Most of the usual areas at Turnagain Pass that people ski,
snowboard, and snowmachine have lots of tracks all over them
right now. This brings up a question of whether or not these
tracks will improve future stability because sometimes compaction
from tracks changes the stability of a slope; especially, in
places like ski resorts.
The anwser to this question is that it depends. Let’s take a
closer look at this WSW aspect of Windowmaker Peak on Seattle
Ridge, and think about our current situation. The weak layer of
biggest concern for future stability is the weaker snow on top of
the slippery rain crust. The top of Windowmaker Peak is about
2600 feet, and we know that the rain crust exists on this slope.
From my observations over the past week, skis and snowboards are
generally floating above the raincrust on the powder. The tracks
of snowmachines do sink down to the rain crust if you are really
roosting out, but not if you are carrying speed. This makes me
think that the rain crust is not being effected by ski,
snowboard, or snowmachine tracks enough to make any major changes
or improve stability on or above the rain crust.
I’ve seen pictures of mogul fields at ski resorts that avalanched
on a deeper weak layer; so, I would not reccomend making life or
death decisions based on compaction after these tracks get