Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Galena Summit - March 26, 2018

It was about time to ski tour at other location in Central Idaho besides MCS. This year I skipped my Colorado teaching tour, and concentrated my efforts in Idaho, with three exceptions, a trip to Alaska to teach a Level 2 at Hatcher Pass,  taught a PRO Bridge Course in Utah, and lead a snow/avalanche science field camp at Soldier Mountain-Fairfield.

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
Thus, yesterday I spent the day at Galena Summit. The day was sunny and tranquil with light winds. Skiing conditions were fine as long as you avoided any snow below 8500 feet and sought slopes minimally impacted by solar radiation. Steep terrain can be found at Galena Summit slopes, but there is plenty of terrain with moderate angles for those just getting introduced into backcountry skiing or for those that are satisfied with good pow conditions without having to deal with avalanche terrain.

At the end of the day, as we skied back to my vehicle and we drop below 8500 feet in elevation, the skiing became desperate ... it did not matter aspect, or shaded snow, or snow near the protection of trees. Skiing below the 8500 reminded me about a surfing poster at 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"
As usual, you can never get tired by the spectacular views from Galena Summit. The Sawtooth, White Clouds, Boulder, and Smokies ranges dominate each cardinal direction.

A quick snowpit revealed that the snowpack top 1-meter structure lacked structural weaknesses (slab over weak layer, facet weak layer, a difference in crystal size larger than 1 mm) below the 20 cm depth at the snowpit location (NE aspect, 9100 feet, 32 degrees slope).
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 can lead to storm slab avalanche problem if a less cohesive interface is buried by storm snow.  The next picture for Galena Summit top 20 cm of the snowpack shows two storm weak layers as lighter lines in the "thin slice" due to their "intrinsic" lower density.
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 two storm interfaces identified might be too shallow to be of concern for most of the terrain around Galena Summit. However, in steep terrain with large acreage or terrain complexity (multiple avalanche paths, cliffs, terrain traps, etcetera) a soft slab release at a depth of 20 cm can entrail enough snow to threaten a skier. Last weekend (Sunday, March 18, 2018) a similar storm slab with a depth of 20 cm was triggered by a skier at Mores Creek Summit's steep terrain near Whoop-Em-Up headwaters area. This small skier-triggered avalanche resulted in the loss of a ski and a light injury to the single victim.

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.
Tilt tests efficiently identify fracture planes during soft slab conditions. When soft slab conditions are present it is often hard to reliably perform compression tests (CT and ECT) without negatively impacting the column. That was the case when assessing the topmost 20 cms at Galena Summit this Monday, as well as last week at MCS. For soft slab conditions, tilt tests become the primary tool to identify fracture plane failures. The tilt test consists of tilting a section of a column by 5-15 degrees and gently "hitting" with the hand the shovel blade from underneath.

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.
There are some many other places besides MCS, Galena Pass, and Copper Mountain that offer fun skiing and cool tours. As spring advances, postings from other areas besides MCS will start to trickle in.
Bear Claw - May 2017
Above a sample of little-known area with complex and amazing ski terrain. I will be visiting it during the next few days.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Life is good with POW turns and face-shots!

MCS20189318full from Santiago Rodriguez on Vimeo.

I am sorry to do this again ... start a blog with a video and no words ... However, there are no words to describe the current conditions. Words like "Superb" or "Awesome" or "Fantastic" seems so lacking, thus I decided to leave it to your imagination.

Yesterday was another sweet day of pow skiing. It was the last day of another Avalanche Science's (AVYSCIENCE.COM) Level 1 course. After a short classroom session at Idaho City's Visitor Center's developing a tour plan, we left for MCS pass.

A critical outcome of Level 1 course is for participants to be able to able to generate a local avalanche forecast and integrate information from the weather, snowpack, and prior snow/Avalanche/weather observations into a ski touring plan. Below an example of what Paul and I generated Sunday morning before going skiing.
Avalanche Level 1 participants learn to prepare a plan for ski touring prior to arriving at the mountain!
Our original plan was to return to where we skied the prior day (Summit Creek Glades) but IDT did not clear the 1st pull-out north of the MCS pass, thus we decided to change plans and ski Freeman Peak.

