Avalanche Conditions

2 photos

Surface Hoar Hunting

McDermott Hut

Avalanche Conditions

I guided a 4 day trip to the McDermott Hut in the McDermid basin area from Feb 6-9. We skied Planetary Glades, Mercury Bowl, Treed Side, Hang Ten, Bonus Couloir, Spoiler Alert Trees, Home Run, and unnamed areas, with a summit of Race Car Rock.

Weather: The temperature was relatively stable over the 4 days at 1800m with a high of 0 (Feb 9) and a low of -5. There was generally light to moderate SW wind, with the exception of strong, gusting to extreme, SW wind on Feb 7 at ridge top. There was no precipitation and a mix of cloud cover with mostly scattered skies.

Snowpack: Open terrain has been heavily wind affected at all elevation bands, exposing the Jan 18th melt-freeze crusts in some areas, and creating hard slab in lees. In very sheltered areas, dry unconsolidated snow can be found above 1500m, with moist snow below. A sun-crust exists on solar aspects to ridge top. I found the Jan 30th persistent slab (surface hoar) in isolated areas, specifically very sheltered locations on NW-NE aspects at TL. Where it is found, it is well preserved, up to 10mm, and giving sudden planar results in compression tests. I pulled the pin on skiing Gypsy Chute after finding this layer down 60cm with a stiff slab above and hard sudden planar results.

Avalanche Observations: There was one size 1.5 snowmobile triggered avalanche (almost directly observed) in the afternoon on Feb 6th. The slab looked to be about 50cm deep and was on a NW aspect at 2000m in an alpine bowl. On Feb 9th I observed a size 2 natural windslab avalanche on an E aspect at 2100m. There was frequent whumpfing in sheltered, flat terrain at ridge top near Race Car Rock.

Really great trip with a great group!

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.