Manual The Avalanche Handbook, 3rd Edition

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Colorado Snow and Avalanche Workshop. October 17th, Breckenridge, CO A one-day seminar aimed at avalanche professionals, but with plenty of material for motivated recreationists. Sick of your local weather experts blowing the forecast? Mountain Weather Workshop. October 31st — November 2nd, October 10thth, Jackson, WY. I put together a list of some of the classic avalanche literature out there.

Grab a book for the next rainy or snowy day! By Doug Fesler and Jill Fredston.

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International Snow Science Workshop Proceedings. Free online here. Yesterday, we got a brief and silty taste of the Dirty Thirties when a major dust storm blew over Crested Butte. Scarp Ridge recorded wind speeds of mph the highest of the season , and these winds brought with them a sizeable chunk of Moab. How will this dust on snow event affect snow stability and avalanches?

Lets start with a key concept: albedo. Albedo is how reflective a surface is. White colors have a high albedo — they reflect a high amount of radiation energy rather than absorb it.

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain - Bruce Tremper - Google книги

Fresh snow has a very high albedo and it reflects most incoming solar energy. So thats why my mom always made me double up on sunscreen when I went skiing! On the other hand, the dark-colored dust more readily absorbs solar energy and heat, and also retains that heat longer. Dusty snow can absorb two or three times the solar energy of a clean snowpack. Whenever dust is near the surface of the snow even when its buried up to a foot deep , it amplifies the rate of surface warming, increasing the amount of snowmelt and weakening the snow around it. This leads to more frequent loose wet avalanches.

Intense melt rates send freewater deeper into the snowpack, which can also compromise the strength of deeply buried weak layers, causing an increased likelihood of wet slab avalanches. Both of these problems, with or without dust, can be avoided by monitoring how well the snowpack refreezes at night and getting off of slopes before they thaw too much.

Dust on the snow simply shortens that window of stable snow and may prevent good overnight refreezes in some situations. The second avalanche concern is that dust can do weird things when its buried by a slab of snow, and it can behave like a persistent weak layer. Because they absorb and retain heat longer, dust layers can cause wet grains above or below them to remain unfrozen and unstable longer.

Dust can also cause tremendous temperature gradients in the surrounding layers, which causes the bordering snow around it to decay and facet. This is not always the case, but it is worth checking on how reactive dust layers are after they get buried by spring storms. It will be the easiest layer you will ever identify in a snowpit! Sadly, dust on snow has negative impacts on the timing of spring runoff and water resources in the West.

On the bright side of things, your favorite mountain bike trails will melt out sooner now, and business is booming if you own a car-wash business. Did the canary just faceplant into the bottom of the cage? Warming and m eltwater will continue progressing into the snowpack, first on southerly slopes, and eventually around the compass to north. We know weak layers are at the bottom of the snowpack lurking and they are proving to be reactive. Cornice falls will become more frequent as these overhanging blocks of snow continue to thaw and sag from their own massive amounts of weight.

We are not out of the woods yet when it comes to deep slab problems. These last two slides should serve as a healthy reminder to use an extra dose of caution this spring in your backcountry travels. Be diligent in your terrain selection and in the attention you give to weather, snowpack, and avalanche patterns in the upcoming months. The first two weeks of February were exciting but sleepless times to be an avalanche forecaster. An unusually large storm was accompanied by unusual avalanches. Around the central and northern mountains of Colorado, avalanches destroyed or buried buildings, closed roads, and extended trim lines of previous historic paths.

Sadly, four fatalities occurred as well. Small doses of snow fell and wind speeds increased on February 12th through the 15th. We even saw short bouts of rain at all elevations. The natural cycle was far from over. Another natural came down to Cement Creek Road. A few more huge ones ripped off of the peaks. Thanks to Art Mears and Ben Pritchett for their contributions to this article.

We are just exiting another high pressure weather pattern that is favorable for surface hoar growth. Super well documented near miss today in the backcountry near Alta, UT. For the past several years, much of the early season buzz about whether we were going to have a killer winter or a dud revolved over. He runs a great weather blog that discusses meteorology mostly around Utah, but a ton of his material is applicable to our locale as well.

Bookmark it and check it out! Infer what you can about how the lack of ENSO will affect our weather patterns…the overarching theme being….

AVALANCHE PROBLEMS EXPLAINED

A good perspective if nothing else. My take is that the Arctic Oscillation is just as big of a contributing factor that is often over looked. In the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation the patterns are reversed. A strongly negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation brings warm weather to high latitudes, and cold, stormy weather to the more temperate regions where people live. Over most of the past century, the Arctic Oscillation alternated between its positive and negative phase. For a period during the s to mids, the Arctic Oscillation tended to stay in its positive phase.

Grant has spent a lifetime climbing, skiing and guiding in extreme terrain around the world and he has spent the past 10 years or so working as a risk management specialist for Parks Canada. Grant does a great job of explaining risk and hazard and how it relates to travel in avalanche terrain in this TED talk. Dust-ageddon in Crested Butte on March 30, Photo credit: Matt Hogan How will this dust on snow event affect snow stability and avalanches?

Pristine snow reflects radiation more effectively than dusty snow. Courtesy of Jeff Deems. Photo taken March 31, near Crested Butte. Canaries were once used in coal mining as an early warning system for toxic gases leaking into the mine. Signs of distress, or worse, a dead bird, would caution the miners that it was time to retreat from the mine.


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Last week, a warm airmass brought our first real taste of spring to the Elk Mountains. Nothing out of the ordinary as far as Crested Butte weather goes, but enough that pale white skin made its spring debut on Elk Street before hastily retreating to aloe vera treatments. On Sunday and Monday March 9 and 10 , temperatures rose to just above freezing at 12, feet under an intense March sun. Days later, following a few inches of snow and cooler temperatures, we observed the results of some very unnerving deep slab avalanches. Sometime after Monday evening, a huge slab tore off of the south face of Mt.

This appeared to be triggered by a cornice falling onto a shallow part of the slope, but it propagated to parts of the slab that were 12 feet deep. On Wednesday night, another monster ripped off of a southwest facing ridge near Avery Peak. This one raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

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Two deep slabs back to back, under relatively mild and stagnant weather. The Avery slide did not appear to be cornice-fall triggered, and has raised a lot of questions and spurred a lot of speculation on the failure mechanics among local and statewide avalanche professionals. Although meltwater on high elevation terrain has been pretty minimal to this point, it seems plausible that a hot spot on the slope, such as a sunbaked rock or simply an oven-like part of the slope, could have channeled heat and meltwater into a shallow part of the snowpack.

The timing of these events can be unpredictable. Maybe warming had subtle effects on the slab properties that added up just enough on this slope. And another. This one near Avery Peak. I ordered and dated these avalanches according to the first date that they were observed or reported to us, but the exact failure dates are open for speculation. The storm began January 30 th , with a quick and massive hit of roughly 4.

Natural avalanches were widespread, but confined to the new snow, and most common at low elevations where the surface snow was weakest. We were a bit surprised not to see any deeper slides in the alpine when the clouds cleared for a day on February 2 nd. Maybe our snowpack was tougher than we thought?? Snowfall picked up again on February 3 rd : fluffy snow, modest accumulations, with moderate winds, and a lull in avalanche activity. On the night of February 7 th , the Pacific river of moisture found a direct path to Crested Butte. Wind assisted snow transport had been steady and relentless for several days, and Gothic was the first to shed in a big way.

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