>I try not to be complacent about any of my backcountry skiing but it sobered me when I heard late yesterday that a group of our local skiers were involved in avalanche activity in the Girl’s Camp Bowl area off Pine Creek, between Swan Valley and Victor. Very fortunately, no one was buried or hurt but it reminds me that all skiable slopes must be treated with respect, even ones I think of as “close to home”…low elevation….the “go to spot” when other areas are too dangerous.
I headed to the site this morning with Rick to check out the avalanche to see what I could learn and to add to my understanding of snow dynamics and my own decision making.
The slope was skied late in the day and the temps were warm. We saw lots of rollers and sluffs on the way up but the night was cold and we left the parking area in the teens.
We dug 2 pits of our own, both about 6700-6800′, the same elevations as the avalanche and on similiar aspects. Our second pit was about 100′ west of the avalanche. Both pits showed relatively stable conditions (high 20s on the compression tests) and the layer that did shear was an older buried surface hoar about 2′ down , not the more recent buried layer from last weekend.
Looking at the avalanche events, we saw 2 slide areas, one that slid into a subtle drainage feature and was about 50-70′ wide with an 8-12″ crown; the other started east of the first and a bit lower in elevation, triggered by a traversing ski cut and it too was 50-70′ across with a 12-14″ crown. The sliding surface appears to have been the latest buried surface hoar layer and the snow from both slides merged to form a large debris field that filtered through a stand of trees before settling out in brush 200-300′ downslope.
This video shows our test pit about 100′ west of the slide and of the slide area itself
Debris fields from two naturally released slides west of the avalanche. You can see a narrow slab pull-out just right of the small tree upper center on the slope
upper edge of the debris field and below the bed surface of the first/westmost slide
likely trigger point for the first slide, upper center on a small rollover, you can also see the crown depth to the right
looking west towards the GC Bowl over the east/second slide with the west/ first slide in the gentle drainage behind Rick. Notice the crown depth above Rick and the smooth bed surface of the slide
looking at both slides