So Colorado has finally gotten into the storm cycle. Quietly over the last 3-4 weeks we have been approaching 100" of snow in the Central and Northern mountains. In the Colorado drips and drabs fashion 2-6" at a time, close to every day or every two days. So when you keep putting fluff on top of fluff it adds up. Time to revisit Black Lakes ridge at Vail Pass.
Last time we went back there, the ridge was super tender. The convexity and amount of recent snow made it hair trigger. I easily set off a slide testing the slope.
Needless to say that was a short day. Low light conditions, high avy danger, led to us staying lower down on the ridge and bailing out pretty early. Sometimes you just go for a 4 mile hike with not many benefits.
This time around the four mile hike was worth it.
Killclimbz... (photo by Mike Bean)
Cody (photo by Mike Bean)
Chris (photo by Mike Bean)
Lauren (photo by Mike Bean)
Being wary of the ridge from my experience there three weeks prior we did some digging around to check out the snow pack.
Chris setting up an extended column test.
We got a failure at the 7th strike from the elbow, no propagation. The first foot or so of snow is what failed. A yellow flag, but not terrible. The problem was that the remaining snow also broke at a 7th strike from the elbow. It also propagated all the way across. This was about a 4ft block of snow.
Not a good sign, if you managed to get the snow to step down it could rip big.
Here is a shot of the faceted layer that has been plaguing the bottom of our snow pack all season.
This is an area that is prone to slides but they don't have the space to run far.
A full burial is not extremely likely, but being carried over a cliff and into trees is. So we decided to play the manage your terrain game. We stayed out of the areas with the biggest consequences and ended up having a great day.
Pillow(Photo by Mike Bean)