Observation: Turnagain

Location: Tincan/Todd's Bowl

Route & General Observations

We set out to investigate the crown of a recent very large avalanche on the northwest side of Tincan, but stopped just short of the avalanche because we didn’t feel good about setting a traverse across a steep slope along the ridgeline. We stopped and dug a few pits at 3200′ on north and southwest aspects, found multiple reactive layers in the upper snowpack, and turned around and took a low-angle route back down. The storm snow felt very reactive, especially on slopes that were wind-loaded.

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

We got a ton of shooting cracks stomping around on unsupported wind-loaded slopes and small cornice features.

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

Steady rain on the drive up this morning, just barely snowing in the parking lot at around 10:45. Moderate to strong northeast winds in the alpine, with steady light snow while we were out. On our way back down around 2:30 p.m., it was raining up to about 1200'.

Snow surface

Surface snow was moist to wet up to about 1500', moist up to around 2000', and dry above that. The Christmas crust was buried 1.5-2' deep, and noticeable as a crust with pole probes up to around 2600'. Fresh wind drifts were very touchy, with shooting cracks and big chunks breaking off along steep loaded rollovers.


We made it really close to the crown line of the avalanche we were trying to investigate, but ultimately the snowpack was just way too reactive to justify a short but steep and exposed traverse along the ridge. Peter put it great when he asked, 'Would you be surprised if you triggered an avalanche trying to cross that?' When I answered no, it was obvious it was time to turn around. It was about the same time I gently poked an overhanging cornice with my ski pole and broke a couch-sized chunk off. Spooky! (I flinched when it broke...)

We dug three pits near our high point (3200') on north and southwest aspects. Snow depth varied from 140 cm (5') in thin spots to 205 cm (7') in places that hadn't been scoured. We had multiple propagating test results at the interface between the New Year's and Christmas storm layers (ECTP 23), and some easy shovel shears and sudden planar CT results below the Christmas storm. We did not get any propagation on the Thanksgiving layer. The October facet layer was moist and did not look concerning in the one pit where we dug to the ground

Photos & Video
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