After traveling in the Southern Wallowas over the past 5 days, the layer of primary concern that was found in the snowpack in 3 different locations was a layer of preserved buried Surface Hoar/Facets. This persistent weak layer was found in three snowpits, and reactive to snowpack tests in two of these pits. We targeted this layer of concern on North Facing terrain between 7,000'-7,500'. This weak layer was identified in terrain above Fish Lake, and out towards the Blue Creek Saddle, above the Clear Creek Cabin.
There have been no reported Natural or Rider triggered avalanches on the layer of concern, but it's worth watching if we see a significant spring storm.
The weather yesterday was pretty benign. Weather forecasts were not accurate, and during the day the Southern Wallowas received sporadic snowfall, with limited accumulation above 7,000'. Skies were mostly overcast, with periods of sun peaking through. Winds were light from the North, and no snow was being transported in the zone we rode in.
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South Side Red Mountain
For our AIARE Motorized Level 2 Course, we dug snowpits in two different locations, to target a layer of buried surface hoar the instructors had identified on a terrain preview ride on 2/10. This layer was initially noticed on an N-facing slope at 7,500' between the Clear Creek Cabin and the Blue Creek Saddle. We also found this persistent weak layer in 2 snowpits yesterday above Fish Lake at 7,000'. This layer was reactive in snowpack tests, and although we haven't heard any reports of Natural or human-triggered avalanches on this layer, it's something we will continue to track. Unfortunately, this weak layer will continue to exist in the snowpack, likely for the next month, and a large loading event of significant warmup could bring this layer of concern to life.
We stuck to simple terrain for the most part during our course. Some challenging terrain was ridden in, but we avoided slopes >30 degrees on N facing slopes Near Treeline so that we wouldn't have to engage with the buried surface hoar that was reactive in our snowpack tests.Close