns. However, nothing quite met the definition of what I'd call a sluff. With a bit more steepness, though, I would not be surprised to see some long-running loose snow given the crust and graupel.
Comments
Low visibility with all the snowfall happening. Got to drive to the trailhead Millenium Falcon style.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Moderate
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
Moderate
Snow Profile Coordinates