Here are a few photos of another human triggered slab avalanche event along the Ski Hill Road on a northwest aspect at 5,500′. This event likely occurred on Sunday 2/24/13. The crown is approx 12″ deep by 40′ long with a debris pile reaching 3′ on average. This is the sixth known human triggered event in the Kelly Canyon area this year.
Observations conducted this week by the Kelly Canyon Ski Patrol Snow Safety Team continue to show structural concerns within a backcountry snowpack (not frontside KC terrain). Stability tests are failing with only moderate force on basal facets – which make up the bottom 20cm’s to 30cm’s of the snowpack. Wind effected terrain, where stiffer surface slabs are present, may continue to produce human triggered events on isolated steeper terrain features. In these steeper areas, I’d be concerned about trauma related injuries where a broken leg from taking a short ride into rocks or trees could end in a multi-hour rescue despite being only 30 minutes or less from the road. It’ll take a while for the County Search and Rescue to get there..
There are safe areas to ski that still hold soft snow. Just watch for and be suspicious of wind effected terrain and steeper, sunlit terrain with the forecasted weekend warming.
It’s been exciting to see all of the backcountry traffic in the Kelly Canyon area this year. The Kelly Canyon Ski Patrol Snow Safety Team would love to hear any conditions reports from backcountry skiers/boarders out and about in the Kelly Canyon/Kelly Mountain area. Stop and visit with them or leave a few field notes in the back of the Observations Book at the Patrol Building.
Stay safe out there!