Observation: Portage / Placer

Location: Portage Valley

Route & General Observations

Touring around treeline in the Portage Valley today. Lots of blowing snow and active loading kept us modest with our terrain objectives for the day. We dug a pit on a north aspect around 1350′ and were surprised to still get some reactive test results on the 3/30 interface that hasn’t produced avalanches in nearly 10 days. The tests took a lot of force (ECTP28), but the fractures were clean and high-energy. This doesn’t seem like a widespread problem in the rest of the advisory area, but it is worth keeping in mind and assessing if you are planning on getting out in the Portage 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)?Yes
Observer Comments

Small wind slabs on steep test slopes. 2-6" deep, 20-30' wide.

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

Stormy day. Strong easterly winds with steady snowfall all day. Maybe an inch of snow while we were out. Snow down to the road.

Snow surface

Wet, spring-like snow up to about 900'. 6-8" heavy, moist storm snow above that. We triggered some small wind slabs on short test slopes that were 2-6" deep and 20-30' wide. We encountered fresh wind slabs that were up to 2 feet deep, but didn't test those in any terrain that was steep enough to make an avalanche. We only went up to around 1500' elevation.


From our snowpit at 1350' on a north aspect:
Total depth ~5m (17'). This was in a location that had likely seen some wind loading over the winter, but not a crazy amount. It just snows a lot there! The snowpack was generally dry and right side up, but the crust that was buried on 3/30 had a soft layer of mixed facets and melt forms just under the hard slab of settled snow. This was about 2.5' deep in our pit (see photo). That layer produced stubborn but propagating results in two tests (ECTP28, ECTP31 with a bonus tap). The snowpack still has a long ways to go in its transition to a springtime snowpack.

Photos & Video
Please upload photos below. Maximum of 5 megabytes per image. Click here for help on resizing images. If you are having trouble uploading please email images separately to staff.