While skiing this steep line in the northern range yesterday, a 12-18″ slab released
to my right on the fourth turn.Â Luckily, it didn’t pull-out above me and I was able to ski
away unscathed.Â You can see the crown lower on the ridge on the right, and if you look
close enough, the powder cloud about halfway down the slope.
(Click photos for larger image.)
With all the snow we have had in Jackson this year (606″ total), needless to say it has been a tough year to get out and ski the bigger, steeper lines. Some people have sneaked in some nice descents when the conditions have allowed, but the timing with good weather has definitely been a little tricky. I’ve been trying to keep the reigns pulled-in in an effort of self preservation for when the snowpack finally consolidates, but yesterday, I got a little overzealous I guess and got into some pretty steep terrain with some wind-loaded snow not quite bonded well enough with the lower layers and a slab pulled out. The slab wasn’t too big, but I’m sure it could have done some damage if a skier was in the right spot when it ripped. Luckily, I wasn’t. Here are some more photos from the day.
This was some interesting avy debris lower in the canyon. The sides were
completely vertical, like it had run through some sort of gully
and kept its shape after it exited.
Waist to nipple deep snow as we wallowed up the couloir.
Reed on the ridge seeking easier terrain…no dice!
This was the turn the slab released on…luckily, at the tails of my skis.
Hiding behind a rock as Reed skis the hang-fire.
With death avoided, it’s all sunshine now.
I’ll take another serving of this please!
Reed gets his own stoke in the couloir.
glad to hear you are alright. are those the carbon justices? how do you like them?
yes, the carbon justices and i LOVE them!!!! they are 175s, which is usually a shortish length for me, but i find them to ski powder fast and aggressively quite well.
Sounds like a close call – glad everything ended up OK.
You seem to have a good understanding of snow pack dynamics. Do you ever do any stability tests to augment your gut feelings about stability. Shred-on.
sbsmith…not sure if you are being sarcastic or what, but usually i just poke and prod at the snow with my poles and hands. i’m not really into digging pits because i feel that there are so many spacial variabilities, many of the finer points in snowpit analysis might not really be representative of the whole snowpack. if the big-one is gonna get me, i think i will know well before a pit tells me. maybe i’m wrong, but that’s the way i feel about it.
i was a bit spooked on how much newish snow and how “upside-down” the snowpack appeared lower in the couloir and probably would have pulled the plug lower if i was on my own. that being said, we did turn around below the top of our objective when the consequence of getting caught in a slide got much larger. it was a pretty isolated slab, since it didn’t pull-out deeper up-and-down or wall-to-wall in the couloir, so getting involved with a time consuming “pit” in one particular point in the snowpack might not have really helped that much.
Looks to me like a small pocket within a twist in the general aspect of the couloir. Probably just enough of a turn to cause an isolated accumulation from the wind. A few feet to the left and you probably would have never seen a thing. Just random. Hard to notice every subtle contour. I agree that a pit dug anywhere but right there would have revealed little similarities. Way to keep it real and come home to talk about it. BTW, that shit looked DEEP! Surprised you didn’t get out the shovel for that booter.
Great photos! Glad you got back safe. I agree about not waying too much data on pits. I feel like constant weather observations tell me much more than an isolated pit.
thanks to reeders for the pics!
(of course it’s never sunny when he skis. :))
I’d put ya up for a webby for “Personal Blog/Website” if ya ever did anything the least bit risky and lived to tell about it; but clearly, that’s not happening…
oh…your one of those. thanks.
That was a compliment and not a backhanded one. Did ya take it the wrong way? Humor doesn’t often work well online.
I was sincere and simply curious.
Sounds like a good intro to lead into a discussion about intentional ski cuts and skiing like it’s gonna slide when there’s multiple layers of fresh snow around.
it’s that time of year when the new snow holds the real danger…today in montana i skied a steep couloir with only a dog, while tomorrow that action would be really unsafe
Some more Justice info please. Worth the weight? Are you still in the Dynafit boots for this kind of tour? What about your Drifts?
cj…a big YES on the carbon justice!!! i’m mostly using the Dynafit TLT5ps with them and LOVING IT!!! i will go back to the drifts once the snow firms up a little bit more…which should be soon. it’s a 1lb 4oz weight savings by going with the drifts…so worth it on the longer tours.
Fuck Yea Steve
glad your alright bro
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