Non-reactive Wind Slabs on Cinema Gully

By Nick Aiello-Popeo | Synnott Mountain Guides

Date of Observation: February 1, 2019  2:00 PM
Location of Observation: Mt. Willard’s South Face at 2,600′

I was guiding on Thursday and Friday on Mt. Willard’s Cinema and Cauliflower Gullies. Despite west winds building wind slabs on the SW aspect, the snow was not reactive. Wind slabs were soft (1F), 10 to 35 cm thick, and laying above a layer of fist-hard precip particles. Oddly enough, there appeared to be good cohesion between these layers and the rain crust below. We tried to make some test slopes move while breaking trail, but were surprised to not see anything exciting.


Snowpack observations are one part of the complex puzzle which is your decision to enter avalanche terrain. Some observations may include stability tests. It’s important to understand that the results of a stability tests are seldom conclusive anywhere, but particularly in snow climates and terrain like ours where the primary driver of instabilities is wind drifted snow. Many stability tests exist and each works best with specific avalanche problem types. Stability test results should never be used alone as an indication that a slope or conditions are safe particularly when more obvious red flags are present. Please use this page as part of your information gathering process, but don’t make decisions based on a single piece of information. A good article that summarizes some of the issues associated with snow and avalanche observations can be found here.

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