Avalanche Discussion – December 6, 2014

Specifically went for better pit data today.  Continued whomping, inconclusive pit test, lack of natural activity with oddly….abundant skier triggered events all add up to red flags.  Skied up onto Worthington Glacier as an ideal place for a pit as the snowpack is undisturbed by wind and drifting which is compounding these variable and unique conditions.  With a perfect test site, Taylor and I expanded the sample area after some column tests.  The AK-Block, perfected in Valdez by Bill Glude, is a variation of the Reutchblock in that you don’t cut the back and provide a much larger block with a skier as the tester.

My read on the new snow is it is setting on multiple brittle layers of various densities. Much of the  stratification is irregular with voids. When you step on it, it just collapses and you get the whomp, a much different whomp sound than when you trigger depth hoar, or a soft slab.   Below are the core results we got followed by some pics of the day.

What will help get rid of this issue is the snow to settles it out.  With 18″ in the models through the week, this specific problem will go away as the current mid-snowpack further deforms by settlement.  Of course with this amount of snow in the forecast, other issues will develop over the next few days.  It will be interested to see if the new snow sets off some large naturals on steep angles in the short term.

We did make it to just below the ice-bench and enjoyed fabulously, fast powder skiing. Be careful of crevasses.  We had our probes out from time to on the way up, but generally we had other than up and over the terminus.  You’ll figure it out.



Taylor heads for dry glacier snow.



Cool cave.


Cool bird.



Cool skiing.