As the snow barrelled down on the Sierra last week, the avalanche danger risk got higher and higher, resulting in a rare ‘extreme’ rating towards the end of the week. The Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center has highlighted a number of skier-triggered avalanches from the last few days, warning that the snowpack is still dangerous at the moment. Don’t let your powder fever lure you into making bad decisions. We have a long season ahead.
Make no mistake we are dealing with a dangerous snowpack at the moment. A heavy new load sitting on top of a weak base = avalanches that are difficult to predict but have the potential to be large and destructive. A wide range of avalanche activity has been reported in the last couple of days. Most notably a skier triggered persistent slab avalanche in the Punta Bardini area of the Sherwins on the afternoon of 1/30.
Image 1 (above): An incident occurred this afternoon in the Punta Bardina area of the Sherwins resulting in a Very large, Skier triggered, persistent slab avalanche. The avalanche had a 4-5ft deep crown, was 300-400 ft wide, and ran for about 1500 ft. One skier was caught, carried, and injured. Thankfully it was not worse. The red line represents the crown line. The Black x represents the spot where skier 1 triggered the avalanche and the circle represents where skier 1 was able to stop themselves by grabbing a tree.
Image 2: Widespread natural persistent slab and wind slab avalanche activity in Lee vining Canyon. The very large wind slabs on the high peaks likely occurred mid storm and have largely filled back in. The Persistent slab activity near and below treeline likely occurred near the end of the storm on the morning of 1-29 and ranged in size from large to very large.
Images 3 & 4: A very large avalanche occurred on the east side of McGee Mountain yesterday afternoon(1/29). Reports suggest this avalanche occurred naturally mid-day after a party ascended through the path. (Image 3) The avalanche slid through and covered much of their skin track. (image 4)
Thank you to the parties involved for coming forward and sharing the details of these incidents so that we can use them as a learning opportunity. We are grateful for your transparency and vulnerability.
Click the link to view our observation page for more information.
Don’t let your powder fever lure you into making bad decisions. We have a long season ahead.