Wind slab activity in the ravine.

December 28, 2021 at 12:00 PM
Name: Peter Dunbar
Location: Chute between chute variation sourh and “the chute”

Our party arrived at the bowl at 11am with the intention of getting eyes on the snowpack and seeing what has been filled in. We dug a quick pit for a visual and noticed 1CM if new snow from the evening and flurries of the morning. The new snow was pretty light despite the fog/humidity. Due to low visibility and a general caution for wind we decided to hike up snowfield that enters the chute that cliffs/ices out less than halfway up the bowl between the south chute variation and “the chute” as to ensure there was no one above us. Hand shears as we hiked up the skiers left of this area displayed the new/wind blown snow was about 1 inch and we did not get it to propagate however in hindsight we should have been more diligent to recognize its ability to vary on the other side of the chute based on the wind direction. We transitioned at 11:30am part of the way up this chute due to it narrowing and appearing increasing depth of wind blown snow. The first skier did a number of strong stomps to discover no cracking or movement. However, on the fourth turn the first skier cracked off a small wind slab that varied from about 1 to 3+ inches stemming from the skiers right of the area and ran down the run, not carrying the skier. To the party member above it appeared like not much more than slough until boot packing down and seeing the crown of the slab. We exited the bowl and on the way down talked to a party heading up before taking the sherb down.

Our hindsight tells us that this was exactly the kind of isolated and sheltered area mentioned in the forecast. The wind and precip had us proceeding with what we saw as appropriate caution, but our inexperience resulted in a failed understanding of the variables in front of us. It is certainly and learning moment for the two of us, particularly when it comes to managing wind effected snow, it’s variability, and the heuristics of wanting to gain first hand understanding of weather and snowpack with limited experience. I write this observation having been humbled by this experience and I see it as a valuable speed check for myself value at this point in the season/ my life.