Observations – February 11, 2013

Having found great skiing and relatively good stability in North Bowl yesterday afternoon, and with more new snow overnight (Indian Pass & Glen Alps snotels reporting ~9″), we headed to Canyon Road to get a grasp of the snowpack in that part of the advisory zone.

There’s anywhere from 6″ in the parking area to waist deep snow in windblown areas along the ridgeline.  The snow is low density Front Range fluff where undisturbed by the wind.  It’s more windpacked-affected (not unpleasantly so) in other areas, but still soft just about everywhere.

For the most part, the new snow seems to be bonding well to the previous surface.  However, there are things few main things in my mind to watch out for:

First, pockets of wind slab and wind pillows along the ridgeline and near the peaks that appear relatively bulbous (and so should be easily recognized) that pop (predictably) in steep areas and on rollovers.  Second, areas where the new snow sits atop a denser more consolidated slab (3-4″ thick) of older snow that is just above the old icy melt-freeze/rain crust.  The bottom of this older snow slab is faceting atop the icy layer creating a weak layer it could possibly slide on.  Third, new fluff sitting right on top of previously exposed areas of the icy crust layer that sluff off easily.

Two wind slabs were intentionally popped here, just below the top of Peak 3:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClose up of the upper one:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe wind slabs are recognizable as in this photo (see the area of snow built up by the wind, just in front of the big rock, that sits atop a harder sliding surface below):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACracking in another wind slab along the ridge to Peak 4:


Pay close attention to the snow to note wind affected areas, from slabby to just textured:


Powerline Valley filling in:


Don’t get caught off guard by sluffing in steeper areas, especially with rocks around (also some lightly covered that you won’t see til you hit):