Natural avalanches in GofS

By Sarah Goodnow

Date of Observation: March 6, 2019  10:00 AM
Location of Observation: Gulf of Slides #1, #2, South Snowfield

I found new debris in the bottom of Gully #1 and Gully #2. There was none in the south snowfield and I did not travel in any area north of #2. Debris in both gullies was wind affected but with some chunky wind slab evident. Debris pile in #1 was considerably less chunky and smaller than #2, leading me to think it was a softer slab that ran earlier in the period of wind loading than #2.

#2 had old surface (as in- the extra firm wind slab left after the 170mph wind event) as the primary surface in the lower 1/2 of the path. #1 had hardly any old surface exposed. #1 and the upper 1/2 of #2 had varying depths of 1F+ wind slab on top of a few cm of fist density snow and in places, up to 1 cm new snow blowing around on the surface. Pockets of softer wind slab could be found in the loosely treed ridges between gullies. Those pockets propagated cracks but weren’t inclined to slide.


ABOUT THESE OBSERVATIONS

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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