Observation: Turnagain

Location: Magnum

Route & General Observations

Sunburst parking lot across Taylor creek and up the NW ridge of Magnum to 3300′.

Mostly to partly cloudy, calm wind, no precipitation, temperatures in the low 30’s.

Obvious Signs of Instability:
Recent Avalanches: No
Collapsing: No
Cracking: No

Surface Observations:
Snow cover has moved up a couple hundred feet above sunburst parking lot – we had to hike to around
1500′ before putting skis on. Up to 2000′ the entire snowpack is saturated with liquid water present. From
2000′ to 3000′ the surface is variable from ankle deep slushy snow to firm supportable crust. Above 3000′
a solid 3-4cm melt freeze crust exists.

Kook-Aid test?? This is a great snow geek test for wet snow and was performed at 3200′. Although there was
already a surface crust present, ten minutes after spraying the surface with colored water we could clearly see
the water percolate through the crust then pool and run downhill in the top 5cm of the pack. There existed
some melt forms below the crust that had not yet frozen – this is where the water was running. What does
this mean? Before the meltwater began to freeze there was rollerballing and possibly some wet loose avalanche
activity, but now with a crust, it means scratchy skiing and slide-for-life conditions on steep slopes.

Below the Surface:
At 2500′ on a leeward W aspect the snowpack is variable in depth (scoured to the ground to 6′ deep) and is
moist to wet. Freezing was just beginning and this will turn these elevations into a more uniform and
strong snowpack. There were not any discernible weak layers within the top 3 ft of the snowpack in wind
loaded zones.

Higher up on a SW aspect at 3250′ the layering from before this storm was more intact. We found two
layers of buried surface hoar, one at 35cm deep and one at 60cm deep. The shallower (35cm deep) layer
was reactive in snowpit tests (ECTN 26 RP, ECTP 24 RP) – meaning high strength and low to moderate
energy with inconsistent propagation potential. The lower layer was not reactive, even with ‘boot’ hard
impacts. This layering and colder snow was found underneath a 3-4cm supportable surface crust and would
be very hard for a person’s weight to impact.

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