Observation: Cutler Basin

Observation Date
02/17/2018
Observer Name
Bill Brandt

Region:

Location Name or Route
Ben Lomond Peak to Cutler Basin
Weather
Sky
Scattered
Wind Direction
Southwest
Wind Speed
Moderate
Weather Comments
Moderate winds with strong gusts on approach to Ben Lomond summit. Wind and blowing snow limited visability intermitttantly. Not much wind at the start of the tour. Blue skies became overcast by 3 pm.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
4"
New Snow Density
Medium
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Wind Crust
Melt-Freeze Crust
Snow Characteristics Comments

Soft snow on surface with a firm icy base. New snow was graupel and rimed stellars. Wind had scoured surface to hard and icy old snow surface. Wind slabs were mostly soft , but firming up as the day progressed. New snow was well bonded to old snow surface. The approach through North Fork Park is very thin. We had to remove our skis and walk on the gravel road and summer trail several times. The only viable exit route is the summer trail. Not enough snow and to much brush below 6800 ft.

Red Flags
Red Flags
Recent Avalanches
Wind Loading
Cracking
Poor Snowpack Structure
Red Flags Comments
The wind was the biggest factor today. The wind was moving a lot of snow on the upper reaches of the peak. We skied a fairly wind protected line with out much slab formation. Several ski cuts produced no results on steep slopes near the top of the peak. About 2/3's of the way down the NE face we encountered significant cross loading and wind slabs. Gulley walls were cracking and small skier released wind slabs were running short distances. We skied small subridges safely to the bottom. In retrospect I became more uncomfortable with our decision to ski this slope as the snow became more unstable lower towards Cutler Basin. If we had more than 4 inches of new snow we would have been in real trouble. Stability was very different at the top of the slope, where we made our decision to ski, than near the bottom.
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Wind Slab
Problem #1 Comments

Yes it was windy. The red flags were there, but not registering today.

3. Winds on upper peak.

1 & 2. Some natural slide debris in Cutler Basin.

4 & 5. A couple of many skier triggered cracks .

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