April 2

On any Sunday

Spring storms continue into April. The latest in the series on the first folowed the pattern of warm temperatures and strong pre frontal winds, prior to snowfall. This combination created some unstable snow conditions, discovered yesterday.

Those conditions were slow to heal, with details found here.

I had a couple of strong partners, Andrew and Polly.The skiing was good, with careful route selection needed for safe travel.

We started at the Alta guard station following a route done numerous times this winter. Several skier trigered slides were noted prior to reaching Cardiff pass and the north facing.

The first run was off the Black Knob, otherwise known as LSB or Little Superior buttress.

A split boarder, known from a couple of previous encounters, joined the group in route.

Great to watch on the descent, throwing up nice rooster tails and petting the dog.

In route to the first run, we encountered a camera man, set up on the Eyebrow for filming skiers on Cardiac ridge. They already had a trail broken, with a short traverse leading to the bottom. The results of the groups run are well documented accessed from the avalanche conditions link.

We followed the climbing track to the ridge, deciding to ski a conservative line after watching the film crew.

A little wind drift avalanche initiated with passage from the earler group, helped in that decision.

While the excitment was occuring on the ridge, a trail had been broken to Caridac bowl. We took advantage, following till a slight adjustment was required to gain the summit of Superior. The skier's left chute remaine untouched so,

we dived down it. The party of four gained an old hippie.

I know him well and he's not a bad skier, evidenced by his track.

Out token splitter also enjoys the run down the left chute.

A look up from the bottom confirms the quality of the snow and the skiers tracking it up.

I stitched this pano together from photos taken on the second ascent, showing further damage done by the time we'd made it back for a look and see.

We followed the same up track making a descison to ski into upper Mill B south off the Superior ridge. I thought, with the obvious wind drifting, slope cutting would create a slide. It didn't on me, however a slight traverse to the west cause the release of a small wind drifted pocket.

Not a very long run, but it allowed us to access upper Mineral, after a short climb.

There was a bit of natural activity in the upper bowl during the storm, providing an escape route in case of further avalanche.

The snow had by this time, stabilized with the mild temperatures.

Andrew pushes those little K2 rando skis about as far as they'll go,

showing how you pet the dog, with heels locked onto skis.

The old hippie picks a clean line as usual,

casting a quizzical glance at the guy with the camera as he descends.

Iit ain't the blower in your face powdah, but no complaints are heard.

The next pitch provides more of the same

Rounding the bend, the discovery that Santiago spit up again is made. It leaves enough room to get a little fancy between debris piles.


Alta guard station to Little Superior buttress descending. Cardiac ridge was descended followed by Cardiac bowl from the top followed by an entry into Mill B south and and entry into Mineral fork descending out Mineral Fork


It was a bluebird with moderate temperatures increasing to mild as the day progressed. Exited the mountains before 3pm because of the increased temperatures.


A cool morning provided dry powder on south facing quickly replaced with mashed potatoes. East facing followed the same pattern as did west by afternoon, leaving dry snow on upper elevation shady slopes. There was a fairly widespread natural cycle on east and northeast facing from yesterday’s snow and strong winds, both in Cardiff and Mineral fork. Human triggered slides were noted on the east facing Cardiff bowl and Toledo chute.

Another slide was triggered in upper Mill B south north facing with a ski cut. It didn't run very far. All these slides were a foot or so in depth involving only yesterday’s snow. The weak layer was a poor bond with the old surface. That old surface was predominantly a thin melt freeze crust created by the warm temperatures prior to the recent snowfall. The skier triggered slide was likely the result of warming on that aspect combined with a little wind load.

Bottom Line:

The temperatures today should have eliminated most if not all of the instabilities related to the new snowfall. No guarantee. Hazard would be primarily from the forecasted warmer temperatures and may extend into mid elevation shady slopes not feeling the heat today.

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