some obs for the day, jan 26, 2017

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splitboarder
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some obs for the day, jan 26, 2017

Postby splitboarder » January 26th, 2017, 8:33 pm

Southerly and westerly slopes feeling stable up high. And the safer ridge skinning is so good right now...
TemptationRidge26Jan2017.jpg


Lots of snow in the cirque especially in the SE chutes like Heck Ya. Loaded!
We tiptoed into a chute that faces ESE off of Rustlers peak, and spills down into Flagstaff spring bowl.
Pit results:
32° slope (above the rollover), 120° aspect
ECT11N about 15-20 cm down
ECT12N about 15-20 cm down
no reaction from the old rain crusts that were 80cm down.
We liked the results and the snow looked good about 100 feet down, beyond the harder wind-slab snow we had just measured. This chute is fairly well disconnected from the rest of the cirque and the run out is just about as good as it gets on the peaks.
Zack drops and does a good ski cut... nothing. He commits, and he looks not quite so smooth. On the radio hey says it's inconsistent and sometimes crusty. I drop. Yep, it's a soft crust here and there, mostly soft slab on top of very soft snow. It's not hero snow but it is fairly fun, and PD thinks so.
PD26Jan2017.jpg


We regroup and prepare to skin out back to the low saddle. We maintain safe spacing, and I am last in the skin track. I dig some ECT hand pits in the soft snow and I can get the wind slab to propagate in some spots on top of the very soft snow... alarming. Why did this not avalanche? Fortunately the slab hardness was inconsistent and was soft and not very cohesive, and there was not a good sliding surface for the soft windslab to slide on (soft fist minus loose snow).

Southerly through westerly slopes showed good stability and no propagation in our tests. Temptation chutes and trees did have stable hero pow.
Evidence of natural avalanches on ~easterly aspects in the the Cirque and Snowslide Canyon.
Troy Marino is a splitboarder and on the KPAC board of directors.
KPAC Snow Summary.
Future Guidebook?!

splitboarder
Posts: 174
Joined: November 9th, 2010, 9:07 pm
Contact:

Re: some obs for the day, jan 26, 2017

Postby splitboarder » February 2nd, 2017, 3:04 pm

Well I've had some time to reflect on dropping this line. Here is what i learned.

1. It sure was easy to look down the slope and see soft shred-able powder snow, rather than look down and see a potential soft wind slab, which is what it was.

2. I forgot to do my ALPTRUTH.
Avalanches in last 48 hours? No (but some had happened on similar aspects during the the President Trump Inauguration Weekend storms).
Loading in the last 48 hours? Yes from Wind.
Path? yes this is an avalanche path.
Terrain Traps? (mostly no, this was a mostly clean run, almost as clean as it gets on these peaks)
Rating? Well KPAC does not publish a danger rating, but it was "Considerable" if ya did the math based on the Monday snowpack summary.
Unstable snow? None observed in all our observations and stability tests for this slope and others...
Thawing, warm weather? No

So it would have been a three, the point where one should consider changing plans. Were we pushing our luck. Yes. Why?
Because we love riding avalanche terrain....

3. Myself and most of my partners love riding avalanche terrain. That sounds like a human factor/narrative that I need to pay attention too...

4. Perhaps I need a verbal protocol, before sending every line in avalanche terrain, my partners and I should go through the ALPTRUTH and reevaluate when we hit 3.

Fortunately that windslab was soft and not cohesive enough to propagate....
Before dropping in, the slope looked fun. Now looking at a picture of myself on that slope, it looks big and scary, and I look small and vulnerable. Photo by Alicia Vargo
Image
Troy Marino is a splitboarder and on the KPAC board of directors.
KPAC Snow Summary.
Future Guidebook?!


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