We followed a track from another party until we got to a chocking point at Mores Creek, where it is prudent to cross the creek and avoid crossing below an avalanche path facing a southwest aspect. We crossed the track and started cutting a new track in a more reasonable location. After snapping a picture of the party uphill track crossing the avalanche path, where two storm releases were covered by new snow but still visible, I lost my camera in the deep snow. Bummer! If anybody finds the black Canon point and shoot camera, PLEASE contact me (contact info at avyscience.com).

Evidence of instability was hard to find. A friend reported a human trigger soft slab mid-slope at Freeman on Saturday at an NNE aspect steep slope (40 degrees) at approximately 7000 feet in elevation. We visited the location but the release has been covered by new snow. Stability test at the location revealed a weak layer of graupel buried at 45 cms. The layer was visible as a fragile thin layer 5 cms above last week rain crust. Compression tests are ineffective in soft snow conditions detecting fracture failures. Easy tilt test results suggested that this layer should be carefully evaluated. This layer failed the PST as well as an experimental CPST (horizontal PST) - PST 45/100 (END)! Ski cuts at various steep slopes did not produce any evidence of reactivity. We treated this "storm slab" problem as a "stubborn" with regard to trigger likelihood. This is typical of graupel weak layers, and we approached steep terrain with care.

Winter wonderland!
We skied northeast, deep north, and southeast aspect slopes, with the goal of getting familiar with the snowpack development at the various aspects, one of the objectives of the avi course.
Freeman Southeast aspect - headwaters of the 12-mile creek.
Paul (Avi course participant) with Freeman's "Rando Ridge" in the background.
Lots of NE aspect skiing at Freeman's southeast ridge, an area that gets very few visits.
I have thoroughly enjoyed having avalanche courses at MCS. At the same time, it has been bittersweet. During the last two weeks, It is hard to ignore how avalanche education might greatly improve skin tracks and downhill movement of skiers of Boise Backcountry riders.

I have observed numerous instances of mistakes cutting an uphill track that will negate safe uphill travel. And the lack of best practices during skiing is outstanding - with folks skiing above each other at slopes with 30 degrees or more in steepness. I have to wonder if they internalize that they are traveling in avalanche terrain and that MCS does indeed have serious avalanche terrain. I include a video of January 12 avalanche cycle at MCS.

Pilot Jan 12 2018 from Santiago Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, there is very little effort by the some of the Boise backcountry community in becoming aware of the snowpack structure below the skis. And I am not insinuating digging pits - that will be preposterous - but I did not see any parties during this weekend doing quick hand-pits or opportunistic ski cuts in their uphill ski tracks. What a missed opportunity to learn about a snowpack when it was heavily stressed by 50 cms of NEW snow!

Statistics from this blog suggest that there is a large community interested in ski touring at MCS. But only a handfull are really taking advantage of the courses being offered at MCS!
Statistics for MCS - Idaho readers, March 2018
The lack of participation in Avalanche Science courses is confusing at best. There is plenty of snow at MCS and the avalanche courses are close to Boise. It only takes 20 minutes from the Idaho City classroom to the trailhead, and learning is maximized by keeping class size small (a goal of 4-6 participants). Besides, the field classroom is primed with exceptional condition conducive to learning with the presence of storm slab, persistent slab, wind slabs, and dry-loose avalanche conditions - What is going on?

I have to wonder if the existence if this blog is a barrier to avalanche education. Am I doing a disservice to the community by posting updates that decrease a perceived need for avalanche education? I will be thinking hard about this question and will be considering changes to the style, content, and available resources at MCS blog.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Saturday, March 17-208 - Face Shots Day at MCS!

Paul20180317 from Santiago Rodriguez on Vimeo.

WHAT A DAY YESTERDAY - SATURDAY, March 18th, 2018. The skiing was phenomenal. Face Shots all day. And very little evidence of instability, that allowed us to ski steep gullies.

Check how much snow was at my vehicle at the end of the day.

