Avalanche Soda Peak

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Saturday, Mar 25, 2017 6:34 PM
Dan Noakes
Three Sisters Area (44.034399, -121.706800)
Ob Date/Time:
Sat, Mar 25, 2017 - 10:00 AM
Report Type:
Avalanche Activity
Mode of Travel:
Ski or Snowboard

Written Report:
I will try and do this in the most layman skier terms so everybody can understand. I triggered this avalanche, no, not proud of it at all, it actually feels very humbling. I'm glad I got out safe. I share this in hopes that it might help someone asses their situation in the backcountry even just slightly better.

The avalanche happened on the north aspect, which means the slope of the mountain where the avalanche occurred faces north. As you can see from the map marker below, we dropped in skiers left from Soda Peak. As you ski down it narrows up and forms a type of gulch/runoff, on one of the steeper sections before it kind of chokes up (gets narrow) I triggered the avalanche. It looks like it was a wind slab. The crown (the part on top that you can see in the picture) was for the most part about 1.5 feet deep and I think about 2 feet in the deepest part. So it was basically all the new snow from this last storm and additional snow that was piled on top from the wind.

We even dug a pit today and examined the snow, I didn't foresee this coming. I think some things that I ignored were, 1. ignoring the signs of wind loaded snow. Those little wavy lines on the surface of the snow were all over the place on that slope aspect, the wind drifts were bigger than normal. I completely ignored those signs and figured everything would be okay. 2. The steepness of the slop. I knew it was steep, but I dropped anyway.

My two cents of advice, ski with caution when you approach a wind loaded steeper slope, avoid it if you can, even if your pit tells you that you can center punch everything, I don't think that is wise. Wind loaded snow can be a beast as I learned today.

Happy skiing my friends!


Caption: Avalanche Soda Peak