While I was away last weekend teaching Colorado Mountain College’s Level 2 avalanche course, between two and five feet of snow fell in the Crested Butte Backcountry. Today was a brilliant bluebird morning, so we went up to have a look at all this new snow and maybe do a little bit of skiing. Below are some observations and photos of our findings.

Wx: 1435 @ 12000ft. Sky:OVC Precip: S-1 Wind: M,W Temp: -14.5C. Temps dropped dramatically later in the afternoon.

Avalanche Activity: Observed many natural avalanches in the area with most occurring on solar aspects. The most notable of which were in the upper Red Lady Basin. We triggered HS-AC-R2-D2-O dropping a large (town bus sized!) and very tender cornice from the summit: crown was between 4 and 6 ft tall and ran roughly 1000′. Completed a fracture line profile of HS-N-R2-D3-O: a natural avalanche of over 800ft wide and running 1200′ with a crown of up to six feet tall and P+ hardness. Overall depth and distribution of snow near ridgetop indicated very strong and sustained N wind.

Red Lady BasinHS-AC-R2-D2-O and HS-N-R2-D3-O

Spx: Descended the bed surface into the basin to examine debris that was easily over 10ft deep in places. Settled and wind stiffened snow and experienced some minor cracking on rolls steeper than 30 degrees.

20100222_Crested Butte Avalanche Center_Snow_Profileclick image for profile

While we didn’t end up skiing all that much, we certainly did get a good solid wind-blasting up on the top of Mt. Emmons and spent plenty of time dorking out on snow getting Chris psyched for his upcoming AIARE Level III course. Not too many folks out playing on this elevated danger day, but what a treat to be out ski touring (as always!) and learning about our local snowpack.

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Detailed weather and avalanche information for the Crested Butte Backcountry can be found at the Crested Butte Avalanche Center or by calling (970) 349-4022. Please remember to submit your weather and snowpack observations as they are critical in maintaining an accurate avalanche forecast and a healthy backcountry community.