February 11, 2015

Observations – Canyon Road – Peaks 3 & 4

Obvious signs of instability:

  • Cracking and whumphing in windloaded areas along leeward (southerly) side of ridge
  • A few small D1 natural avalanches in windloaded areas that occurred during last week’s wind event


  • Mostly to partly cloudy skies with no precipitation
  • Generally calm wind with some very light gusts on peaks and ridges
  • Temps in the mid to upper 20s

Surface conditions:

  • Supportable to breakable wind slab from knife to one finger hardness and from ~1-6cm thick
  • Up to a few cm’s blown-in new snow in deposition areas
  • Ski crampons, boot crampons (check out CAMP USA), and Black Diamond Whippet recommended until we receive at least a few inches of soft, new snow


The persistent weak layers seem to be growing faster than the snowpack this season.  The highlight of the day was how impressively faceted the snowpack has become, and how much scary “whumping” is still occurring in wind loaded areas several days after the wind event.

At ~3200′ on a west aspect on Peak 3 the snowpack consisted of a 1-2cm thick, 1F hard wind slab directly on top of a thin melt-freeze crust with these facet chains growing below the crust and on top of several cm’s of large, fist hard depth hoar to the ground:chains 2 chains 1

Traversing pockets of wind slab like this produced some unnerving “whumphs”:traverse whumph

Leeward and wind loaded ridge lines like this demand caution:windloaded


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