|Fri, January 26th, 2024
|Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
|Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
|Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential.
|Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
|Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
|Likelihood of Avalanches
|Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely.
|Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible.
|Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely.
|Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely.
|Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
|Avalanche Size and Distribution
|Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain.
|Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas.
|Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas.
|Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas.
|Very large avalanches in many areas.
~No new wind slab avalanches have been reported
As we ride this prolonged wave of High pressure and 12 days without precipitation, avalanche activity has mostly subsided. Clear and cold conditions with minimal wind and heaps of sunshine has allowed the snowpack to slowly return to dormancy. Those who are taking advantage of the low avalanche danger scenario are stepping into bigger and steeper terrain with minimal consequences.
While previously firm wind slabs found on east through west aspects are continuing to facet, they are softening and are unlikely to propagate large avalanches. Although we are seeing 1-4 inch thick slabs in isolated terrain near ridgelines and cross-loaded features on these same aspects, expect them to be capable of producing mostly small avalanches. The strong winds from 1/17-18 that transported low density snow and built firm slabs is old news as we wait for the next round of active weather. Although these slabs are acting stubborn to unreactive they do still have unconsolidated snow below them. We are finding soft dry snow preserved underneath old wind slabs which is actively faceting and losing cohesion. Potential locations for triggering a small avalanche tend to be where the snowpack is shallower with rocks and vegetation near the surface. Watch out for this weak and sugary snow layer with future loading events, as it may contribute to a more widespread and persistent avalanche problem.
As a result of the cold and clear weather, faceting of snow surfaces has made small loose dry avalanches easier to trigger in exposed terrain steeper than 40°. In locations protected from wind, unconsolidated surface snow has been great for riding with the possibility that you could trigger a manageable sluff. These small to medium sized avalanches have run down gullies and steep faces in all of the elevation zones, and on multiple different aspects.