Ball Butte Conditions

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Thursday, Mar 2, 2017 7:08 AM
Aaron Hartz
Pro Ob
Broken Top Area (44.064812, -121.675301)
Ob Date/Time:
Thu, Mar 2, 2017 - 6:36 AM
Report Type:
Snow Conditions
Mode of Travel:
Ski or Snowboard

Written Report:
Conditions from Wednesday, March 1. Near and above treeline was hammered by the wind during the last storm. It was obvious just by looking at the surface snow. Most of the area I could see had a visibly wind effected surface. Much of the surface area was also covered by a rime crust (see picture). Where the crust was on top of supportable wind packed snow, it wasn't a problem for skiing. In areas where it was over softer snow, it was a breakable crust.
On Ball Butte, there were wind slabs on the easterly facing slopes in the bowls. In a few wind protected areas in the bowls, there was soft snow with very little wind effect. I ski cut numerous wind slabs on the east facing aspects, and got no wind slabs to release.
Several previous natural avalanches were observed. A natural wind slab on Moon Mountain (east aspect just below ridge top; see picture) appeared to be triggered by a natural cornice break. A very shallow natural wind slab crown was observed near rocks in steep terrain on the south aspect off the summit of Ball. Looking into the Broken Top bowl, natural avalanche debris was visible near the 9 0' clock couloir (steep SSE facing near 8800ft). It was impossible to say how old it was from a distance and it looked like it had since been filled in with wind deposited snow and/or new snow.
I watched a group of skiers descend the 'Pucker Up' line on Broken Top (steep SE slope around 8800ft). I did not observe any snow moving other than small sloughing coming off their ski turns.
From what I experienced on Ball Butte, the wind slabs are bonding well. However, that may not be the case everywhere. Evaluate wind loaded slopes carefully.
Wind was light to moderate out of the west and SW throughout the day. Small amounts of wind transported snow were observed occasionally.


Caption: Natural wind slab avalanche on Moon Mountain

Caption: Rime crust covering much of the surface snow

Caption: Widespread wind effected snow.