As of March 30th, COAC has suspended backcountry avalanche advisories and pro observations until further notice.

On March 23rd, Governor Brown of Oregon issued Stay at Home orders for the public regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. The directives are clear in that “to the maximum extent possible, individuals stay at home or in their place of residence.” On March 27th the Deschutes National Forest issued a closure of all developed recreation sites including trailheads and snoparks. COAC is committed to supporting our community, local emergency services, and agency partners and because of this we felt it important to cease operations as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19.   

This decision was not taken lightly. Aside from the need to maintain congruency with the Governors' orders, there are inherent risks with backcountry activities in alpine environments and it’s important to consider unnecessary exposure to COAC forecasters, first responders, and local medical staff in light of the current situation.

We look forward to getting back into the mountains and providing you all with the tools to recreate safely in the backcountry. Until then we thank you for your continued support and wish all our mountain community the best of health and wellness.

Ball Butte conditions

Observation Date/Time:
Thu, Mar 26, 2020 - 12:00 PM
Aaron Hartz
Broken Top Area
Report Type:
Snow Conditions  
Travel Mode:
Ski or Snowboard  

Written Report:
I toured on SE, E, and NE aspects on Ball Butte. in wind sheltered areas I found 20 cm of recent storm snow sitting on a melt freeze crust. The new snow seems to be bonding well to the old crust. On easterly lee slopes the snow was drifted up to 60 cm deep. I did not observe any stiff windslabs that are typical with many storms. Instead I found lightly drifted in snow that had multiple density changes in the upper 15-30 cm. Hand sheer tests and shovel tilt tests revealed some moderate failures on these density changes. There were several small skier triggered slabs on east aspects that failed on density changes in the upper pack (see pictures).
As the day progressed, the recent snow was gaining slab properties, i.e. it began showing more cohesion. On several steep convex rolls, I observed cracking radiating from my skis during ski cuts, but the slab just didn't move.
Overall, today at Ball Butte, there was the potential to trigger a small slab, but not a lot of potential for the slab to propagate across the slope.

The wind was light out of the SW-W-NW throughout my tour. I observed no blowing snow. The air temperature was below freezing. The moon mountain weather station reported a high air temperature of 24F at 2pm.


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