Observation: Summit

Location: Manitoba Mountain (60.68300, -149.44652)

Route & General Observations

A somewhat harrowing drive in the rain and slush, but it was snowing at the base of Manitoba. We took our time skinning up the Manitoba Mountain trail to 2200 ft elevation (open slopes, but shy of treeline). We saw another group of 5-6 people on the slope with two dogs. The snow was very wet, dense, and sticky, and snow pillows on the huts had noticeably deflated from the start to the finish of our trip.

Contact, Location & General Observations
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Forecaster Comments

Pit was at 2200'

*If digging a pit in the Summit Lake region we recommend digging a minimum of a 100cm or deeper. There are two layers of buried surface hoar that have well over 50cm snow covering them and one of these layer is verging on deep slab depths of close to 1 Meter.

Red Flags
Red flags are simple visual clues that are a sign of potential avalanche danger. Please record any sign of red flags below.
Obvious signs of instability
Recent Avalanches?Yes
Collapsing (Whumphing)?No
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

We saw many previous avalanche debris piles on the drive out and on adjacent montains, but none on Manitoba up to this elevation. We stopped short of tree line and visibility was poor looking uphill, so not really sure about the upper elevations.

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

When we started, the bottom was getting big, heavy flakes of snow that were melting instantly on contact. At 2200ft, in the open slopes we had variable wind (5-25 mph) and snow (light to heavy and coming down pretty hard), and we nearly saw the sun come out once, other times visibility was poor). Where we stopped it was just below freezing, about 30 F. At the bottom at 4:30pm it was close to 40 F and raining, the snow was deflated, and the stream was strikingly more open than at the start of our day.

Snow surface

Ski penetration was ~20 cm. Boot penetration was full-leg length. Pole tests all the way up to ~1800 ft were very consistent with ~30 cm of heavy new snow on a thin melt-freeze crust. Above ~1800ft the crust disappeared and it felt very homogenous. Skiing conditions were sinky, sticky, and on turns the snow would compact into tiny stair steps. It felt like skiing a washboard.


Total depth of the snowpack was well beyond the 240 cm probe. We dug a pit to 120 cm. At this location and depth, we didn't find the buried surface hoar noted in previous observations, but we probably should have dug down another foot or so to find it. From the top down, we had 25 cm F, 35 cm 4F, and 55 cm 1F. No ice layers or crusts at this particular spot, it was boringly homogenous.

Extended column test showed surface snow failure at ECTN2 at the new snow transition about 20 cm down with no propagation. We got propagation of a surface bulge at ECTP23, at a depth of 45 cm on a density change, but the block didn't actually fail and slide off. Seven more shoulder hits didn't budge it either. It was sticky!

Photos & Video
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