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Avalanche: Turnagain

Location: Sunburst

Date:
Observer:
Route & General Observations

Standard uptrack to 3200′ on the west ridge, just below the last steep pitch (turned around because of shooting crack). Skied SW aspect first lap, W aspect second lap. High spatial variability (wind effect).

Avalanche Details
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Trigger NaturalAvalanche Type Unknown
Aspect EastElevation 3000ft
Slope AngleunknownCrown Depthunknown
WidthunknownVertical Rununknown
Avalanche Details

Small (D1) natural avalanche in a gully on Seattle Ridge directly across from Sunburst. (Did not see it happen, just a small debris pile, below a cornice).

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

Observed small shooting cracks (10 ft radius) on the leeward (west) side of the lower Sunburst ridge and on the last steep pitch before the north summit cone.

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

No precip, scattered clouds in the AM trending to broken clouds in the PM. No wind at the parking lot in the AM trending to light winds starting at alder line.

Snow surface

2-3" of new low density snow at treeline, 5-6" in the alders, 6"+/- in the alpine, depending on wind effect. Higher elevations SW aspect (above the highest small trees poking out) had generally poor quality skiing (punchy, wind effected). Good skiing in sheltered areas below 3000 ft elevation on the W aspect. Cross loading was obvious across the Turnagain area (Hippy Bowl on Tincan looked remarkably wind affected and pillowed, Magnum looked heavily cross loaded on the N aspect. Heavy cross loading on E aspect of Seattle Ridge.)

Snowpack

Pole probe tests, handpits, and ski penetration revealed a noticeable density change between old and new snow; however, the new snow was F hard in areas that were not wind effected. Wind effected areas on the leeward side of the west ridge had shallow wind slabs (2-6") that cracked around skis, and had two or three shooting cracks in a 10 ft radius. Sometimes the wind slabs were covered with light fresh snow and others were exposed on the surface. The new snow became noticeably more consolidated throughout the day, perhaps due to warming.

Photos & Video
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