Route: Traveled from Sunburst parking lot (900ft), over Taylor Pass, to the summit of Pastoral Peak
Signs of Instability:
Recent Avalanches: None observed
Cracking: Nothing substantial observed
*A couple 10’ long 1’’ deep cracks with associated wind slabs near Taylor Pass, not of concern now,
however, could be an issue in the future with more loading.
Collapsing: None Observed
Light winds at lower elevations, gusty winds at ridge tops from the NW
Temperatures in the low 20’s F
900ft to 1100ft: Very low snow cover
1100ft to 3000ft: Impenetrable crust around 30-40cm thick
3000ft to 4700ft: Soft surface snow around 10cm thick with areas of variable wind effected surfaces.
Thin, ~1mm, surface hoar formation visible at all elevations.
Wind slabs in areas near ridge crests.
Dug down at 2300ft to see the thickness the surface crust and the state of the wet snow/facets below. Surface crust was 30cm thick with 30cm of wet weak snow and facets below.
Dug a quick pit at 4500ft
Pit Depth= 80cm over impenetrable old snow (pit location had prior wind scouring)
Consistent strong slab over the older snow
Dug a pit at 3600ft
CT 14 Resistant Planar 18cm down (failed under a 3cm crust in decomposing fragments)
Snowpack profile (see photo as well):
Surface consisted of 15cm of soft snow snow over a melt/freeze crust around 3cm thick. Slab under crust was P hardness throughout, with a crust (1-2mm likely Dec drizzle crust) at 110cm depth below slab. At 135cm depth is another crust (2mm) with 1f facets above it. Under the 135cm crust there was 5cm of F hard weak facets. This was the weakest layer found and likely the one of most concern for triggering a deep slab avalanche, especially in areas where the slab is not as thick. The basal layer was 50cm of hard, strong, Sept./Oct. snow.
Potential future weak layers:
The 3cm melt freeze crust 15cm below the surface has potential for facets to develop both above and below with forecasted clear/cool weather. This crust gets thinner with elevation but was seen as high as 4,500′.