|Morning sun at the Bull Trout Lake Glades - Summit.|
|Ben skinning up.|
|Great Company - Ben and Josh|
So, it was a breathtaking day, with great company, and the mountainous setting was spectacular. Skiing into Bull Trout Lake is a very special treat that made this outing a HOOT! The views to west of Bull Trout Lake are splendid, and the NW aspect slopes keep the snow in "primo" conditions.
|Bull Trout Lake just before skiing down into the Lake flats.|
As the winds calmed down late Saturday, and the snowpack had time to adjust to the new load, we assumed an avalanche danger of Moderate for our outing. The terrain by Bull Trout Lake Inlet Lakes lack the elevation and configuration to be impacted by wind loading, but there are short steep slopes and steep rollovers that can be effective avalanche starting zones during periods of "persistent" slab instabilities due to buried near-surface facets (NSF) and surface hoar (SH). This type of instability is tricky, and it is just waiting for a trigger, and that is us - the BC skier or riders. Most skier triggered avalanches happen during Moderate avalanche danger. Moderate danger means that skier triggered avalanches are POSSIBLE, and natural avalanches are unlikely.
During periods of Moderate avalanche danger skier/rider triggered slides are usually initiated at a weak area, where a slab is sitting in top of weak layer in a slope with sufficient steepness. During periods of Moderate danger there can be a lack of feedback from collapses (whmpfs) or signs of avalanches (crowns & debris), which is compounded by human perception that similar slopes have been skied without triggering slides. Please - DO DILIGENCE to determine if a weak layer is buried below a layer of more cohesive snow (slab) at the slope you intend to ski!
And make sure to check the latest avalanche forecast for our regions:
Payette Avalanche Center Avalanche Advisory
Sawtooth Avalanche Center Avalanche Advisory
Back to ure tour - we vigorously searched for evidence of instability to no avail. This was surprising to us, particularly when the most recent snow precipitated on a layer of near-surface facets (NSF) and surface hoar (SH) formed during the two weeks of high pressure. No buried surface hoar or NSF at West or East aspects were identified at quick snow pits. The snowpack was right-side up, with Fist hard at the top 35 cm and progressively increasing to 1-Finger hardness up to a depth of one meter. An interface was identified at 60 cm, but it was unreactive.
At the elevation range we skied (8000 down to 7000 feet), there were no signs of wind transported snow, windslab formation, or slope cross-loading. Other snow and avalanche observations were unremarkable with no avalanches crowns or debris in the Bull Trout Lake inlet valley resulting from last week's storm.
|Above, two pictures of ski terrain to the West of Bull Trout Lake. Red Mountain can be seen above the open meadows skyline in the background.|
|Topo Map for the Bull Trout Inlet Glades.|
From the ridge above Bull Trout Lake we could see another party at Peak 9220. We did not see skiing activity at Copper Mountain, but during the ski out to the our rig we could see ski tracks at Copper's South face and that most likely were laid on Saturday (1.12.2013). The pullout used by skiers to acces Copper Mountain was empty early Sunday afternoon, suggesting that Copper did not receive visitors this last Sunday.
|South Face of Copper Mountain, Banner Summit|
Below some pictures of the AIARE avalanche Level 1 instructor course at Stanley the first week of January 2013.
Last weekend, prior to leaving for Stanley for the AIARE ITC L1 course, we ski toured Soldier Mountain Peak 2 by Fairfield. Later this week I will post few pics, video clip, and narrative of the wonderful time we had skiing Soldier Mountain backcountry.