A few days ago - I reminded myself that visiting other ranges with a contrasting snowpack development is very important for the continuous improvement of snowpack assessment skills.
|I-75 - East side of Galena Pass, approximately 8100 feet|
Aquatica (my cousin surf shop in Puerto Rico) which I included below. As I skied down and my skis relentlessly broke through the breakable crust, I was making the same desperate plea the lonely surfer made ...
|"Dear God if you are listening .... but I'm going to need an answer pretty quick"|
|Snowpit at 32-33 degrees slope with 60 degrees East aspect|
|Snowpit at ~9100 feet, topmost 1-meter.|
|Snowpit diagram for Galena Summit snowpack at 9100 feet elevation, 60-degree aspect, 32-33 slope angle, using the online free app available at snowpilot.org - A great way to contribute to snow science by sharing your pit in a database used for avalanche research.|
|Storm Interfaces (red arrows) at Galena Summit - March 26, 2018.|
Blue arrow points to a developing near surface facet layer above a wind crust.
The topmost 20 cms showed two storm layers (or interfaces) failed easily during "tilt tests".
|The two failed fracture planes from the tilts test - picture by Thia Konig.|
"Backlit" thin slice of top 50 cms in the background.
Storm slab instability unlike persistent slab, last a short time. The storm weak layer promptly go through rounding and sintering metamorphosis. It might not make sense to spend time writing and commenting on this problem, considering that the current temperate temperatures will promote the sintering of the storm weak layers by the time most readers read this post. However, this might serve as a "teachable" moment to make backcountry users aware that storm slab instabilities can be assessed with tilt tests as well other less popular tests when conventional compression tests are challenged by pow and soft slab conditions. Avalanche educators (avyscience.com) have continued to add valuable additional stability assessment tools to recreationists as we learn more from Avalanche research. Thus you must ask yourself ... when was the last time you refreshed your avalanche knowledge? Are you aware of all of the advancements in snow/avalanche science? Are you current with the latest stability assessment techniques for snowpack structure, stability tests, and standardized documentation?
The next sample of pictures illustrates a prevalent type of avalanche I observed at Galena Summit's nearby peaks. I found interesting that many of the avalanche releases were located at or near rocky steep features. I do not have enough information to classify these releases, but based on the snowpack history, propagation, and apparent depth, it is reasonable to guess that these releases are associated with a persistent weak layer.
|A sample of Avalanche releases viewed from Galena Pass.|
|Bear Claw - May 2017|