Snow Pack 1.02.2013
The winter of 2013 in the Tetons has begun with an ample amount of snow high in the
mountains and slim to none in the valley. December’s warm, wet snow storms plastered
the mountains and soaked the valley. As dryer, colder weather moves across Wyoming, the
surrounding snowpack seizes to the mountains, making it difficult to trigger an avalanche.
Although steep, wind loaded pockets hold the potential for small, surface, soft slabs.
At low elevations, a large temperature gradient between the ground and the air over a
thin snowpack weakens snow grains as they morph into facets. On some slopes cold clear
nights have left behind surface hoar and caused near surface faceting. Luckily, light snowfall and a thin cloud cover have kept these weak snow grains to a minimum.
Cold temperatures have preserved the snow, so where there are unskied slopes the
powder skiing is perfect, but watch out because hazards always exist. Sadly the first three
avalanche fatalities of the season occurred in the last two weeks. In California there were
two deaths and one of the victims had well over 20 years of avalanche experience. The
other fatality occurred in Colorado. Remember those who live to experience what we all