Observation: Summit

Location: Colorado

Route & General Observations

It has been 4 days since Summit Pass has had a prolonged freeze. At the highway to 2000′ the snow was saturated with our boots sinking in above our shins to hips. Above 2000′ a wet crust was supportable under our skis and the snow beneath the crust was not as wet as lower elevations. South aspects were saturated above 2000′. We did not get concerning test results in our pit at 2300′. At 2700′ the crust was more supportable and about 0.5″ of snow was on the surface. A long freeze will improve the snowpack’s stability, especially below 2000′ and make skiing more enjoyable. No recent avalanches were observed.

Weather & Snow Characteristics
Please provide details to help us determine the weather and snowpack during the time this observation took place.

Cloudy skies with occasional patches of blue and sunshine. Light snow in the morning transitioning to rain/snow. The wind was calm with temperatures around 37 F at the highway.

Snow surface

The snow surface at lower elevations consisted of large, saturated snow crystals that will eventually freeze into a stout crust. Around 2000' the snow was more supportable with a 2" wet crust. As we continued the wet crust eventually got a little stiffer with about 0.5" of soft snow on top of it.


Essentially there are two different elevations where the snow is quite different. Below 2000' the snow was saturated and not supportable, with our boots penetrating from hip to shin deep. A crust buried 8" deep was barely intact, likely the President's Day crust. Above 2000' the snow consisted of a partly frozen crust with wet snow located below it. A buried crust layer was also observed as well as a moist layer of weak faceted snow. We go no concerning results in our pit at 2300' on a west slope (CT23 RP 4" deep on a layer of buried surface hoar, CT18 RP in weak snow, and ECTN 28 below a crust, possibly President's Day crust). The Thanksgiving crust was thin with softer moist snow above and below it. Total snow depth averaged 4' at this site (140cm). South aspects were saturated above 2000'.

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