Snow Observations

Valdez Snow Observations

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368 thoughts on “Snow Observations

  1. Sat. March 28:

    Fashionably late jaunt up School Bus after the skies broke up on Thompson Pass somewhere around 1230pm. Extensive number of trraffic in all gullies and across the highway while the only human triggered activity looked loose out of the steep chutes on the north face of Odyssey (Pencil and one to the left). Lower elevation melt freeze crust existed in the flats and southern aspects were softening and sticky (pull out the skin wax). Temperature of air at 3100 feet at about 4pm was 1*C even though it felt like beach weather. New snow was scoured to old crust by NE wind or up to 30cm-ish in drifted areas.

    At at 5pm at 4200 feet dug on a baking southwest aspect 100cm pit in a 210cm snowpack on a 36 degree slope. Temps (in C) were: Air= 0; Down 10cm- 20cm= -3.5; Down 30-60cm= -4.

    Testing: New snow was bonding very well to old surface. Weaknesses were resistant planar at density breaks in the new snow: down 9, 18, and 26cm and had CT 7, 10, and 13 results respectively. The layers would not propagate and arrested: ECTN11 and 17 down 18cm and 26cm. The old melt freeze surface was 30cm down. Mid-pack below was firm with weaker facet layer right around 100cm.

    Upper peaks were flagging significantly from NE wind all afternoon and early evening. A lot of new wet loose above town with one smaller slab that pulled out.

  2. Tues & Wed March 24 & 25:

    Many clear days with extensive solar warming on south facing aspects necessitated some southern exposure snowpack temperatures (in Celsius):

    Tue at 10AM at 2400′ near DOT: Temps were:
    Air= -6; Surface= -7; Down 10cm= -9; Down 20cm= -4; Down 30cm= -3

    Wed at 1045AM at 2800′ in South Odyssey Couloir: Temps were:
    Air= 0; Surface= -2; Down 10cm= -4; Down 20cm= -2.5; Down 40cm= 0; Down 60cm= 0 (Height of snow = 115cm)

    Not quite ripe corn season yet.

    Tuesday also involved some more snowpack evaluation in the interior on Billy Mitchell. On a north-northeast aspect up to 5900′, a light southerly, downdraft wind was moving and pooling the 6mm surface hoar formations in the basin while protected areas held a soon to buried, uniform, undisturbed layer…..will see how it reacts to loading. An average of 15cm of near surface facets sluffed moderately on top of a supportive base. At 330PM at 4800′, an 186cm snowpack height held layers of pencil hard wind-pack, and one finger facets and rounds on top of a rotten four finger base of 3-4mm depth hoar down 150cm to ground. A CT17 Q3 failure occured down 160cm in this bottom brittle layer. This deep, persistent weakness at the base of the snowpack should be monitored as warmer days set in.
    Temps in this pit were:
    Air= -5.5; Down 10cm= -10; Down 20cm= -7.5; Down 60cm= -5; Down 80cm= -4

  3. Temperatures today at Worthington Glacier parking area at 3 in the afternoon were 33*F in the shade and 37*F in the sun. Snow temperatures were also taken off the highway at MP 27 [Air temperature: -1.4*C (29*F), Snow surface: -2.6*C (27*F), and 20cm down: -5.6*C (22*F)] If you’re really good at finding Waldo you may spot the small wet slab avalanche, if not, we are finding small wet slabs release on steep south facing slopes releases at the rock bands like these.

  4. March 22:

    Up Island Peak for the day. The morning started mostly overcast and started to break significantly, as hoping, to kill the flat light around 1230 when it was observed to be quite warm…a balmy 37*F at 2600 feet. Skies continued to scatter with amazing light on the region and air temps cooled slightly with elevation: 36*F at 3300 ft and 33*F at 4300. While climbing the north ridge, the snowpack was solidifying and bonding quite well between rounds, facets and crusts: hand shears were breaking down at the bottom of my isolated columns. As we climbed higher, more wind affected snow was noticed and some density breaks were able to shear with significant force. Just before topping out, when crossing a more western aspect, the snow changed dramatically to rotten, well-developed near surface facets with a couple sun crusts. The preserved 15cm of settling snow with supportable base is still skiing well on north aspects. Snowpack height was about 2 meters at 3800 feet. Some signs of infantile surface hoar was seen in isolated pockets. Calm to light wind for most of the day.

  5. Fri March 20:

    Tour up and around Lower Cracked Ice and Python faces.

    Most notable is development of near surface facets (widespread) and surface hoar to 4mm in specific low lying, protected areas.


  6. So toured up Nicks with the intent of skiing something on Berlin. After gaining the upper basin I could see that Berlin Wall was wind-pooched, so just toured to the saddle at the top of the basin. Upper basin to ~5300 ft was wind-buffed and carvy. After skiing the upper basin I popped up the quick 200 feet to the shoulder and skied the steeper face to skiers right of the main Nicks gulley. Snow on the face was 6-10″ of supportive recrystallized pow with a bit of crust underneath. Good stability all day.

  7. Thur March 19:

    Mostly clear skies and warm temperatures continued to bake south aspects, further melting the upper snow surface and leading to extensive melt water running down exposed rock outcrops and the highway. Poorly waxed skis were glopping up in solar affected snow and allowed one to possibly leave the skins at home. See Thompson Pass temperatures in the shade on the profile.

    A separate quick hand shear near 4000′ demonstrated a moderate weakness at the bottom of a firming facet layer just below the most recent storm snow and another weakness at the interface of rounds that were trying to bond to the late Feb crust with thin facets on top.


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