Observation: Cardiff Fork

Observation Date
01/11/2018
Observer Name
L. Dunn

Region:

Location Name or Route
Cardiff Fork
Weather
Sky
Overcast
Precipitation
Light Snowfall
Weather Comments
It was overcast with the peaks obscured, and light snow falling most of the morning. Some sun poked through the overcast and it stopped snowing in the afternoon. We were not on the ridges, there was very little wind below the ridges. We went from the Cardiff Fork parking lot in BCC up to about 10k in the low angled terrain below High Ivory/Mid Ivory.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
7"
New Snow Density
High
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Snow Characteristics Comments

The new snow gradually increased from about 2-3" at the Cardiff parking lot, to about 6-8" of new dense powder at 10k.  The new snow was right side up and provided excellent boot top powder for skiing.

Red Flags
Red Flags
Collapsing
Red Flags Comments
Below about 8800', the snowpack seemed quite solid, perhaps because it has been saturated with rain and then refroze. There isn't much snow at the lower elevations. Above 8800', based on numerous hasty pits, the new snow sat on top of a supportable layer of about 12-18" in thickness, which sat on top of very weak faceted snow that was about 12" in thickness. The weak layer seemed to be virtually everywhere we traveled (northeast through southeast aspects), but we only had two small collapses all day and no visible cracking at all. The collapsing was near some rocks at about 10k. We could see no natural avalanches in the drainage. Total snow depth above 8800' was 30-40".
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Deep Slab
Problem #1 Comments

So, there is a slab on top a persistent weak layer and it seems to be extremely widespread.  Low angle terrain with new snow on top of the supportable layer provides good riding conditions, but it seems like travel into steeper terrain is and will continue to be problematic for quite a while.  When/if we get a heavy load on top of this snowpack, it seems ready to produce a large avalanche cycle.  In the mean time, low angle terrain with enough coverage and nothing steep above is pretty good.

Today's Observed Danger Rating
Considerable
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
Considerable
Snow Profile Coordinates