Graupel layer below Left Gulley.

By Tony Jewell | Northeast Mountaineering

Date of Observation: December 18, 2019  1:30 PM
Location of Observation: Climbers left, near base of Left Gulley, north aspect about 4600′.

We observed anywhere from about 10cm to 30cm of new snow on top of the Dec 15 crust in the area below The Chute and Left Gulley. (The crust varied from about 5cm to 20cm thick depending on aspect and was knife hard.) Multiple hand shears and tests indicated that the new snow was bonding fairly well to the crust although there was a pretty dramatic layer of graupel in places on top of the crust (see photos). Of course yesterday’s hurricane force winds probably changed everything. Tests: CTM Q2 32cm down, ETCN14 32cm down on the graupel layer.


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.

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center cannot verify the quality or accuracy of any observations that come from the general public.


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