The last storm cycle ended January 1st. It featured strong SE winds, and 1-2.5" of SWE. It rained up to about 4000ft for a few hours at the end of the storm. We've been in deep freeze with arctic outflow ever since. NW winds are finally calming down a bit and some light snow is moving in for this weekend. See the weather section for more details.
Problem #1: Wind Slab:
Location: Specific slopes in the alpine above 2,000ft, where north/NW winds this week caused recent wind loading on lee aspects beneath ridgelines and terrain features. Reports from this week found isolated areas of recent wind slab (3-8" thick) that are poorly bonded and easy to trigger. An additional 5" fell in this zone over the last day or two, and may have increased wind loading in some areas, adding another layer of complexity.
Be sure to dig around in high-alpine areas to assess for yourself how well-bonded the upper snowpack is. Variability will be high, so evaluate each slope carefully. In large or steep terrain, slabs as thin a few inches can sweep you into dangerous situations.
January 8th Snow pit from the Lutak zone, at 2700ft, N aspect. Notice fresh wind slabs in top 15cm (easy triggering), and hard triggering down 35cm.
Light snow will continue off and on Saturday-Sunday, with an additional 1-4" of snow possible. Snow totals will be highest in the Lutak zone, lowest at the Pass. Winds will be light and variable.
( *star means meteorological estimate )
If you get out riding, please send in an observation!
Do a rescue practice with your partners. Always carry a beacon, shovel, and probe, and KNOW HOW TO USE THEM.
Practice good risk management, which means only expose one person at a time to slopes 30 degrees and steeper, make group communication and unanimous decision making a priority, and choose your terrain wisely: eliminating unnecessary exposure and planning out your safe zones and escape routes.
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