Observation: Girdwood

Location: Notch Mtn.

Route & General Observations

We toured up to about 2300′ and enjoyed some low-angle pow. We saw some large recent avalanches on Goat and A1, which appeared to have released sometime on the tail end of the 12/9 storm. Most of the area at and below treeline was sheltered from recent winds, but the upper elevations and surrounding areas looked to have been hit harder. A quick investigation showed similar snowpack structure on Notch as we have been seeing throughout the area.

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 large recent avalanches on Goat and A1. The avalanches had propagated wide and deep. Although it was hard to say from a distance, it looks like the crown on A1 was in the 6'+ range. Stomping around on small but steep test slopes, we were unable to get anything to crack or move.

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

Mostly sunny and cold. Light westerly winds along the ridgetop kept us moving pretty quick with transitions.

Snow surface

About 8" of soft snow on slopes that were sheltered from winds. Obvious signs of recent wind transport above treeline.


We didn't spend time digging today (too cold to stop moving!), but a few pit stops to probe around were showing the same snowpack characteristics that we have been seeing throughout the area:

- Soft snow on top. Only 8" on Notch, which is less than what I would expect to see in other places like Turnagain or Placer.
- 3-4' thick stiff slab. This was sitting on top of a 8-10" thick layer of weak snow. You could really feel the probe drop through that weak layer once it punched through the slab.
- Stout crust 4-5' deep.
- Total snow depth was about 200 cm at 1800' and closer to 240 cm at just above 2000'.

That setup with a thick, stiff slab sitting on top of weak snow was enough to keep us sticking to mellow terrain.

Photos & Video
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