Observation: Douglas Island

Location: Showboat Ridge

Route & General Observations

Went for a short tour a little south of Showboat today and found some fun recycled powder turns. Snowpack depths ranged between 0-120 cm (that’s about 0-50 units of Freedom). This elevation and aspect seemed to escape the ravages of the recent Taku Wind event but low tide conditions made for heads up riding. The surface snow had faceted to the point where I could trigger loose dry sloughs on steep slopes. I also dug a pit to the ground around 2100 feet on a SW aspect. The pit was 110 cm deep. The top 10 cm was F (fist) hard on top of a 2 cm K (knife) hard crust that was easily broken up. Below that was another 8 cm or so of F (fist) hard faceted (weak sugary) grains with the odd, frozen, percolation column. Percolation columns appear as vertical icicles connecting a higher layer of snow to a lower layer of snow. All of this sat on K (knife) hard melt freeze grains to the ground. The entire snowpack was dry.
All of this is a bit heavy on jargon and probably not useful to everyone. So what is important here? The snow that was fun to ride today consisted of facets. These facets form a persistent weak layer above and between crusts. Crusts make great sliding surfaces. Either of these layers could act as a point of failure for a slab avalanche. The only ingredient we are missing in the avalanche recipe is a slab on top of the weak layers. With snow in the forecast it is likely that slabs will begin to form on top of these weak layers. So shred safe out there because Mother Nature is fixing to cook up some avalanche conditions.

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