Observation: Turnagain

Location: Taylor Pass

Route & General Observations

Took an afternoon tour up to Taylor Pass up the Sunburst ridge to check out the snow surface conditions before the storm tomorrow. We also wanted to dig a a couple snow pits to further track the distribution of the 3.14 facet/crust combo layer. We skied off the ridge of Sunburst below the weather station and were surprised to have soft supportable and crestless turns down to the valley.

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

We experienced a large variety of weather today. The sun was out, and temperatures gradually rose from noon to 4:00 pm but not enough to cause significant warming to the snow surface, though we noticed 4-5 rock bands warming up enough to cause small roller balls. Around 4:00 the temps dropped, and a storm blew in bringing moderate winds, light snowfall, and broken clouds. Winds where high enough to cause active snow transport and was filling in a skin track that had been made earlier in the day.

Snow surface

At low elevations about 0.5-1" of light new snow sat on top of a stout 1.5" melt freeze crust on all aspects. The crust gradually diminished to 2000' and began to disappear first primarily on northern aspects and within another 100' was absent on other slopes. At lower elevations the crust capped a layer of lower density surgery snow.

Above 2500' we had about 3" of light soft snow (fist hard) that was easily transportable once the wind picked up. Small 1" wind slabs formed closer to ridge-lines where the wind was strongest. We also noticed a few small (D1) wind slab avalanches that had initiated off of the north face of Magnum near Taylor pass.


To check the distribution of the 3.14 interface we dug two pits one at 2000' on a NW aspect and another at 2900' on a SW aspect. 3.14 interface was 5' deep in the mid elevation NW pit and 3.5' deep in the upper elevation SW pit. We only conducted stability tests on the upper elevation pit and had no results (ECTX). When we pried on the layer the slab slid off but 1ft below the 3.14 interface, this shows that this layer is gaining strength. Though it may be worth noting that the layer in both pits where a full hardness layer softer then the layer above and below them and consisted of rounding facets that were beginning to bond with neighboring crystals.

Photos & Video
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