January 9, 2014

Observations – Canyon Road

Obvious signs of instability:

  • None


  • Cloudy skies with a very light, mist-like drizzle for a brief period
  • Calm wind with some light gusts at ridge line
  • Alpine temps in the 20s

Surface conditions:

  • The good: fully supportable windboard with a couple cm’s of fresh snow with no wind affect (getting capped by a thin drizzle/mist crust)
  • The bad: breakable wind crust in places around tree line (mainly through the alders on the approach/exit)

Snowpack discussion:

Snow snobs stay at home!  But for those of us with a more unconditional love of snow, if you can dig the hardpack, lovin’ can be found.  However, expect a more contentious love in the Eagle River area.  Suffice to say, the widespread alpine wind slab at the surface seems more breakable to the north.  Not only does this mean worse skiing, but more suspect stability as well.  The more intense winds that affected the southern Front Range actually improved the skiing (fully supportable wind slab) and seem to have improved stability as well (stronger wind slab takes more of a load to penetrate and affect weak layers below).  See the Arctic Valley observations from 1/8/14 for a better idea of what’s going on in the northern advisory area.

Nonetheless, from the Front Range to Eagle River area the snowpack still harbors persistent weak layers with the potential to fail and propagate.

Snowpack profiled and assessed between the saddle and top of Peak 4 on Thursday (dogs couldn’t resist walking above the pit today):


Looking down from the pit (unfortunately, below the upper bowl the snow funnels into a thin band of coverage in the gully that is a bit sastrugied):


Peak 4 in all its early season glory (much better than this time last year):


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