Observation: Girdwood

Location: Orca

Route & General Observations

Toured up to the ridge on Orca to about 2700′. We found a weak layer of facets about 2′ deep at treeline, but we did not get any concerning stability test results on the layer. Other than the facet layer the snowpack was deep and strong where we stopped to dig. There was an icy crust at lower elevations that made travel a little challenging.

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

Temperatures were in the low 30s F at the car and the low 20s at 2700', where we turned around. Winds were light to moderate, with active snow transport along ridgelines and exposed areas above treeline. Light snow started around 1 pm and continued until we left at 3 pm.

Snow surface

There was a strong, icy crust up to about 500', so we switched between skinning and booting in the forest. From 500' to 1500' there was still an ice crust in the upper snowpack, but it had anywhere from 2-10" of soft snow on top. Above 1500' the crust went away. From 1500' to 2700' sheltered areas had 8-12" of soft snow and exposed areas had lightly wind affected snow.


We dug a set of pits at 2500'. About 2' deep we found a layer of buried facets that are probably the persistent interface from 1/3 which we have been tracking for the past week or so. Our stability tests did not have any failures in that layer, which is a good sign for this location. However, persistent weak layers can become active again after a new snow load.

Photos & Video
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