Shooting Cracks on Mt. Willard

By Nick Aiello-Popeo | Synnott Mountain Guides

Date of Observation: February 6, 2020  12:00 PM
Location of Observation: The ledge below Upper Hitchcock Gully

Today at 2,400 feet on an eastern aspect of Mt. Willard the snow exhibited shooting cracks and tiny human-triggered slab avalanches (see photos). This was most evident in slough piles below gullies and cliff faces. Though there only seemed to have been ~8cm of precipitation in the last 24 hours, slough piles and wind drifts exhibited a 12-25cm layer of 1F DF above an 8cm layer of fist-hard precipitation particles. A rain crust was below this.


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.


See an avalanche or evidence of previous avalanche activity?  Near-miss? Snowpack observations?

Your observations are valuable to an accurate forecast! We welcome observations from everyone. You don’t need to be an avalanche professional to submit helpful observations, just be as detailed and accurate as you can.