Yesterday we were on our second day of an Avalanche Science Level 1 course. Below three pictures of Paul a participant, thinking at the trailhead and later riding at the Summit Creek Glades.

This is a very short post. Gotta get going to the last and third day of the Avi L1 course at MCS. But will share first a brief summary of stability obs. Yesterday at a wind loaded locations the snowpack was reactive, we experienced a localized "whumpf" and at steep roll-overs ski cuts produced in cracks. Early in the day, the snowpack was unreactive, but as the storm totals exceeded the 30 cms in the afternoon we started to observe reactivity increase. The storm slab problem was restricted to an interface that yesterday afternoon was present below 20  cms. This interface was easily recognized with a tilt test (easy failures, single tap after 15-degree tilt).

Today it will be prudent to approach terrain with a dose of respect. Last night precipitation (approaching the 40-50 cm depth at specific locations), as well as the slab gaining cohesivity (due to rounding/sintering as well as wind effects), might augment the reactivity of the storm slab. And - even when yesterday's forecast called for light winds at MCS, there were locations with sustain moderate winds with significant snow transport and slab hardening!

Have fun! And get out there, pow conditions are great.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Top of The World - March 15, 2018

Wednesday (March 14, 2018) morning Bogus Basin exceeded my expectations. The skiing was phenomenal! Some areas of the mountain were blanketed with an excess of 25 cms of POW snow. Careful selection of ski lines rewarded the rider with up to 30 cms of pow, the result of wind transported snow at the right locations.😁

For two hours I skied on untracked snow. Do you know how rare is that at Bogus nowadays? Unfortunately, I had to get back down to Boise by 1:00 PM and co-teach the Avalanche and Snow Physics class being offered at BSU.

Tomorrow an Avalanche Level 1 course starts at Mores Creek Summit. Thus I visited Pilot Peak today to gauge the snow conditions and prepare tour plans for the avalanche course. The next video summarizes some of the snow conditions we encountered today at Mores Creek Summit, in the area known as Top of The World.

Chago20180315 from Santiago Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Not bad skiing, not bad at all! We spent the day skiing Top of The World, where we found as much as 15 cms of new snow in the top of a rain-soaked crust. The new snow at Top of the World was sufficiently dry but creamy/dense to keep the ski edges off the underneath wet crust. Air temperatures were pleasant, in the - 4 Deg-C with light south winds. No evidence of storm, persistent, or wind slab was observed.

I must admit that I was expecting the usual MCS snow dump. When Bogus gets snow, MCS always gets more - a lot more! That was not the case with the latest storm.😞 Early in the morning, I checked the MCS Snotel and the site has received approximately 3.3 cm of SWE (Snow Water Equivalent). Assuming 10% density snow, that could have been as much as 33 cms of snow. The snow depth sensor for the MCS Snotel was not reporting values this morning, thus I had no means to estimate storm snow totals. It turns out that probably half of the 3.3 cm of SWE precipitated as snow at elevations as high as 8000 feet at MCS peaks.
MCS - 5800 feet in elevation, no snow on trees

Bogus Basin Road - 5800 feet elevation.
As the day progressed we kept our hope that the persistent fog will clear and the sun will come out. Instead, nature only gave us limited moments of cloudy skies without fog.

The next sequence shows Eric skiing during today's "flat light" conditions due to fog.

For folks that are reading this blog and that are new to the area, you should consider participating on one of the various avalanche or introductory backcountry skiing courses offered at Mores Creek Summit. Not only will you learn about safe travel in avalanche terrain, but you be will mentor about the best places to ski at Mores Creek Summit.

Avalanche Science's course participants are limited to a small number of participants. Not only that improves the learning outcomes, but you get to do a LOT of skiing for three days. Check avyscience.com for courses scheduled for this month.

A few days ago I shared the following write up about Reliable Partners at Avalanche Science FaceBook page. I include the FB post as closing remarks for this post.

-- Reliable Ski Partners --

Though topic to write about it. I have been doing a lot of thinking about it ... and I will be soon making a blog entry about it.

