Avalanche: Turnagain

Location: Pastoral

Route & General Observations

We toured up to Pastoral via Taylor Pass and skied the south side down and out Bertha Creek. We saw plenty of big terrain during the day, with only two recent natural avalanches on the next bowl to the east of Pastoral (SW aspect, 4000′). One of which looked to have failed during yesterday’s winds, the other may have been a few days older. We dug a pit on a SW aspect at 4400′ and found the New Year’s crust buried about 2′ deep, with a series of old wind slabs on top of it. We got no results in our stability tests, and did not see any shooting cracks or any collapses during our travels.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger NaturalRemote Trigger No
Avalanche Type Soft SlabAspect Southwest
Elevation 4000ftSlope Angleunknown
Crown Depth 24inWidth 200ft
Vertical Run 700ft  
Avalanche Details

Two natural wind slabs in the bowl to the east of Pastoral. One looked to have released within the past 24 hours, and was right under a large cornice. The other was in a steep gully a bit farther below a different large cornice, and may have been a few days older.

Red Flags
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Obvious signs of instability
Recent Avalanches?Yes
Collapsing (Whumphing)?No
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

One avalanche in the past 24 hours. We saw a lot of terrain. No cracks/collapses on wind-loaded slopes along the way.

Weather & Snow Characteristics
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Thin clouds broke up through the day, giving way to plenty of sunshine. Winds were calm, with the occasional light breeze out of variable directions.

Snow surface

Most of the surfaces above about 2000' had seen some kind of wind loading over the past week. For the most part these were soft (4F) wind slabs around 6" thick, but as we gained elevation we started seeing stiffer (1F hardness) wind slabs.


Old wind slabs were shearing on a layer of low-density storm snow about 6" deep in hand pits on the way up Taylor Pass, and walking past Taylor Pass towards Pastoral. We did not notice this soft interface in our snowpit on a west aspect at 4400', where winds had been stronger. HS in our pit was 310 cm, and the New Year's crust was buried 2' deep. We did not notice any faceting above or below the crust.

The 1/25 fog crust was very present about 6" below some low-density snow from 1500'-2000 (ish)' walking up the valley towards Taylor Pass. It was not present in any of our handpits once we got above 3000'. This is different from what I saw on Sunburst last Saturday, where the fog crust was easy to spot up to our high point at 3200'. Maybe the cloud that formed that fog crust didn't make it over Taylor Pass??

Photos & Video
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