Shoestring Well Filled In

By Nick Aiello-Popeo | Synnott Mountain Guides

Date of Observation: December 19, 2018  10:30 AM
Location of Observation: Shoestring Gully at c. 2,200′

Shoestring Gully is in great, snowy condition for December. It showed signs of recent avalanche activity and windslab formation. A mitt pit at around 2,200′ in the first snowfield of the gully (WSW aspect) showed layers of one-finger-hardness windslab (about 30cm total depth) above 20cm of fist-hard facets. It took a fair amount of force to get the wind slab to shear from the facets below. (see photo)

Higher in this same snowfield was avy debris that we guess to be a day or two old. I’d estimate the debris to be about 25m in length, 5m in width, and varying from 30 to 100cm deep. The crown line may have been at the base of the next ice bulge. We couldn’t determine a trigger, but the debris made for good crampon-ing.


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.