Avalanche: Turnagain

Location: Sunburst

Route & General Observations

Normal skin track on Sunburst.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger SkierRemote Trigger0
Avalanche Type Soft SlabAspect West
Elevation 3000ftSlope Angle 37deg
Crown Depth 24inWidth 100ft
Vertical Run 100ft  
Avalanche Details

I triggered a couple of house sized collapses and then a city block sized collapse at the top of the 10-15 degree willow slopes during the approach. These released above the crust. This was my spookiest trip up Sunburst ever, in hundreds of trips up it. I swung far left and climbed just above a slab that had released naturally not long before my arrival, but interestingly it released below the crust. I went up the ridge and the short, steep roll on the ridge and remote triggered the first steep roll on the right. I heard it release and then I ran over for a better view. Slight powder cloud, moderate speed, fairly low alpha angle I guessed. I had seen Cody Arnold and Matt Howard approaching coniferous treeline as I reached the ridge and was glad to see they were going nowhere near the Taylor Creek valley bottom, so as not to be exposed to anithing I might trigger. I continued climbing and found that the upper slope had released sympathetically. I climbed up the upper track to the first summit, looking at the layering as I crossed the fracture line. The slab had released above the crust, as the lowers collapses had. As I skied down above the fracture line, I was unable to trigger any more hangfire. I then skied alongside the track of the lower avalanche in EXCELLENT creamy fast conditions while rocking some BeeGees on my iPhone. I skied down to Matt and Cody and told them that this was the most insanely obviously hazardous snowpack I had ever skied in my 29 years of backcountry skiing. They then pointed out the slab on my up track on the ridge and I then noticed that almost every small, lower roll on the face had failed but not released also. We then skinned up and had an excellent ridge run and even the potatoes below treeline skied nice. The ridge slab debris was as deep as 2 feet in one small areas, so I could have been partially buried or trapped standing in my skis more likely, but not swept over the north face. I had made a small, calculated risk, just because the snow was so interesting and good up there, but I’m a little ashamed that there’s debris on my tracks. See also the pix somebody took from the road.

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)?Yes
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?Yes
Observer Comments

Red on CNFAIC advisory, warm weather, recent wind loading, recent heavy snowfall, virtually every avvy path was full along Turnagain Arm, massive widespread collapsing on all aspects, angles and elevations, recent slab and wet stuff activity.

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

Cloudy 30F, 15 knots southeast wind.

Snow surface

New, dense wind deposited snow. Creamy, excellent skiing with 12 cm ski penetration.


Bottom to top: a few cm of 2-3mm facets, 1-2 cm ice crust, 1cm of 2-3mm facets, 25-50 cm new snow.

Photos & Video
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