Based on recent weather and observations we decided to tour out of Independence mine up towards Microdot. We dug two pits right next to each other one with a deeper snowpack and no stability test failures, and mine which was shallower with the details listed in the observation. Based on my pit, I assessed that the snowpack was unstable and we should avoid steeper terrain. If we would have only used the data from my partner’s pit, we might not have been as conservative. We discussed risk, assessed a recent avalanche on Microdot, and watched a few skiers ski a line to the looker’s left of the line that slid (prior to the avalanche), and deemed it safe. As we began our skin up, we saw it slide and witnessed the skier barely out ski the avalanche debris. We decided that our chosen line was probably safe to ski, but there were enough red flags, so we chose to err on the side of caution and skied off the lower bench back to the truck.
Overall it was good lesson in risk management, the complexity of terrain and weather, good group communication, and conservative decision-making in the backcountry.
Skier and another witness already submitted observations.
Not in the party involved
|Cracking (Shooting cracks)?||No|
Few clouds and calm winds, temp -5 deg C.
Loose powder and new ~8cm wind crust
Pit: 3900' on Microdot, east aspect, 16 deg slope, snow depth ~115cm
CT11, Q2 @ 62cm
PST: 75cm END @ 62cm