A reliable partner is not only a companion that reliably contributes to a trip planning, but also is a well-trained rescuer.

In order to be an effective partner during trip planning, it is essential to be exposed to 'situational awareness' and 'decision making' principles related avalanche terrain travel. Perception of the environment, key in situational awareness, demands to understand the avalanche problem at hand as well as being familiar with human factors (biases, syndromes, group tactics, among others). But situational awareness also requires comprehension of the elements (avalanche release, snow metamorphism, the impact of weather factors in instability) to anticipate avalanche danger. Assessment of avalanche danger is a key ingredient to generate ski touring plans where risk is mitigated through the selection of appropriate terrain for the day conditions.

Avalanche Level 1 courses are designed to provide participants with the fundamentals of Situational Awareness and Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain.

But a reliable partner also needs to be a competent rescuer. During Avalanche Science courses every participant has to demonstrate that they can reliably perform a single victim rescue (50-meter area, 1.2-meter depth) in less than 5 minutes.

The demand from Boise skier community for Avalanche Courses at Mores Creek Summit has been disappointing. It is true that there are other local providers that do a terrific job teaching the principles outlined above. However, there are a lot more skiers in Boise accessing the Idaho backcountry that it is possible to accommodate through local providers.

So I need help understanding why The Boise Backcountry skiers are not taking the opportunity to take avalanche courses at Mores Creek Summit. Why not become Reliable Ski Partners?

Visit avyscience.com for avalanche courses at Mores Creek Summit.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring-like Conditions

Saturday was a spectacular day at Mores Creek Summit, with very few skiers visits and a big snowmobile crowd taking advantage of the good snow conditions and spring-like conditions.

At lower elevations, there was about 5-10 cm of new snow covering a supportable crust. Above 7200, surface snow conditions improved greatly with no perceptible buried crust interface and about 20 cm of new snow that has transformed overnight into diurnal recrystallized "near surface facet (NSF)" snow - what sometimes we accurately refer to "snow that has dried-out". This is accurate due to the fact that during the faceting process a volume of snow mass is lost to sublimation, as the precipitation snow is sublimated and deposited within the snowpack as facet crystals.

Above the new NSF we observed a widespread layer of surface hoar formed overnite.

Surface hoar across my ski tips 
By the end of the day, the warm temps and strong solar radiation had destroyed the surface hoar at all aspects with the exception of deep north slopes.

The first run of the morning was a surprise. Surface snow conditions were better than expected.
Almost Top of The World - 1st run of the day
We recognized that today's warm temps and intense solar radiation were going to impact the snow rather soon, thus we set our bearings into Whoop-Em-Up headwaters.
Whoop-Em-Up Headwaters Avalanche Path
We were fortunate that a party skiing at Whoop-Em-Up on Friday did not ski the avalanche path below the cornice. πŸ˜„Thanks! Turns were sweet, but it had enough "east" and we knew it would not stay powdery for too long. We spent the rest of the day at the more northerly slopes of Whoop-Em-Up headwaters.
Whoop-Em-Up Headwaters North aspect slope
Eric contemplating where to lay tracks next
A week ago there where three reactive layers at MCS; two storm slabs at 35 and 60 cm, and a persistent slab at 95 cm. Predictably, the storm slab problem reactivity was already decreasing by last Sunday. We did not find any evidence of instabilities associated with the precipitation event a week ago.

The persistent slab problem at MCS is found in specific areas such as shallow low elevation aspects (fortunately where we do not like to ski!) and at rocky and shallow northerly aspects above 7600. Those familiar with MCS recognize that these specific features are rare and easily recognizable. Besides, MCS skiers and sleds go for the readily available deep snowpack and rock-free areas to play in the snow.

