Observation: Turnagain

Location: Sunburst

Route & General Observations

We took a tour up Sunburst and traveled along the ridge-line halfway to Taylor pass to get a view of the surrounding mountains. We skied down Sunburst proper and then broke south skiing into the drainage. We had soft turns with supportable snow about 3-4″ below the surface.

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

Our tour started with warmer ambient temps (about 30˚F) with slightly heavier snow as a response around the parking lot. To our surprise we had overcast skies but light clouds that hung out at mid elevations and dispersed at about 2000' making it difficult to view potential avalanche activities at mid elevations. Despite the cloud cover we had no active snow or wind.

Snow surface

Out of the parking lot and up to about 1500' there was about 1"- 2" of new snow. Around 1500' we began to see small poorly developed surface hoar intermixed with the newly fallen snow. As we ascended further into the mid-elevation clouds we found that these surface hoar crystals were larger, well developed (2-3mm), and widespread. These crystals were present up to the top of Sunburst and even on ridges and wind effected features.

At these higher elevations we found 3"-4" of new light snow and a lack of this snow on ridges. Despite the clear view of the sun above the clouds there was no noticeable warming of the snow surface. Some very small rollers seemed to be initiating off of ski tracks but we did not observe any natural rollers or sun related sluffing. We were however able to observe larger sluff piles at the base of gullies and runouts from the library.


We dug a few hand-pits and had a challenging time moving any snow as a cohesive slab.

Photos & Video
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