Observation: Turnagain

Location: Taylor Pass to Sunburst Weather Station

Route & General Observations

We toured up Taylor Pass to Sunburst weather station to try to assess why it stopped working on 11/24. We encountered steady winds 15mph on our ascent up Taylor and by the time we descended (2:30pm) winds had increased to a steady 25mph with gusts in the mid 30’s mph. We observed blowing snow and multiple shooting cracks 10-20′ in length on the Western aspect of Taylor Pass toward the weather station.

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 experienced multiple shooting cracks due to active wind loading between Taylor Pass (3200') and Sunburst Weather station (3800')

We also spread out and moved quickly (to minimize our exposure) under the glide crack on the SW face of Sunburst. We tried to keep the furthest distance possible, well below the debris of the glide that released on 11/23, to distance ourselves from its run-out. Something to keep in mind if you are thinking of going up/down Taylor Pass.

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

-Broken skies in the morning becoming obscured by mid afternoon.
-Winds were light from the East becoming moderate by early afternoon. Seemed to be the most intense at Taylor Pass.
-Temperatures were in the low-mid 20F's
-Light snow started falling around 3:30pm

Snow surface

1" of new snow from overnight
1000'-2000' - 6 inches of loose unconsolidated snow
Variable surface conditions throughout all of Taylor creek, wind affected snow. Near the Taylor Pass snow become more supportable with patches of sastrugi and upside down snow punchy snow. Shooting cracks were found on the Western, wind deposited side of Taylor Pass toward Sunburst Wx station.


We probed around on a wind deposited area at 3400' on a Western aspect between Taylor and the Wx station near an area where we experienced shooting cracks. The snow was completely supportable, but could punch ski pole basket through with some force. Snow depths were between 120cm -160cm in this area.

The snowpack was dense pencil hard with the top 40 cm were 1F hard. We had a CT score of 17 RP that broke 40cm down on density change. We could see a visible layer where it broke, but we also didn't find any obvious buried surface hoar. Due to blowing snow and unfavorable conditions for the hand lens we couldn't identify the grain type. The extended column test produced no results (ECTX.)

Photos & Video
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