As we skied down Lamar ridge the impact of solar radiation and warm temps became unmistakable - snow surfaces at east aspect slopes were saturated with liquid water. And it did not matter how good was the wax job in your ski, the ski difficulty level went rapidly up! 😰

It should be noted that we carefully selected a safe route down a south aspect slope with a shallower snowpack. At one point the "full" slope (under 30 degrees) fractured as I skied across it and energetically and unapologetically whumped as it collapsed few cms down in unison. A steeper slope would have avalanched. This instability is well known - a persistent slab at lower elevations. This instability was not related to either a wet loose or wet slab problem. It was simply the reactivation of an old persistent problem due to "snow creep" caused by warm temperatures creating traction at the slab and polycrystal/facet layer interface. This is the interface that Payette Avalanche Center continues to warn us about it, and that can be found at MCS.

Last Wednesday I went early in the morning with the intention of skiing the northwesterly aspect slopes of Mack's Creek, below Bogus Basin "Triangle" ski area and to do snow research work for the Avalanche and Snow Physics class I am supporting Hans Peter Marshall teach at Boise State Unversity.
North-westerly slopes above Mack's Creek near Bogus Basin
I desisted in doing some side-country skiing after realizing that the snowpack at Bogus Basin backcountry remains shallow, and I did not feel like dealing with brush-covered slopes. The skiing at Mack's creek can be quite good since the snow is protected from winds and solar radiation. Below a sample of pictures from last March 2017.
Top of Bogus Basin from Mack's Creek NW aspect slopes.
Cold snow at Mack's Creek
Mack's Creek slopes from Bogus Basin
Instead of skiing, I identified a side-country slope near the Bogus Basin access gate for Mores Mountain, where I spent part of the morning doing snow research.
During snow, research scientists record snow layer depths normal to the snow surface, not "plumb"!
Very rare event - Two Denoth instruments in the same pit! Thre are very few snow capacitance instruments in the world (Expensive).
Using capacitance plates to measure the snow resistance to an electromagnetic field (a physical property called permittivity).
The experiment required to have a dry snowpack. I was generating data for a BSU GEOS 466-566 class homework where students evaluate the use of a capacitance-based sensor to estimate snow density.
Capacitance measurements versus snow density (gm/cc)
Capacitance sensors are almost always used to estimate the amount of liquid water in the snowpack. But when the snowpack is dry, the capacitance sensor estimates the resistance of snow to an electromagnetic field. This property is referred as permittivity, and in a snowpack free of liquid water permittivity is a function of density. Snow science is soooo COOL! πŸ€“

A final topic to write about, and I must declare that I am uncertain how to communicate to the timber sled users. Mores Creek summit coexistence between snowmobilers and backcountry riders is something I feel proud about it. We depend on each other. I feel safer with the presence of snowmobilers. I KNOW they are my HELPLINE if an emergency arises! Also, the snowmobile community has gone out of the way NOT to impact the area accessed by backcountry riders. I respect them greatly for that.

Last year I started to observe timber-sleds accessing terrain used by skiers. I considered these occasional incidents as part of the learning process for these new "timber-sled" users. Besides, I always espoused the belief that MCS is a large area, and the perception of crowding is the result of lack of imagination of where to go skiing. However, I was deeply concerned about the unsafe manner timber sleds traveled through steep terrain - cutting sideways through significant distances. This is annoying to some of us that care about the aesthetics of ski lines since large tracks of ski terrain get unnecessarily impacted. The truth is that this season I had seen many skiers doing the same with their uphill tracks!

This past Saturday as I skied down to the I-21, it was hard not to notice the significant timber-sled side-hilling across the terrain used by skiers next to Almost-Top-of-the-World (see pictures below).
Timber-sleds tracks across slopes next to "Almost-top-of-the-World.
Timber-sleds tracks across slopes
In the meantime, timber sleds need to be made aware (and some backcountry riders too!) that it is NOT SAFE to sidehill steep slopes. There is a BIG-BIG-BIG difference when sleds go uphill/downhill on a slope in contrast to going across the full slope width in what appears to be an attempt at finding the weak spot in the slope. And the awareness needs to also include the fact that timber sleds are required "snowmobile" registrations. And that state of Idaho requirement is being short-circuited by some timber sled users. I close this topic asking the snowmobile community to try to mentor the timber sled users. I realize it is unfair to ask you to carry this burden, but the truth is that you are in a better position than the backcountry skiing community, since motorized users share the same passion for winter recreation with power machines.

