Observation: Hatcher Pass

Location: West Willow fishhook

Route & General Observations

Steady small flakes and 20ish mph wind getting swirled around by the topo quite a bit. Mostly from the west but shifted to south-southwest for a spell. Temps moderated by the wind, noticably warmer later in the day when wind let up. Clouds only thinned from soup to broth, no sun. Up hill vertigo, not much choice but to follow the orange flags up to the pass. Bet and hoped on the storm breaking some. Dug in to have a snack and wait. Overall contemplative day. Storm riding or surfing? What is flat light? Is there a measure of eye strain? Is it time to replace some of my clothing? Why is nobody else out here? Tucked tail back down the road. But the skiing was good enough for another.

New snow drifting on the micro topo, lots of variability in depth and stiffness, but nothing supportable. Hand pits along the way and full pit at the pass showed the same story. Recent two storms came in upside down, cohesive slab over light density snow on top of zipper temperature/rain crusts. First event settled out to 25-30 cm, second on the 20 cm side.

Storm interfaces are concerning. The two layers of light density on the crust bed surfaces are weak. Upper crust is thin and decomposing in some spots but enough to limit drifting for now in some locales. Might maintain vapor barrier. Lower crust is still thin ~1mm but holds up to hand pressure and is a very slick smooth surface.

North East facing, 3900 ft
60 cm total snow.
5-8 cm Cracky wind slab.
10-12 cm Four finger to finger hard slab/storm snow.
1-2 cm Fist hard low density.
20-25 cm Finger hard storm snow.
2 cm Four/fist hard low density
Finger hard sintered facets to the ground. Becoming quite stubborn slab, but still breaking apart to small grains when coaxed.

ECTP 8-10; fracture ¾ width along shallow crust and inter-storm density changes. Pulls out easy.
ECTP 11-13; fracture 1/2 width at deeper crust boundary. More stubborn to pull out but comes with lots of energy. Slab flys out with a little levering.

Expect to see plentifully naturals when we can see given the high sensitivity to load. Scary moderate with skier triggers likely. Slope angle and drift depth the factors to mind.

Looking forward to clearer skies, faceting around the crust should be watched closely.