NNE & SSE Aspects on Boot Spur

By Jeff Fongemie | MWAC

Date of Observation: March 2, 2020  11:00 AM
Location of Observation: Gully on north side of Boott Spur and Gully on South side of Boott Spur

We climbed a long snow gully left of Dodges Drop in Tuckerman Ravine to the Boott Spur ridge, looking for wind slab formation out of curiosity as this slope has a similar aspect as Escape Hatch in Huntington Ravine, which avalanched naturally during the recent Feb 27 storm: https://mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/mwac-observations/entry/2487/

This slope did not avalanche during this storm, the deep trench terrain trap at the bottom is not filled with snow. No sign of debris. In the gully itself, we found wind slabs formed from recent snow over the weekend mostly 1F down 10-40 cm over several cm 4F in places, sometimes over water ice. These slabs were wall to wall in places, and found to be thicker/softer lookers right. The top 200′ the snowpack is heavily wind effected turning to a thick ice crust on the ridge. We chose to climb left out onto the rocky side of the gully to avoid the snowpack in last few hundred feet near the top. We did not ski the slope.

From the Boott Spur Ridge, we down climbed with crampons on very hard icy snow for the first 200′ of a “finger” in the Gulf of Slides. When the snow became soft enough for boot penetration we donned skis and skied the slope. Snow in this gully, with a SSE aspect was pencil hard down 10-20cm , then 1F down to the crust bed surface.


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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