Last week I wrote , “in order to have an avalanche, you need a weak layer and a slab”. The snowpack in all the places we have traveled in the past month, is the same- well developed facets and depth hoar. Previous snowpack discussions details the multiple layers of weak large facets sandwiched between melt freeze crusts. The bad news is that is on upper elevation north facing slopes, the old snow will become THE persistent weak layer capable of producing moderate sized avalanches once more snow layers are added. It covers large enough portions of the starting zones to produce a big enough avalanche to injure or kill a person. These places include the following
Tele Bowl, the Hose, Mammoth Rock , Mammoth Bowl, Red Cone, Hammil Bowl to name a few. These are the areas are exactly where we will want to go with 10 to up to 20 inches of new snow. Collapsing or "Whoomping" underfoot is a tell tale sign. It's easy to dig down and see if there is old sugary snow under the new snow.
Early season excitement can be hard to control. Get your gear out, change batteries in your avalanche beacons and think about the ways you can manage the avalanche risk. For an excellent pre season video on preparing your avalanche gear, please view this video from the Gallatin Avalanche Center: