Observation: Girdwood

Location: Max's Treeline-Alpine

Route & General Observations

10:00-Standard Uptrack through Virgin Creek Trailhead to Alder Meadows. We intended on skiing Mount Hibbs but decided to ski Max’s SW face for two laps due to time and wind-loaded/scoured conditions. Great skiing overall, but the face is heavily wind-packed in isolated areas, with visible surface hoar (SH) to 2,500ft.

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?No
Collapsing (Whumphing)?Yes
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

We encountered whumphing at approx 2,000 feet on a wind-compacted, hard surface on a SW Aspect.
Recent Dry-Loose Point releases from both Skier-triggered and natural releases on all aspects throughout the Virgin Creek Valley (Orca/Max's) to include SS and HS crowns on Mount Hibbs.

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

Clear skies all day.
No Precip.
Calm to light winds (<5mph) from W & SW encountered above 2,500-3,000ft on Max's once exposed above ridgline.

Snow surface

Uptrack to Alder meadows is consistent to skin with short portions of boot-packing for efficiency.
Surface hoar is visible and obvious until 2,000ft+, with .5-1" feathers growing on surface and alders/trees.
No riming on trees above 2,000ft, possibly due to Inversion and sun exposure.
Surface hoar is hard to find under magnification above 2,600ft.
Variable from 2,000ft+ as wind-crusts, SH, and near-surface-faceting (NSF) were encountered.
Styrofoam-esque ,wind-packed crusts were frequent on the SW uptrack to Max's Wx Station.


Two informal snowpack assessments were conducted to evaluate the unique conditions.

1: 12:30, HS 240cm, W Aspect, 3,075 ft. Slope 30º, -11ºC
CT 24 SP. 40cm below surface on Facets (LOC)

2: 14:55, HS205, W Aspect, 2,560ft, Slope 30°, -9°C
See Hardness Profile Photo

Overall there is a 30cm F-1F wind compacted slab sitting from surface to a 2cm MF Crust with .5-1mm Facets, both above and below.
Additionally, there is a MF crust with facets above and below, 105cm below surface .
There is a MF layer approx 30cm thick from Base up, and could not accurately find basal facets, but I intend on searching for SBSH, Basal facets and conducting further tests on this 30-40cm LOC.

Photos & Video
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