Snowpack Report: Tricky Terrain
This season’s lack of snow fall has left the lower elevations thin on snowpack and the ski area terrain short on soft turns, although the skiing here is always good. The ski areas hold fast, fun turns and the backcountry still holds soft, perfect skiing on shaded, northerly aspects. When the powder hunters’ hunt is on, the findings are well worth the effort.
In the backcountry strong winds continue to load slopes with active, sliding surfaces. As sun crusts and surface hoar are loaded, new snow easily releases. Even though the snow fall this season has been minimal, the existing light, density snow is easily transported by wind onto sensitive slopes. The greatest hazard still remains where the Jan. 27 to Feb. 1 snow continues lingering. Avalanches with crowns up to a three feet and greater have been reported to slide on the January drought layer. As the possibility of triggering a slide maintains moderate, the hazard of triggering a slide has increased; so check every slope.
This season’s theme continues, where is the snow and when will it fall … only in December? We will never know, but can only pray for snow while the lifts are still running. And until then watch out for tricky, thin terrain.