Avalanche: Portage / Placer

Location: Placer Valley

Route & General Observations

We rode out to Spencer Glacier to check out surface conditions in the Placer Valley. The river is opening up and there were limited easy crossing opportunities. I watched one wet loose avalanche occur at about 500’ on a steep southwest facing slope. On my drive back to the south there was new wet loose activity and a new glide avalanche on a southeast facing slope at about 1,500’ on Seattle Ridge.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger NaturalRemote Trigger Unknown
Avalanche Type Wet Loose SnowAspect Southwest
Elevation 1000ftSlope Angleunknown
Crown DepthunknownWidthunknown
Vertical Rununknown  
Avalanche Details

I observed a wet loose avalanche on a steep southwest facing slope that had a lot of exposed rocks.

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

wet loose activity

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

Clear skies and calm wind in the valley. Temperatures likely reached 40 F where we were travelling below 500’.

Snow surface

We began our ride at around noon, so the surface was softening after a hard freeze the night before. By 3pm when we started to head back towards the trailhead, we found some really warm snow at about 500’ on a south facing slope with knee deep boot penetration, yikes. Close to the glacier we found some surface hoar that was melting in the sun.


We didn’t dig any formal pits. There were many recent wet loose avalanches on east, south, and west facing slopes. The knee-deep boot penetration was a clear sign that the snowpack at that elevation was becoming weak and we needed to move to a colder aspect to find more stable conditions.

Photos & Video
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