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Today we headed up to the Ski Park with the goal of being able to check out all the new snow on multiple aspects. Unlike many of the prior storms this season, this latest round didn't have nearly as ferocious a wind component. Because of this, we were curious to see if snowfall would be more uniformly distributed than many prior events.
We initially dropped off the backside of Douglas, onto a south-facing slope and checked things out. Everywhere we checked we found the same thing. There is a crust between 80 -90 cm deep, with nothing but loose, unconsolidated snow on top. We didn't find any evidence of slab formation or activity. On to the next test zone.
We made our way down to the Landing, and from there over to McKenzie Butte itself, our main objective for the day. The thing that's nice about the Butte, is that it's small enough to allow us to check out various orientations without covering nearly as much ground as would be required in some other areas. Once again, we found the same crust at a nearly identical depth, everywhere we looked.
Naturally, we jumped and stomped on every appropriate test slope we could find, expecting to get some of this new snow to move around. It's stubborn. You can see in some of the photos that we were able to get some small "blocks" to break loose. First, they're not as block-like as the photos might appear, and are actually much more loose. We were only able to get those to move on small slopes that are over 40 degrees. Essentially the lips of large treewells, and other extremely steep micro-terrain features. A person would be hard-pressed to get this to actually slide, short of trying their hardest as we were. Way up high, in more wind-affected terrain, this may be a bit of a different story.
As we made our way from the top of McKenzie Butte back towards the Ski Park, the day was definitely heating up. Even in just the few minutes it took us to ski down, the snow quality had changed to noticeably more heavy. In areas exposed to a lot of solar radiation, I would expect the snowpack to settle a fair amount and start to consolidate.
- Observation Location: McKenzie Butte
- Elevation: 6,000 feet
- Date: 20230329
- Time: 1030 - 1300
- Observer: Casey G
- Sky Conditions: Overcast
- Current Precipitation: Lightly snowing
- Air Temperature: Below freezing to start - above freezing by the end
- Surface Penetration: Ski penetration (PS) = 16 in, boot penetration (PF) = real deep
- Wind Speed: Calm