Monday, March 5, 2018

3rd Avalanche Level 1 course at Mores Creek Summit

Sunday, March 4 we completed the 3rd Avalanche Level 1 course at Mores Creek Summit. The snow conditions were fun and we had a dynamic snowpack that provided lots of opportunities to hone the course participants stability assessment skills.

Jeremy and Brendon successfully completed the Avalanche Science's Level 1 course. They demonstrated that they can produce a travel plan, generate avalanche risk assessment using the Avalanche Conceptual Model, and reliably complete a full rescue of a single victim buried at 1.2 meters in less than 5 minutes, earning them a certification in addition to their AIARE diploma.

During the three days, we skied some of the best lines at Winter Corner, Summit Creek Glades, Lamar Ridge, and Whoop Um Up Steep headwaters. The snow was consistently good at all elevations and aspects.
AVIL120180302 from Santiago Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Last weekend the snowpack conditions were ideal to observe weak layer rounding and sintering of precipitation particles responsible for a "storm slab" problems at elevations below 7000 feet. At elevations above 7500 feet, the storm slab continued to be reactive, with CTEQ1 results at 30-35 and 60-65 cm depths. Colder temperatures (-10 Deg-C) slowed down the rounding/sintering and settlement of the snowpack. In contrast, at 6100 feet there was as much as 10 cm of settlement (densification, NOT whumpfing) in the snowpack.
Snowpit at shallower low elevation terrain.
At shallow lower elevations, the early season depth hoar continues to be reactive to stability tests, but not at mid elevations (7000 feet). Above 7500 feet, slopes with north component continue to produce evidence of instability for propagation at the 1-meter depth (from the early season depth hoar event).

The course participants were challenged by the variable distribution of wind and deep persistent slabs but were able to select terrain in excess of 30 degrees to keep pow skiing exciting. Evaluation of storm slab became routine with their new found knowledge and stability assessment skills.
High elevation terrain - Steeper and deeper snowpack.
There have been in Idaho a number of avalanche incidents during the last few days. Below I share a picture from a skier triggered avalanche from last Sunday. The party involved want to remain anonymous. Fortunately, the two persons involved were not harmed by the avalanche. They recognized their mistake and will be taking an avalanche course soon.

The avalanche in the above picture did not occur at MCS. Apparently, some assumed it had. I did not provide details to protect the anonymity of a friend. For reference, I include the information shared on FB:
This avalanche occurred to somebody I ski with in the backcountry. My friend was skiing with another person last Sunday. I should highlight - my friend is an experienced skier and knew they entered avalanche terrain. But my friend was skiing with another person that went the wrong way and triggered the avalanche at a low 30's slope with a lower elevation northerly aspect. The person that triggered the slide hold to a tree, and was unharmed from the D2 slide.

The avalanche failed at the facet layer below the new snow. The distribution of this persistent slab is variable. I observed it last Friday at Sunset Peak burnt areas characterized as snow fetching areas due to the recent NE winds. These low elevation shallow areas are NOT where we expect them to be! Skiers need to visually identify snow transported areas (ablation and accumulation) and continue checking for what's BELOW the new snow. Hand pits baby, hand pits.

This posting should encourage many to finally participate in an avalanche course. There is finally an avalanche education provider close to Boise.
Avalanche Science Course Line-up for March
There are no excuses anymore such as that providers are too far away in Stanley and McCall. At the same time, the courses at Mores Creek Summit are very effective due to their small group size and availability of terrain less than 20 minutes from the Idaho City classroom.

I would like to take this opportunity to thanks the crew of IDT-Idaho City for their fabulous job in extending the pull-out at the Winter Corner location. This was a busy weekend and your job kept skiers safer and made driving easier for drivers using I-21!
Winter Corner Parking
This is a great example of IDT being pro-active, and Stuart and his crew deserve a lot of credit. The conversations about winter recreation and parking needs before the snow came in are paying off! Furthermore, it was encouraging to notice that backcountry skiers are using the parking area in a manner that maximizes the pull-out parking capacity. Kudos to all!