Observation: Turnagain

Location: Sunburst

Route & General Observations

Standard route to 3200′, surface conditions, snowpack depth/variability and skier traffic inventory before next weather system

Red Flags
Red flags are simple visual clues that are a sign of potential avalanche danger. Please record any sign of red flags below.
Observer Comments

None observed

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

Clear and sunny
Light east wind with minor wind transport observed at Taylor pass
-3F at the truck mid morning, mid-20Fs above 2000' Sunburst wx station had a high of 26F.

Snow surface

Surface hoar, varied size from 2-8mm, larger at lower elevations over soft faceting snow.


At road level the snowpack is only 6" deep consisting of surface hoar, facets, a melt-freeze crust and more facets.
Snowpack gradually gains a bit of depth (average 1') and becomes facets only until around 1800' where a crust near the base returns.
Around 2000' after popping out of alder line, the wind effect from the early November wind event is noticeable within the shallow pack under the soft faceted surface snow. The depth is variable ranging from 6"-3' of snow (see photos). Just with visual observation it is easy to see how shallow it is on SW face of Sunburst and the shoulder common up-track. Travel up and down with lots of pole probing confirmed the variability. There is a mixture of the supportable wind layer over the basal facets with soft fun faceted snow on top and then sometimes ski tracks penetrating easily to the ground in places.

We dug two pits at 3200'. Pit #1: HS: 50cm/1.5' deep and Pit#2: 85 cm/2.5' deep. Under the soft few inches of surface snow both had a slab of 1F to Pencil hard rounds (old wind affected snow) over facets above and below a thin melt-freeze crust. Stability tests in both produced CT13 and ECTP 13. A second ECT in the deeper pit had and ECTP 25. These all failed in the facets just above the melt-freeze crust. Pit#2 also had a visible layer of buried surface hoar 60 cm down that was non-reactive.
Looking ahead slopes with this snowpack structure and the weak surface snow will potentially be issues as we get another loading event.

Photos & Video
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