Observation: Turnagain

Location: Sunburst SW Face

Route & General Observations

December 18, 2014
Approximate time 14:00

Skier triggered avalanche on Sunburst Southwest face. One caught and fully buried, no injuries.

Trigger – Skier
Aspect – SW
Elevation, Start Zone ≈ 3600′

Estimated Dimensions:
Crown Depth ≈ 2 – 3′
Width ≈ 300′
Vertical runout ≈ 1000′ (The toe of the debris was reported to have stopped short of the creek drainage.)
Suspected weak layer – Buried Surface Hoar

Reported events:
CNFAIC staff were able to talk with the two skiers involved in the above avalanche. Skier 1 safely skied the SW face of Sunburst to the valley floor without triggering a slide. Skier 2 triggered the avalanche and was fully buried with a good air pocket and his hand sticking out of the snow. He was able to start excavating himself with his free hand. Skier 2 was out of the way of the debris and was able to get to the buried skier to assist digging him out. No one was injured.

Temps in the low 20’s F
Winds calm
Clear skies, no precipitation

Snowpack history:
This was the first clear day after a four day storm (12/14 – 12/17) deposited 24″ – 30+” of new snow in the Turnagain Pass zone. The storm snow is sitting on a layer of buried surface hoar (0.2 – 2cm in size) which sits on top of a melt-freeze crust at elevations from 3000′ and below. See CNFAIC observations from the past week for additional snowpack history at this time.

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.