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post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-09-2009, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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PSA: Kicking off an avalanche

All around the west there are reports of the snow pack just being sketchy all the way around. This is pretty much the standard for Colorado, with a continental snow pack it's always dicey until spring when the snow goes isothermal. Yet this year is a standout like I haven't seen ever. I was up on Vail Pass yesterday and we managed to set off 3 avalanches. Two remotely triggered and one with a snowboard cut.

We dug a pit and did a Rutschblock test. The results were a RB3. The slab held when we cut it out, and when Adam stepped on it. As soon as he did the hip drop it released.

Basiscally there was a buried surface hoar layer on a hard slab. New snow over 36" in this area. Tom looking at part of the surface area of the slab that broke loose.

To get the bottom slab to go Adam had to get up to 7 hops. So at least that was bomber. The shear was very fractured so not really showing any pent up energy in the release. Still we had a huge red flag with a RB3 result. We went over to more broken terrain that should be less likely to slide. Adam did a slope cut and the thing ripped about 50ft wide.

and a closer look at the slab. This was plenty of snow to bury a person.

We did ride down the avy path since the snow was clear. On the way back to the ridge I remotely released another slide bigger than that one from the ridge about 30 feet away. That was enough and we left. Having a mini epic with leaving to boot.
This is definitely a year to evaluate the snow carefully, choose lines wisely, and just plain old turn around and leave if the danger is high enough.
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