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:
Sun, Feb 16, 2020 - 12:00 PM
Aaron Hartz
Broken Top Area
Report Type:
Snow Conditions  
Travel Mode:
Ski or Snowboard  
Sky Conditions:
Few (1/8 - 2/8)

Written Report:
I toured on SE, E and NE aspects on Ball Butte (sparse trees, open alpine slopes). The entire area was heavily wind affected.

The wind was light in the morning, and moderate by mid day with some strong gusts; primarily out of the west but was variable and shifting out of the north and east. Blowing snow was constant throughout the day.

Windslabs were present on easterly aspects, but were not reactive to ski cuts and were very stubborn. They were seemingly impossible to trigger.

I dug into the snow and found weak sugary faceted snow down about 45 cm below the surface. This was beneath the upper most crust. This layer failed during snowpack testing (CTH SC) but did not propagate in the extended column test. The weak faceted snow is something we will need to monitor and watch to see if it heals, or remains weak. At the present time, I do not expect avalanches to occur on this layer but that could change with more loading if this layer sticks around.

While skiing through the terrain,I could not get any snow to move and I found no signs of unstable snow; no cracking, or collapsing. There were no signs of recent avalanches.

There was not a patch of snow that had not been affected by wind. Although wind affected, the SE and S aspects seemed to have the best ski quality.


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