Saturday, December 3, 2011

Copper - Saturday 12.3.2011

Saturday morning, Copper Mountain at Banner Summit woke up to a clear day with calm winds but very cold temperatures. The temperatures at 7400 on the western ridge leading to the top were -10 Deg-C. Snow surface temps were at the snow surface recorded -20 Deg-C. Also temperatures at 10 cm and 20 cm below the snow surface were -10 Deg-C and -6 Deg-C respectively. Most definitely gradients in excess of 1 deg-C per 10 cm! And it showed by the variety of near surface facets and advanced facets in the snow surface at all elevations and aspects. Surface hoar was not observed today in the snow surface.

Stephen at Copper Mountain, NEE 8600 feet before skiing recycled pow.

Snowpits at ~ 8600 feet of elevation at NEE  (38 deg slope steepness) and SSW (28 degrees steepness) aspects did not revealed any weakness with multiple CTN and ECTX scores. At 8600 feet of elevation, NEE aspects had a snowpack depth (HS) of 80-100 cm, and SSW aspects had a HS = 50-60 cm. Both snowpacks had a progressive hardness from F (5-10 cm) to 4F to 1F. No basal facets (DH) were observed.

A quick-pit at NNE aspects, 8500 feet elevation, in a steep open meadow surrounded by trees, we were surprised to see a snowpack depth much shallower than expected, with HS = 40 cm. The whole snowpack in the mostly north aspect slope had turned into advanced facets. But the skiing was not bad at all!

One of the NEE slopes we skied.

Below a very short video of the slope shown in the picture included above. Too bad we could not get more footage - the cold temps messed up the cam, and it refused to cooperate!

The West, NW, and north aspects were severely affected by the wind with a mix of wind crust, and wind erosion features. These surfaces did not make for fun skiing!

However, with careful selection at S & SW aspects and NEE and E aspects it was possible to find fun lines to ski with 10-15 cm of soft pow. Below 8000 feet at aspects with any south, a nasty melt crust reared it ugly head. We learnt very quick to retreat to more treed slopes when skiing South aspects.

In general, coverage at Copper was adequate, buy it still requires some level of vigilance to avoid some buried obstacles.

There were other folks in the mountain, but we never ran into each other. I should note that it was a pleasure to run into Ralph (one of the blog contributors) for the first time this year at the Bench Creek pull-out. His tribe were heading over to Bull trout point. I will be looking forward for his report.