Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:05 am Posts: 1510 Location: Colorado
Looks like a shallow soft slab. Being the PNW perhaps They would not have been much concerned with deeper instabilities? If this is correct, it appears that some well placed ski cuts might have cleared up the instability? I am only speculating, based on what I can see in the pics, and typical PNW snowpack...
Yeah I agree this time of year soft slabs can be pretty manageable. Ski cuts can be your best friend if I was the third person after those guys cleared that line I would have felt pretty good. Looks like some guys hit the same aspect lookers left and got away with it.
On this day I watched resort bombs trigger small pockets. I knew I would likely find a pocket but it was manageable with a straighter line. I was actually stoked I found the pocket cause I felt even more confident using the slide and kicked cornice line to take a short shot up to hit a few more lines. I also knew the snow was going to set up as they day progressed.
Some well placed ski cuts would have certainly cleared things out safely, the trick is to the placement. The turns before the trees look to be on the shallow side but within the avalanche sweet spot and had no indication of movement. What you can't see from those shots are the ski cut before drop in that produced nothing or the fat cross loaded features that also was stable. The third and fourth guys ended up bailing back down the top of the ridge.
There is still a deep layer in our snowpack up here and it will be interesting to see if the spring rains will put add enough weight to the snow to cause that layer to fail before it percolates through and consolidates the snowpack.