Avalanche: Douglas Island

Location: Fish Creek Knob

Route & General Observations

Spent the day traveling up from Porcupine, skiing in the Boulder Chutes before heading over the North ridge of FCK. We skied North from 2600ft to 1600ft, then came back up for a last lap in the bowl and exited back to the ski area. The sun came out for a couple of hours mid-morning. There were light winds from the SE, not transporting snow at our elevation. Tracks were visible from Friday-Sunday in wedding bowl and off the top of Fish creek knob, but there had been 5-10cms of low density over the past week’s storm snow. The crispness of the weekend’s tracks suggested not a lot of wind redistribution from the moderate to strong Northerly winds overnight in the areas we visited.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger SkierAvalanche Type Soft Slab
Aspect North NorthwestElevation 2600ft
Slope Angle 38degCrown Depth 6in
WidthunknownVertical Run 600ft
Avalanche Details

I ski cut the steep entrance to the slope below 'The Gill' on Fish Creek Knob. Up to that point, I had not seen any signs of instability, no cracking in my 'parallel tracks' tests, but hand shears showed a "1 Finger" wind slab over low-density dry (Fist-4 Finger) snow coming off easily when isolated. When I ski cut along the slope, two separate, shallow pockets released below my skis and ran down the steep terrain below, entraining more storm snow as they went. Both pockets were on average 10-20cm crowns. One pocket ran size 1.5-2 and down for about 650ft, the other ran size 1-1.5 and ran 350ft. Significant debris for such small initial slabs. Also found it interesting that the wind slabs were lee to a South or SE wind, not the N-NE winds that area weather stations were reporting overnight. The ski cuts were not directly below the ridge crest, but out onto the slope where there must have been some cross-loading.

Weather & Snow Characteristics
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Snow surface

New low-density snow (5-10cms), over a variety of skiable surfaces depending on aspect and elevation.

Photos & Video
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