Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mores Mountain: 1.21.2008

Yesterday I was able to get out with my two sons to Mores Mountain, north of Shafer Butte - Bogus Basin ski resort. It was a foggy day but it partially cleared by 2 PM.

A snowpit PLUS was done at the location on the topo map corresponding for the M of "Mtn". The snow pit chart is included below. I was quite surprised by the shallow snowpack at Mores compared to the much deeper snowpack everywhere else in the Boise mountains.

Even when this BLOG is meant for Mores Creek Creek Summit, many of the same backcountry recreationists that frequent Mores Creek Summit area also spend time around Mores mountain. In addition, considering how shallow, punchy, and facetty the snowpack is at Mores mountain - it makes sense to make the backcountry community aware of the conditions.

I suspect that the two strong winds events of the last weeks transported much of the snow from the East Faces immediately below the Mores Mountain Summit farther into the two Chutes/Gullies to the north. These two East aspect chutes appear to have better snow coverage.

Under the new snow there is a wind crust layer, but as I approached the descent line (in red in topo map) there were places were the ski penetration went from 10 cm to considerably deeper into the snowpack (30 cm). These are weak spots, where the weak layer at 25 cm could be easily disrupted. However, after descending a couple hundred feet - the crust becomes supportive.

I recommend to carefully evaluate More Mountain steep East chutes during the next weeks. A loading event or thaw could provide conditions for snowpack instability.

Stability tests suggest "FAIR" stability due to moderate snowpack strenght (CTM), moderate fracture initiation energies (Q2), but poor fracture propagation (ECTN). However, considering the HIGH variability and poor structure of the snowpack [weak layer buried in the top meter, persistent grains - facets, concern layers with more than one step in hardness, and weak layer thinner than 10 cm] it is likely that there are sweet spots capable of producing localized slides.

It should be noted that other "out of bounds" terrain we skied yesterday with north exposures (6400-5800 feet) on the ridge accesible through the resort "Stump Patch" gate were also shallow, and mostly composed of facets below the top 30 cm of recent snow. But there was suffient snow covarage to allow for FANTASTIC turning in those Northerly shots.

And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE - we need you to BLOG too - and share with us your valuable observations.