Observation: Bunnels

Observation Date
01/14/2018
Observer Name
Meisenheimer / Woody UDOT

Region:

Location Name or Route
South fork to Bunnel's ridge.
Weather
Sky
Clear
Wind Speed
Calm
Weather Comments
Beautiful day to be out in the mountains.
Snow Characteristics
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Faceted Loose
Wind Crust
Melt-Freeze Crust
Damp
Snow Characteristics Comments

Starting at 5000' there is very little to almost no snow, as you gain elevation there is a fairly stout rain crust all the way up to 8000' feet on all aspects. The shady aspects have very nice soft settled powder and any slope with enough of a tilt towards the sun is crusted. Snow depths at 9,000' on the south face varied from 1-2 feet deep while the more shady northerly slopes hold 3-4' feet. Wet loose activty started around 1pm at 9,000' feet on the strong solar aspects and would expect the same for tomorrow. Not much snow on the solar aspects below 8,500' feet.   

Red Flags
Red Flags
Recent Avalanches
Heavy Snowfall
Rapid Warming
Poor Snowpack Structure
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Persistent Slab
Problem #1 Comments

It's hard to say how likely it would be to trigger a persistent slab avalanche right now on Cascade Ridge. However, here is what I know... There was a very large natural avalanche (1.5 miles wide - averaging 2.5' feet deep with some places up to 8' feet deep - running 3,000' vertical feet down slope) The snow pack structure on the shady aspects is poor, due to large grained faceted snow with a 2-3' foot slab on top.

Bunnels drainage avalanched almost wall to wall. We didn't spot any other avalanches throughout the range (SURPRISING) to me. There are many large north facing slide paths that are pasted white and hanging in balance. 

We did not travel in, or, under any northwest through east facing slopes that had the potential to avalanche (greater than 30° degrees). I also did not feel comfortable standing in the runout zones in this area as well, even if they are under 30° degrees. This is mainly because I do not trust the snowpack. The consequences of large, dangerous terrain, along with persistent slab avalanches, is too much for me - and, it tells me I need to be patient. I have no problem waiting for the snow pack to stabilize.

 

Snow Profile
Aspect
Northwest
Elevation
9400
Slope Angle
20
Comments

This is the photo of the snow pit. The white line marks the weakest faceted snow. The consequence of triggering a slab that could be 2-3' feet deep and up to a 1000' feet wide had us tiptoeing around the range.  

Looking into Bunnels from the ridge that seperates it from Big Springs. When you zoom in you can see large debris piles and crowns everywhere you look.

It was a good old classic beatdown. Uptrack photo is a look at what the coverage is like on the SE facing terrain. Notice the big white bowl in the background - that is the type of terrain I would continue to avoid. It's also important to remember these slide paths can run thousands of vertical feet down. 

Today's Observed Danger Rating
Considerable
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
None
Snow Profile Coordinates