Observation: Turnagain

Location: Tincan

Route & General Observations

We skied around Tincan today, digging pits on SW and NW aspects at 2300′ and 3200′. There was a crust under south through west aspects all the way up to our high point at 3200′, covered by 2-3″ new snow. Northwest to north aspects did not have the same crust, with 4-6″ soft snow getting progressively stiffer with depth.

We got poor stability test results on the 3/2 layer of buried surface hoar in both of our pits, and we also got some shooting cracks on the more recent (3/16) surface hoar layer along the top of a small but steep wind loaded convexity right around treeline.

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?No
Collapsing (Whumphing)?No
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?Yes
Observer Comments

Shooting cracks along the top of a wind loaded convexity. They were only propagating 3-5', and it was almost sort of a mini cornice feature. The cracks were propagating on a layer of surface hoar 6-9" deep, most likely the one that was buried yesterday.

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

Mostly cloudy skies with some periods of sun filtering through the clouds. Light snow for most of the day, with increasing cloud cover and snowfall in the middle of the afternoon. Temperature was 37 F at the parking lot on our way up and 32 F at the end of the day. Winds were light out of the northeast.

Snow surface

Snow surface varied depending on aspect. South to west aspects had a crust buried about 2-3" deep under new snow. Northwest to north aspects were still dry. All aspects were moist to wet up to about 1600'.


The 3/2 surface hoar layer was more reactive in our snowpits than I was expecting today. We got propagating stability tests (unstable snow) in both of our pits (ECTP12 and ECTP26), from 10-18" deep. The size of the surface hoar varied from 3-5 mm in our lower pit at 2300' to 6-8mm in our upper pit. We were surprised to find this layer remarkably intact right at the ridgeline at 3200'. With low snow totals over the past 48 hours, the only new snow stability concerns were on steep wind loaded slopes.

More details in photos and video.

Photos & Video
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