Rumford Whitecap

February 14, 2021 at 3:00 PM
Name: Stuart C Johnson| East Coast Avalanche Education Center
Location: Bottom of Waterfall ski run Rumford Whitecap

We toured up the Rumford Whitecap from the south. The skin track was slippery sidehilling. I did a series of hand pits at a variety of aspects and elevations. Exposed southerly slopes had sun crusts. There was a significant amount of wind board up high. The steep south east slopes that avalanched during the prior storm had reloaded somewhat, however the old crowns and debris piles were still visible.
What mostly stood out to me was the abundance of facets on different aspects. These facets were especially well developed under a thin wind crust on the steep rock slab potential avalanche starting zones of Waterfall and Smokestack. (see picture)
When we skied near Waterfall, any untracked snow was soft “loud powder”, also known as near surface facets. If I turned hard, I would immediately punch through to the ground, indicating a very weak snow pack. When I dug down, I found that every layer of snow, including 2 significant crusts were deteriorating and were almost entirely facets. While this structure was not a problem currently, if we get a significant load of snow on these slopes during the upcoming storm, they could be unstable for quite some time.