09/10-Early snow, while it scratches the itch it's not always a good thing. I remember one of the most solid years we had in Utah was a year it didn't snow till late Oct or Nov can't quite remember and when it finally did it came in big 3+ feet of solid cohesive snow a little wet and just glued to the mountainsides. This year we got early snow that was followed by the three C's (calm, clear, cold) often associated with high pressure and it had it's way with the snowpack. Little to no snow for two months continued cold clear temps a couple smaller cycles and we finally got the big dump to really test the snowpack around mid January.
Early signs, Brett Kobernik conducting an ECT on NFacing slope mid October.
Weak layer at the very bottom of the snowpack.
First cycle was only a little taste of what was to come, but was still catching guys off guard. (Pic from the UAC website)
Finally mid January brought the first big snow/slight wind event. Finally we would get to test this snowpack. Up on top of one of the more notorious NFacing bowls I knew guys were getting remote triggers from 40+ feet away so I was very respectful of the ridgeline giving it a good distance while I stomped and jumped cracking out a car sized cornice I was able to trigger this monster.
Running the full track.
This is only a third of the slide. Pretty much went wall to wall. (Photo Brett Kobernik)
Some of the other slides from the same cycle. This one is probably the most aesthetic this is only a small fraction of the slide. 3/4 to 1 mile wide a whole ridge. Remotely triggered off a ridge.
The tail end of the ^^^ slide.
Another remote trigger off the ridge Wilson Chutes.
This is the slide that took the life of an experienced backcountry skier.
Backside of Beartrap
McDonalds Draw PC Big ridgeline.
Now were dealing with surface hoar buried about a 1+ feet deep. Mostly pockets and easily avoidable.
Just can't get suckered.
Our cycle's far from over, probably have an interesting spring cycle and we still have a persistant weak layer at the bottom. So many slides I wasn't able to get pics of and lot's of accidents catching the most experienced of skiers. Crazy year.
Whenever surface hoar forms there is also faceting of near surface layering. This slide
didn't run on surface hoar. Neither did this one
I go look at the crowns
and dig in several locations to see what the weak layer is. Good learning. It is doubtful that many people reporting slides on hoar frost are actually looking at the layering, including so called pros. As for the deep slabs in spring, best not to count yer chickens before they hatch.