Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Front Range Powder...

It seems like I never get to use the post title "Front Range Powder".  Something like "Snowed a little bit, and the wind took it away" would be more appropriate for our Anchorage bowl powder explorations.  But these last two small storm systems dropped some very nice low density snow.  Old Man Wind didn't blow everything away, but deposited the snow in gullies.  Eric, B-real and I pretty much skied out the main Harp/Two Bowl drainage.

Eric and Stella sniff out the dry powder.
B-real enjoying the untracked experience.
Yours truly milking my own turns from the day prior.
It was so good, we skied this drainage three days in a row.  Despite the stellar skiing, we did find some widespread instabilities.  Many E-NE aspects that became windloaded during the storm were ripping out remotely.  These occurred on steeper slopes (30+).  While skinning up the lookers left Harp bowl, the entire slope settled ("whoomped") below us.  We saw shooting cracks and fractures in the gully.  Had this slope been steeper, the entire gully would've ripped out.  I had an immediate desire to go and enjoy the beer in the back of my truck.

But we did enjoy some turns in the nice south facing slopes.

 Lobita enjoying the down.
On Saturday, I participated in the Observer Training sponsored by the CNFAIC.  Avalanche Forecasters Kevin Wright and Wendy Wagner took a group of 7 skiers up to Tincan.  Their goal is to empower the public to submit quality snow observations and make their job of forecasting better and more realistic.  These guys did a phenomenal job and have some amazing knowledge of snow science and avalanche hazard and recognition.  We dug a crew served fighting position (AKA snow pit) and talked a bit about the snowpack in Turnagain Pass.  Although our stability tests showed very good results, the deep-slab instabilities that exist will certainly keep me off of steep terrain with high consequences.  Todays forecast certainly shows what spatial variability and a thin snowpack in certain places will do.

Drawing our sector sketches and going over the rest plan.
Quote I heard while doing a Compression Test: "Ski it if it's white!"

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