Rapid temperature rise
Sun, Feb 21, 2021 - 4:31 PM
Newberry Crater Area / 7800'
Snow Conditions Avalanche Activity
Snowmobile Ski or Snowboard
Sky Clear (<1/8)
Height of Snow (HS):
W / Moderate: 17-25 mph
Weather: sunny with variable moderate west winds.
Temps: Sun felt warm in sunny/sheltered areas but it was still very cold in shady or exposed areas.
Heads up if you're taking a sled that the snow to the left of the gate is melted down to the boulders. The right side of the gate is getting very narrow, soon to be sporty with the adjacent downslope. The road past the gate is great but there is a thin patch or two, avoidable for now.
We took the junction for the Chief Paulina Horse Camp and started skinning from the western edge of the Big Obsidian flow around 6600'.
The snow in the trees and shaded areas was preserved but somewhat deflated powder. Areas that had gotten sun had variable amounts of breakable crust.
We meandered up the drainage and gained the ridge at ~7300 making our way up to the overlook. There were partially decomposed rollerballs from earlier in the week but no other signs of instability. As can be expected the Paulina area received much less new snow than the Cascade Crest.
At the top of the bowl~ 7800' E aspect, we found 180cm otg. Wind and sun affected 2-3cm layer on top. Except for the surface, the snowpack in that specific spot was mostly uniform melt forms with 2 higher density (p+/I-) layers that were well bonded within the top 50 cm. CT17 Q3 at ~20cm.
We skied the 35 deg trees on the E-facing aspect of the bowl. The snow was highly variable, powder where it was protected and a mix of crusty and wind-affected where it wasn't. Too early for corn but it's in progress. The lower pitch slid (see avy summary below) and what didn't slide wasn't great.
The best skiing was the trees and shaded areas of our approach route. Which we lapped a few more times without incident.
WS - Wet slab
Avalanche Size (relative to path):
R2 - Small
Avalanche Size (destruction):
D2 - Could bury, injure, or kill (100m)
Avalanche Slope Angle:
My partner triggered a wet slab (slow-rolling cement) at about 7400' on the skier's left side of the lower pitch. This is where the pitch steepens again to ~35 deg and had been in the sun longer. The crown was 4-6" deep and 30' wide. I'd guess the slide ran for ~200 feet. No one was caught or carried. It was big enough to potentially hurt someone but shallow enough I don't think it would have buried anyone. D2 based on potential injury and path length.
Solid reminder to keep stoke in check despite the sunshine, and to monitor temp changes more carefully.