February 23, 2016


Front Range – Peak 3

Red flags (obvious signs of instability):

  • Recent natural wind slab avalanche in a windloaded area around the next peak SE of Peak 3 (similar to this avalanche, but a much smaller starting zone and path)


  • Cloudy to obscured skies with light snow, light easterly wind, and alpine temps in the upper 20s

Surface conditions:

  • Melt-freeze snow below 2250′
  • Mostly supportable wind slab with a bit of soft, fresh, and moist snow on top


Quick after work trip to assess the scene after Sunday’s storm and before the next wave(s) move(s) through.  Vast redistribution of several inches of new snow from Sunday.  Heavily wind loaded in areas.  Skier’s right descent down Peak 3 is heavily wind loaded, punchy, and slabby feeling.  Left side is firmer, more supportable, less hollow feeling.  Will be interesting to assess extent of natural avalanche activity when the weather breaks later this week; likely first noteworthy cycle since New Year’s wind event.  Bright side of recent weather is that it has vastly improved the base snowpack in the upper elevations of Chugach State Park.