Observation: Turnagain

Location: Sunburst

Route & General Observations

Sunburst to 2700′

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

Midday winds transported snow off the Magnum ridgeline.

A thin slab - ~9-12" - and crown was visible on Magnum's NW shoulder around 2000' in elevation, which was slightly blown in. Guessing this was from the past few days, but hard to see in the shadows...

Debris from a recent avalanche was also seen from the Girdwood gas station off Raggedtop, with a barely visible crown on a S aspect at ~2500'.

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

COLD. Zero to single digits below zero.
Few clouds in the morning, transitioning to clear by afternoon
Light but steady winds from the NW above 2000', occasionally coming from the SE (perhaps due to terrain)

Snow surface

2-4" of soft snow sat over the layers of crust that froze around 12/28. A thin wind skin and some wind redistribution of this snow was present above 2000' on the route, which went up a more sheltered SW aspect than usual. The winds had clearly scoured the standard route that takes the ridgeline up from ~2200', and wind affect was obvious from across valley on the Seattle Ridge ridgeline (see photos below).


Under those 2-4" of soft snow along the route, the crusts - almost always plural - changed by elevation, and were thicker/more stout as we gained elevation. Photos and a description of each is below, but generally we found the top of these crusts to be breakable, and ski penetration to be just below the top crust from the Dec 26-28 meltdown. Boot penetration was deeper, down 6-8" except for at the parking lot where it was 18".

We stopped at 2700', where a previously wind loaded location had a crust that was so stout it was difficult to kick into with ski boots... but this was a rare exception up to this point.

As a final note, digging quick pits revealed a great amount of variability in crust thickness and the distance between crusts, even in locations just a few feet apart. Rain and water from the surface clearly had a creative time finding old layers in snow that was present before 12/26, particularly where we turned around.

Photos & Video
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