Observation: Turnagain

Location: Tincan Alpine

Route & General Observations

Toured to high point of 3,250’ to focus on current instability before the next storm moves in. I conducted two test pits, at treeline and alpine, receiving no alarming results and fair stability overall. Widespread surface hoar will be another layer to track as new snow falls.

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?Yes
Collapsing (Whumphing)?No
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

No cracking, no collapsing
Test slopes produced 5-10 cm of low density, unconsolidated snow. (No cohesive slab)
Recent natural avalanches were present in the alpine on south facing slopes appearing to be loose-dry (point release) from possible solar effect.
Multiple, possibly human-triggered, cornice breaks were observed above Hippy Bowl. (See Photo)

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

Valley fog present from 1,200’ to 1,500’
Light SE winds observed from 1,000’ to 3,000’+
18°F at 1,000’ (09:00)
16°F at 2,200’ (10:00)
10°F at 3,250’ (12:00)
No precipitation
Rimed surface hoar particles at mid-elevations and within dense treeline

Snow surface

Widespread surface hoar from 1,000’ to 3,250’ ranging from 4-12 mm in size (see photo)
1,000’ to 1,700’: 2 to 3” supportable to punchy melt-freeze crust (Jan 17), with runnels present
1,700’ to 1,900’: 1” brittle crust with low density settled snow below
1,900’ to 3,250: 6” to 8” of low density surface snow over stiffer settled snow
Rimed surface hoar from 1,800’ to 2,400’
Wind roller balls are still present from past wind event. (see photo)
Loose-dry is evident on most steep slopes
Ski/Boot: 10-25 cm/ 20-40 cm


My focus was to assess how the upper snowpack is bonding during this period of colder weather, prior to another system moving in.
Instability tests at 2,200’ and 3,250’ showed moderate to hard strength with no significant propagation potential.
Pit 1: Tincan treeline, 2,200’, WSW, 22° slope, 10:00, -9°C, HS 370 cm, Test depth 120 cm.
CT13 SP 24cm down on decomposing fragments
CT16 SP 65cm down on buried rounding stellars (2mm)
CT16 SP 118cm down on rounds (hardness difference)
ECTN18 24cm down on decomposing fragments
Pit 2: See Snowpilot
Though a temperature gradient is present at 3,250’, near surface faceting was not observed in that specific location, but the conditions are there.
Today’s surface hoar, if not removed with strong gusts, will surely be a layer to track at all elevations.

Photos & Video
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