Avalanche: Turnagain

Location: Sunburst Ridge

Route & General Observations

We traveled up the Sunburst Ridge keeping special attention on above hazards and slope angles. When we broke off from the established skin track a few times, we did not initiate any whumpfing in the snowpack. Near our high point on the ridge, 3,400′, we dug a snow pit (view snowpack observations) to look for the buried surface hoar at the upper elevations.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger NaturalRemote Trigger Unknown
Avalanche Type Soft SlabAspect Northwest
ElevationunknownSlope Angleunknown
Crown DepthunknownWidthunknown
Vertical Rununknown  
Avalanche Details

We saw a handful of recent natural avalanches from the past 24 hours.
For the second time this year Todd's run (northerly bowl on Tincan) released taking a large portion of the bowl, wide propagation. Slab depth estimated 1-3' deep. It is likely the weak layer was the 1/10 buried surface hoar. The avalanche ran the full slope, into the low angle terrain, and looked to be about a D3 or D3.5 in scale.
We also saw a large slab across from the motorized parking lot on SE Seattle Ridge with debris running full path. This slab also looked to be in the 1-3' deep realm and had wide propagation, indicative of buried surface hoar.
Photos below, additional photos in other reports from today 1/21.

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

Multiple avalanche crowns where spotted from the highway ranging from D1.5 to D3.5 (Todds Run).

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

Clear skies. Temperatures starting in the low to mid twenties and declining to the mid teens with elevation. Winds were light and southerly along the ridge.

Snow surface

Around 4-5" of new snow from late last night and early this morning providing light cold snow on the snowpack surface. The new snow was light and readily transportable. Winds had effected the ridgeline with harder wind crusts and some non-reactive windslabs.


We dug a snow pit about 3 ft deep in an attempt to find the 1/10 buried surface hoar. However, because of the scary snowpack, it was challenging to find a spot to dig that would be far enough off the ridge to find the buried surface hoar ( that was low angle enough to not put ourselves at risk). Our snow pit ended up being too close to the ridge and no buried surface hoar was found. Test results were unremarkable: ECTN13 and 15 about 20 cm and 25 cm from the top of the snowpack respectively. Since we were unable to get into areas that are more representative of the buried surface hoar's presence it's challenging to make any finite conclusions with out pit. Instead, we stuck to low angle pow turns at the end of the day.

Photos & Video
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