Avalanche Conditions

3 photos

Powder and Persistent Slabs

Tunnel Creek/McDermid

Avalanche Conditions

I guided a trip to the McDermott Hut for an AST 2 course from Jan 3-5. We toured to the hut via Tunnel Creek.

We left Fernie on Jan 3 and there was roughly 20cm of new snow in town and it was snowing steadily. When we got to the Tunnel Creek parking area, there was about 5cm of new snow, light wind from the SW, and -7.0. At around 1650m there was about 15cm of new snow and we observed several, natural, size 1.0 storm slabs at treeline. The wind was strong at ridgetop and moderate on our way up to the pass between Planetary Peak and Race Car. Trail breaking was easier on stiffer wind affected areas where we could feel old wind slab under out skis. There was some cracking when we neared the pass. We avoided start zones and tracks and crossed the very bottom of runouts with group management. At the hut (1800m) there was roughly 20cm of new snow. That evening the wind was gusting strong to extreme but calmed down around 9pm.

Of note, we observed 2 old, natural, size 3.0 persistent slab avalanches. These likely occurred in the storm just before New Years. E aspect, 2000m & 1800m, with one estimated to be 2m deep and 350m wide. Pictures attached.

On Jan 4th there was wind affected snow around the hut as we left to tour up to Race Car with overcast skies, calm, and a temperature of -10. In sheltered areas the was 15-20cm of blower powder. At noon we dug a pit on a NE aspect, 2000m, 17 degree slope. It was snowing lightly, overcast, and -13. We found a snowpack depth of 215cm. There was 15cm of new storm snow on 40cm of settled previous storm snow, on top of a well consolidated mid-pack. The Dec 4th persistent slab was down 110cm, with a series of hard cursts below. We had no significant results with our snowpack tests. 3 x compression test, 3 x deep tap tests. We toured up to the ridge and skied down with some cracking in the storm/wind affected snow on convex rolls, and observed a natural size 2.0 storm slab that had occurred yesterday in steep alpine terrain.

On Jan 5th we left the hut with broken skies, calm, and -16. We avoided thin, shallow, rocky snowpack areas at in the alpine. We enjoyed a stellar lap on Sunnyside and then headed over to Home Run where we had another awesome run, although quite thick with alder at the bottom still. There was some cracking in the steep rollover mid-slope.

On The Map

These observations and opinions are those of the person who submitted them. The ACMG and its members take no responsibility for errors, omissions, or lapses in continuity. Conditions differ greatly over time and space due to the variable nature of mountain weather and terrain. Application of this information provides no guarantee of increased safety. Do not use the Mountain Conditions Report as the sole factor in planning trips or making decisions in the field.