February 26, 2015

Observations – Arctic Valley Backcountry

Obvious signs of instability:

  • Small, D1 skier triggered wind slab on NW aspect steep, upper elevation terrain (potential for larger wind slabs up to D2 apparent)
  • Cracking in wind loaded areas of denser snow


  • Partly cloudy skies with no precip
  • Temps in low to upper 20s (increasing with elevation due to inversion)
  • Light westerly breeze

Surface conditions:

  • ~4″ loose, dry snow from Sunday in areas unaffected by the wind
  • Deeper, denser (1F to 1F+) areas of wind affected snow
  • Upper elevation areas of exposed old, hard wind slab
  • Small standing, intact surface hoar in the most wind sheltered areas
  • Lain over or blown away surface hoar in most areas
  • Weak radiation recrystallization crust on the most solar aspects


Quick after work trip to Arctic Valley to assess steep, upper elevation, leeward terrain thought to have the best potential snow for riding; but suspect due to wind loading.  Some cautious turns, a snowpit, and stability test results raised some serious concerns:Arctic Valley 2:26:15

View west from pit location:pit loc 1

Pit after being filled back in:pit loc 2

Gordon Lyon ridge view:gl ridge

South Fork view from Arctic Valley:sofo view

Rendezvous Peak:rendez view

Sunset over the missile silos:AV Nike sunset

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