Developing wind slabs, right side of Tuckerman Ravine

By Frank Carus

Date of Observation: January 1, 2020  1:00 PM
Location of Observation: SSE facing slope between Right Gully and Lobster Claw, 4800′, Tuckerman Ravine

Weather:
Light to moderate snowfall, mostly rimed particles and full round graupel and blowing snow. 20-30mph+ in our location, 60-80mph westerly on the summit.
Snowpack:
“Whumpfing” (x4) and shooting cracks observed. Surface wind slabs to 6″ were particularly reactive though the 24-36″ deep slab of new snow and lots of pooled graupel were of most concern. Icy bed surface was felt down up to 36″. We avoided all runouts and overhead hazards and skied the 30 degree slope.


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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