Avalanche danger

Submitted by Doug Chabot on Tue, 12/10/2013 - 06:59
Avalanche activity reported around the Dribbles/Avalanche Gulch area. From today's advisory: Wind-loading over the last 36 hours has changed the stability for the worse. Avalanches were reported yesterday: a small natural slide at the head of Truman Gulch in the Bridger Range, a natural slide up Hyalite in an ice filled gully appropriately named “Avalanche Gulch”, and nearby, a small wind slab was triggered by an ice climber. Strong and gusty winds coupled with new snow will create dangerous avalanche conditions throughout southwest Montana. Winds are blowing at the ridgetops and also cross-loading slopes at mid elevations. I expect more natural avalanche activity today on wind-loaded slopes. Get the full advisory here: http://www.mtavalanche.com/advisory/13/12/10 More to follow.

This is from Wednesday's advisory. The danger is HIGH today and will likely trend to CONSIDERABLE in the next few days without new snow. The poor snow structure will not change anytime soon and although the likelihood of triggering avalanches will decrease, the consequences of getting caught remain serious. "Yesterday Mark and I went up Hyalite to scope out avalanche conditions for this week’s Ice Festival. What we found was not pretty. Hard slabs of windblown snow are sitting on large faceted grains and are very easily triggered. There were many avalanches yesterday: we kicked off the hangfire of a slide by the Dribbles (video, photo), a climber was almost swept off the Fat One (photo) and other climbers triggered slides and had shooting cracks throughout Hyalite and Flanders. We also had a slab of ice fracture on facets at Mummy 2, the first time I’ve ever seen anything like it (video, photo, photo), which we took as a serious warning. If the facets are weak enough to collapse and propagate a fracture under ice, wind slabs don’t stand a chance! My advice is to stay away from all the gullies since they have wind-loaded snow that will very likely avalanche. Be careful climbing underneath them and be especially wary about triggering a slide onto someone below. Small avalanches that would be inconsequential to a skier are fatal to an ice climber. Outside of the ice climbing zone, the snowpack in Hyalite is deeper and more stable, but today’s winds will continue loading slopes at the higher elevations. The avalanche danger today is HIGH on all wind-loaded slopes and CONSIDERABLE on all others." All videos and photos can be found at www.mtavalanche.com