Friday, December 17, 2004

Waterton Scrambling: waterton Ice/avalanche Dec 17th 2004

Waterton Scrambling: waterton Ice/avalanche Dec 17th 2004Avalanche conditions Waterton Park December18th 2004
Alpine : Moderate Tree line; Low Below tree line: Very low

Information based on profile 2100 meters NE aspect Summit Knob located just west of summit lake.

The last storm system to come threw early last week had all the potential to drop a meter of snow on the area. One little problem, the temps were such that it rained to mountain top. The upper snow pack has a knife hard rain crust (30 –40 cm) that is best described as bullet proof. We are talking 357 magnum the most powerful hand gun in the world. Don’t worry about feeling lucky punk cause you ain’t going to cause a slide. The specific terrain features rule still holds true. IE: wind loaded gullies. It may be possible to trigger an avalanche on steep unsupported terrain but this would apply to ice climbers for the most part.

There is a moderate shear (M12) down about 70cm but the snow pack is so well supported by the upper rain layer that the shear is deceiving in its significance. The rain/ice crust softens a bit as you drop on elevation but the hazard is reduced because of the diminishing snow pack. The ground anchors are not covered yet.
To sum it up there is great skiing to be had after the next storm. Put 20 cm of snow on top of this crust and even I might go skiing!! Right now the skiing sucks on all aspects and elevations. Will tomorrows warm spell change anything? I doubt it. Use common sense when it comes to dealing with the back country. Mother nature has a way of throwing a wrench in the machine. My confidence in this forecast/observation is 90%


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