Observation: Portage / Placer

Location: Placer Valley - Squirrel Flats/Glacier

Route & General Observations

Quick ride up into the Placer Valley and into Squirrel area to see how what the New Year’s crust looked like and any other surface issues like wind slabs or sluffs.

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

Cracking seen in many small wind drifts scatted about above the treeline. Cracks were generally shooting out only 2-6 feet as drifts seen were relatively small.

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

Sunny skies, cold temps (single digits), and light westerly breeze.
Stronger west breeze (10mph) along the high ridgelines.

Snow surface

The snow surface consisted of several inches of variable wind blown snow over the New Year's crust. In most areas the wind blown snow was soft.
The crust was found everywhere we rode, high point 4,000'. It was thin (5mm) and translucent in most locations and thicker (2-3cm) and opaque in some other places. Where it was thin, it was more of an impermeable rain/drizzle crust (see photo).


We did not dig any pits, just assessed the surface conditions.
The only signs of avalanche activity from the winds were the sluffs off the rocks in steep terrain and what appeared to be some small wind slabs that were hard to see as the crowns were blown back in.

It will be interesting to see how faceted the loose snow on the crust becomes with the cold and clear weather over the region. This could be a very concerning future weak layer and bed surface.

Photos & Video
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