Monday, January 4, 2010

happy new year

great skiing on the area. backcountry skiing well, but still shaky.  snow and colder temps in the forecast, could be great.  and the holiday crowds seem to be gone.  welcome home.

for those of you who read the glacier country avalanche report, here is a post sent in that contradicts to some extent what they say.  which of course means, make your own judgements and be careful.

Happy New Year to Everyone. Just a little information re: Avalanche conditions in the Marias Pass Area around Mt Shields and Elk Mt. Touring yesterday we found some conflicting results to the current avalanche forecast.. Yesterday we toured the South ridge of Mt Shields. We reached a high point of 6900ft and did a snow pit analysis of the current snow pack. The slope was a West facing slope, Temps were around 28 C and winds were light out of the West. Surface conditions were (20 inches of Fresh snow and Surface Hoar) Ski penetrations around 16 in. The pit still showed effects of the previous weeks warm up and residual icing layer, we found a large consolidated wind slab down to the November ice crust and Faceted snow below. Not getting to into detail on the pit profile we found that the bonding of the upper layers had been relatively strong with compression tests equating to a CT 16 or so (10 hits at the wrist and 6 from the elbow) Producing a fracture at the Dec 23 crust layer with a shear quality of Q2 (Not super clean) This shear did not have a lot of energy. There was a secondary failure in the lower snow pack after a lot of force was given. This pattern was also seen in our shovel shear tests.... We considered the slope to have an avalanche rating of considerable with skier triggered slides possible. We skied a South West facing aspect, 35 degrees with high quality light surface snow (20 in). The skiing was fantastic and we descended 800 ft. We did not witness any slumping, whoomphing or propagation on this descent. High elevation snow pack was supportable and remained stable. We regained the ridge and moved over to the North West aspect of Shields with plans to descent the bowl staying to skiers right. Conditions again were excellent down to the 5800 ft level where snow pack began to thin and we started to get into the rain effected areas. These areas below the 5800ft level were more prone to propagation and slab release. Slabs were soft slabs 12-14 in in depth. A person from a separate party released a slab that ran a few hundred feet with enough debris to injure a skier. This person was not caught in the release. These conditions continued all the way down to the Fielding trail at the 4900ft level. I am writing this report as it is contradictory to the current NFS Avalanche report. Please pass on the information. Ridge lines were corniced from West to East, and some wind loading has occurred. Call me directly if you have any questions. These conditions could change for the worst with rapid warming, or additional snow deposition. Recent report on Jan 1 at 1:00pm it was snowing 2 in per Hr in Essex. Be safe out there. 406-892-2173 ~ Greg Fortin

hope this helps.  see you all.  it should be fun. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this info Chris. It is hard to get information out fast enough. I posted this to GCAC on December 31st and it is still not available as an observation. Since that time I beleive there has been a half dozen parties in that area and at least 3 different avalanche incidence reports with in the forcast area that I have been made aware of. I am following up with the forest service and GCAC regarding these gliches with the observations page. In the mean time your site is the premier spot for these back country observations and is a critical link for folks to identify potential issues. As we are all aware the current avalanche danger is touchy. Over the past two days I have observed slide evidence from Sunday on Sheilds, and obvious signs of instability throughout that area. General precautions.... Stay on ridge lines and low angle slopes. Wind really kicked in yesterday afternoon at Marias Pass. Any one needing specifics is welcome to call me. Thanks for this forum Chris. ~ Greg Fortin 892-2173