Observation: Turnagain

Location: Eddie's

Route & General Observations

We toured up Eddie’s Ridge to get a look at recent storm totals and try to get a sense of how reactive the weak layer is that developed during the January cold snap. We dug a ton of quick pits and found mixed results. The most likely place to trigger an avalanche is likely up in the alpine, where that weak snow was capped by a wind slab from last week’s wind event and then buried with a fresh round of light fluffy snow. We also found very weak snow buried about a foot deep down at lower elevations (800 feet), but the new snow on top was too soft to do anything in a stability test.

The jury is still out on the weak layer (which we are referring to as the Jan. 28 layer). We’ll be paying close attention to it for the next few days, and playing it safe terrain-wise until we have more confidence that it won’t produce avalanches.

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

Steady snow this morning with mostly calm winds. Snow stopped right around noon and the sun came out for a bit in the afternoon. Valley clouds moved in mid-afternoon and winds remained light.

Snow surface

There was roughly 6-10" new snow over the past week. This was surprisingly consistent, and we did not encounter any noticeable windblown layers on the surface during our travels today.


*See attached snowpit profiles for detailed information.

We ended up digging a bunch of pits today at elevations from 800 to 2600 feet. The 1/28 weak layer was most advanced at the lowest elevations. It was about 10" thick with 2mm facets, and was capped by a layer of 6-8 mm surface hoar. The layer of new snow on top was too soft to make any kind of result in stability tests, but that structure was concerning.

We did not find any wind-effected snow in our mid elevation pits that we dug at around 1800'. The 1/28 layer was more firm and the grains were smaller (only about 0.2mm). Stability in these two pits actually looked quite good.

The pits we dug in the alpine seemed to show the snowpack most likely to make an avalanche. We found an older wind slab from the end of last week buried by about 6-8" soft snow, all sitting on the 1/28 facets. This propagated in one out of three pits (ECTP20).

All in all, It seemed like if someone is going to run into trouble it will be where there is a stiffer slab sitting on the 1/28 layer. This layer seems weakest at the low elevations that remained shelterd during the January drought, but the most likely place to find a stiff enough slab to make an avalanche is probably at higher elevations.

Photos & Video
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