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Thread: Avalanche Danger

  1. #1
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Exclamation Avalanche Danger

    I just wanted to throw a word of caution out there concerning this upcoming weekend. Although I am absolutely ecstatic about the new snow, remember that the underlying snowpack is mostly iced over or covered in hoarfrost. This creates perfect conditions for an avalanche. I am really, really tempted to hit Hatchers or Turnagain Pass tomorrow, but I'm going to let reason win this battle - better to let the snowpack settle for a week than run this risk of an avalanche.

    Remember, this underlying weak layer could cause problems all season long! Even if it looks nice in a week or two, it will still be imperative to practice safe backcountry travel techniques. Wear your beacon, dig a snowpit, travel with a partner, etc. I've lost friends to avalanches...I'd hate to see a forum member lost this season.

    Despite all that, though...thank God for the snow!

    -Brian

  2. #2

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    I am definitely going skiing but I am skiing low angle probably touring kind of terrain. Why?

    Look at these pictures I took last saturday. After a month of clear and cold the surface hoar buildup is scary. Those are 1 inch spikes you are seeing there. When that got buried with this storm, we now have a bomb in the snow pack. Plus I stuck my nose in the snowpack and there is 4 to 8 inches of depth hoar adding significant instability...so be careful!





    I see Carl Skustad is now updating his avalanche discussion. He urges caution as well. You can read that at this website.
    http://www.fs.fed.us/r10/chugach/glacier/advisory.html

    Have fun and be safe

  3. #3
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for the pictures and link, funhog. I am so excited to finally see some snow, but I'm scared to open the paper this weekend - a season removed from the latest tragedies and people start to forget. Your pictures are a great visual reminder of the weak base layer that we're going to be dealing with for a while. Thanks again, and have fun out there!

    -Brian

    PS - Do you tele, AT, other??? Always looking for some backcountry partners!

  4. #4
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I just wanted to bump this to the top and encourage people to regularly click on the link that funhog posted to check avalanche conditions before heading out.

    -Brian

  5. #5
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I copied the below from the Chugach Nat'l Forest avalanche advisory for Dec. 3rd. Whether or not you're heading for Turnagain Pass, these conditions are pretty widespread among the Chugach and Talkeetnas as well. Be careful out there this coming weekend!

    -Brian


    Yesterday we toured up Tincan Mountain in Turnagain Pass. We found the bottom 6 inches of the snowpack very faceted and weak. Below 2000 feet we found another 4 inches of faceted snow sandwiched between two layers of buried surface hoar. Then atop these two layers we found the most current new snow. We found very poor stability test results in most locations. We also saw shooting cracks and heard the snowpack collapse under our feet. With this in mind the avalanche hazard was minimal. This was due to the lack of energy or cohesion in the surface slab. The snow was very unconsolidated and lacked the energy to propagate a fracture.

    This story is currently changing drastically. Warmer temperatures have moved our freeze line up to approximately 2000 feet. Rain is falling at lower elevations and snow can be expected above the freeze line. Rain on snow increases the avalanche hazard very quickly. The risk of human and natural trigged avalanches has elevated today. The weak snowpack just described will not be able to withstand the heavy, wet, snow in large amounts. The amount of new snow we get over the next couple days and the elevation of the freeze line will determine how significant the avalanche activity increases

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by B_M View Post
    Thanks so much for the pictures and link, funhog. I am so excited to finally see some snow, but I'm scared to open the paper this weekend - a season removed from the latest tragedies and people start to forget. Your pictures are a great visual reminder of the weak base layer that we're going to be dealing with for a while. Thanks again, and have fun out there!

    -Brian

    PS - Do you tele, AT, other??? Always looking for some backcountry partners!
    tele and bc tour almost all bc. I honestly don't care what people slide on as long as they don't posthole the skin track.

    I tried one of those latex suits one time...it was a bit too much for me. I am sure somebody looking at my beer gut in the thing was a bit squeemish themselves LOL.

    I was down at summit lake this weekend on some low level terrain, it was pretty light powder there. When I finished up with that, I drove into the parking lot for the Johnson Pass and there was standing water in the parking lot (Yuck!). Then I headed to Center Ridge which I ventured out a bit, with my headlamp on, and the snow was heavy and wet. The only thing I could think about was how something as heavy as I was on could stay on top of a "supporting" layers like the depth and surface hoar we been seeing.

    Anyway PM or email me and we'll see about next weekend. We should be able to find something safe and enjoyable.

  7. #7
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Here's a story about current avalanche conditions after our recent storm system. Be careful out there this weekend. Unfortunately, I'm heading to California on Saturday night, so I might get in a run or two in South Fork, but otherwise I hope the snow lasts until early January.

    http://www.ktuu.com/Global/story.asp?S=5848180

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