SNOW PACK: Expert paradox

By on March 12, 2013

So far this season, in Rendezvous Bowl, 311 inches of snowfall has settled to 81 inches. Throughout the mountain ranges surrounding Jackson snow depths, at 9,000 feet, range from 5 to 8 feet. The majority of the snow fell in December and since then drought periods have left the full variety of snow grains within the snowpack, causing each avalanche path to react independently.

Sadly from March 1 to 3 there were five avalanche fatalities in the Rocky Mountain region. As a seasoned Teton ski mountaineer explained to me, winter explorers need to treat each slope like it is a new experience, otherwise they may fall into the expert paradox. Anyone who travels in the mountains is exposed to hazards. It is always essential to evaluate the snowfall, terrain and temperatures affecting every slope like you are there for the first time.

A cornice drop on Fred’s Mountain triggered a four-foot slab avalanche on March 6, located on the west slope of the Tetons. The avalanche may have triggered on the January drought layer. There are many layers within our snowpack, so it is always important to evaluate the factors and never regret playing it safe.


About Lisa Van Sciver

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