A friend and I spent three days skiing Kalhabuk Mountain in the Brooks Range (Wiseman, AK). Since there’s no Brooks Range observation page and I’ve received a number of questions about the conditions from EARAC folks, I figured I’d post our report here.
The skiing was phenomenal: great spring corn on eastern aspects and 6-12 inches of re-crystallized powder on northern aspects. We dug two pits on an eastern aspect. An image of the compression and ECT results are below, along with some videos of the tests. In short, there is a strong cohesive slab of varying depth (btw 40 and 90) over buried depth hoar. The weak layers were somewhat reactive so we stayed largely on lower angle terrain. We skied one northern aspect of about 33-35 degrees, however this was only because we observed a moose walk down it the previous day without triggering anything (another type of natural avy bomb).
The snow pack was deep for the Brooks Range, and temps ranged from 20F to 50F. We observed numerous natural slides on other peaks, mostly on southern and western aspects due to solar load. We also observed one small natural wet slab avalanche on Kalhabuk. We also skied a slide path where a large D3/D4 avalanche appeared to have run during the previous storm cycle. The slide ran approximately 3,000 feet and snapped mature old growth trees like twigs. We observed flagging 20 feet up on a number of trees where the slide appeared to have jumped a bank.
Bottom line: the skiing was spectacular and well worth the drive, but proceed with caution and never trust a depth hoar snow pack.
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