West aspects showing slide potential where pockets of wind loaded snow are near shallow triggers such as rocks or trees.
Signs of Unstable Snow
Did you see shooting cracks?
Did you experience collapsing or whumpfing?
Collapsing snow pack and shooting cracks were observed on the west aspects of the Wheeler up route around the red rocks area. The snow pack is generally punchy enough to push through the weak layers with the basket side of a ski pole.
While ascending near the trees of red rocks, skiers left side, I produced an audible whomp and a crack propagated up hill on a wind loaded slab. The trigger point was near a shallow spot in the snowpack next to a tree.
Additionally, I observed a west aspect avalanche on the south west side of Wheeler Peak demonstrating the potential for the wind slab to step down to the weak layer under the right conditions.
Observed Avalanche Problem #1:
Wind loading is causing cohesive slabs to form in catches on top of weak early season layers.