Problem #1: Wind Slab
Location: All aspects at and above treeline. Shifting winds out of the North and South have loaded all aspects with wind slabs of varying thickness and reactivity. Winds on Wednesday blew out of the South at 15-25mph, loading the northern half of the compass rose. Winds are now blowing out of the north/northwest and will cause areas of fresh wind slab on SW-S-SE aspects in the alpine. Any fresh wind slabs will be cold and reactive to human triggering. Wind slab can be identified by dense, cohesive snow, cracking, and a hollow or drum like feel. Look for wind slab in top and cross loaded terrain like below ridge lines and along gullies, where pockets of CONSIDERABLE danger may be lurking. These avalanches could lure riders well onto the slab before failing and could be surprisingly large.
( *star means meteorological estimate )
If you get out riding, please send in an observation!
Start the season with fresh batteries in your beacon, and 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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