Observation: Summit

Location: Gilpatrick North

Route & General Observations

We toured up to treeline on Gilpatrick N. We noticed around 4-6″ new snow on top of a firm melt/freeze crust, with some wind-deposited snow up to a foot deep. There was a new crust on the surface up to around 2000′. We didn’t see any fresh avalanches, but visibility was very limited. Above 2000′ we noticed the dry new snow was sluffing on the crust on steeper slopes. We dug two pits on a northeast aspect at 2500′ and found several layers of crusts and weak faceted snow that gave mixed results in stability tests.

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

Low cloud ceiling moving in and out between 2000' and 4000'. Winds were calm, with steady snowfall maybe amounting to an inch of accumulation over the ~4 hours we were out. Temps were warm, it felt like it was just barely cold enough to be snowing.

Snow surface

Borderline supportable surface crust up to 2000'. 4-6" new snow on an older crust above 2000', up to a foot deep on slopes that had been wind-loaded over the past week.


The new and winblown snow sitting on top of last week's melt/freeze crust was giving us mixed signals. On one hand, it was difficult to pry off in hand pits and did not produce propagating test results. All good signs. But, when we did get the new snow to shear in our hand pits it popped right out on a very smooth plane every time. We still didn't quite trust it, but it seems like it is becoming more stubborn and less likely to make an avalanche. We also noticed multiple layers of crusts with rounding facets above or below. These are showing signs of gaining strength and seem like they will either need a big loading event or a major warm-up to become reactive. We got one unstable result (ECTP11) on a layer buried about a foot deep, just below a crust. This was in a spot with a much thinner snowpack. We did not get concerning test results in a snowpit that seemed to be closer to 'average' depth for the area.

The big caveat is that the majority of our snowpit info in Summit is coming from below 2500' or so, so there is still a bit of uncertainty with what these layers look like in the alpine.

Photos & Video
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