Observation: Girdwood

Location: Notch

Route & General Observations

Cat track up to about 2300′. Light mist/drizzle for most of the way in turned into a steady rain at the first big meadow. Rain level was around 1600′, and it was snowing probably an inch an hour above 2000′. Strong easterly winds were blowing snow above 1800′ or so. Fresh wind slabs were reactive on steep test slopes, with shooting cracks and small slabs releasing.

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

I was able to get shooting cracks and some small slabs to release on steep wind-loaded test slopes. They were breaking 6-8" deep and picking up loose wet snow on their way down.

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

A light drizzle intensified to steady rain by about 1:00 p.m. at approx. 1200'. The rain seemed to let up on the way back down too, so there were most likely some orographic effects happening there. Heavy snowfall (~1"/hr) above 2000'. Winds were blowing about 15 mph out of the east.

Snow surface

The top 2" of the snow was saturated up to about 1800'. Above 2000' there was about a half inch of new snow on top of a supportable crust that was actually skiing well.


No formal pits today, but I did do some quick hand pits to see how deep the moisture was making it in the snowpack. I found 2-3" saturated snow on the surface, sitting on top of 6-8" moist snow, which was on top of drier snow. Fresh wind slabs were reactive on steep test slopes (see photos). Below 1800', large pinwheels were rolling down next to me as I skied. Some of them were getting close to 2' tall before they broke.

Photos & Video
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