Multiple Skier-Triggered Wet Loose Slides in Gulf of Slides

By Austin Hart

Date of Observation: March 26, 2020  11:30 AM
Location of Observation: Main Gully, #1

Two skier-triggered wet loose avalanches occurred between 11:30 and 13:30 Thursday, March 26, 2020 on the Main Gully of Gulf of Slides. Neither caught or carried skiers. One ran about 500ft on an E facing path lookers left of the primary slide path. The other ran about 300ft on a SE face down the middle of the primary slide path. The slides both started from point releases as small slough. Because of the smooth, hard bed surface and wet heavy consistency of the snow, the slough slowly pushed downhill picking up more snow as it slid. The debris piles moved in slow motion never picking up more speed than a downhill skier. The debris piles came to rest high up in the run out of the Main Gully. Debris pile was 6″-18″ thick.

There was 4-8″ of snow on top of the old bed surface that had been sun-exposed during the morning hours. The top of the snow was fairly wet with drier, more powdery snow beneath. Hand shears showed some bonding to the hard layer beneath.

There were many ski tracks down the Main Gully from the day before (visible in photo).


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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