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Wet-Loose on Gray Butte

Location Name: 
Gray Butte
Mt. Shasta
Date and time of observation: 
Tue, 04/11/2023 - 11:30am
Observation made by: 
Red Flags:
Recent avalanche activity
Rapid warming

Location Map

96067 Mount Shasta , CA
United States
41° 20' 34.3212" N, 122° 11' 10.2876" W
California US

Snowpack Observations


Today I struck out on an all-encompassing tour of Gray Butte with the objective to set foot on all aspects and assess the snow for rising instabilities near and below treeline. At 1000 hours on the top of Gray Butte temperatures were below freezing. The wind was blowing at light to moderate speed from the northwest with a brisk wind chill. The sky was mostly clear and the sun was shining strong. Wet-loose slide were easily initiated on easterly and southerly slopes in terrain steeper than 35 degrees and gouged groves multiple feet deep into the snowpack. Where surface snow presented wet and easily penetrable depths (> 10 cm / 5 in) is where this problem was found. Wet-loose debris, most likely from yesterday, scattered the forest floor. Hundreds of feet above, ridgelines with large drooping cornices perched on top could be seen. Mushy conditions would instantly turn to frozen surfaces behind the shade of a tree, making for variable and dangerous riding conditions in forested areas. No natural wet-loose activity was spotted during my outing. However, I did observe a strong northwest wind blowing snow off the top of mount Shasta nearly the entire time I was out. Northerly aspects were slow to rebound and surfaces remained frozen near ridge tops, with surfaces at mid-slope slowly loosening up by midday. On the plus side, southerly aspects displayed met-freeze snow textures and the snow pack seems to be on its way to becoming isothermal. 

  • Observation Location: Gray Butte 
  • Elevation: 7,000 feet 
  • Date: 2023.04.11
  • Time: 1130
  • Observer: E.Falconer
  • Sky Conditions: [Clear (CLR) | Few (FEW) 
  • Current Precipitation: Type - NO
  • Air Temperature: 28 °F
  • Surface Penetration: Ski penetration (PS) = 5 in (10 cm), boot penetration (PF) = 15 in (38 cm)
  • Wind Direction: WNW
  • Wind Speed: [Calm (C), 0 mi/hr | Light (L), 1-16 mi/hr, twigs in motion | Moderate (M), 17-25 mi/hr, small trees sway 


  • Drooping northeast facing cornices
  • Conditions on a northeast aspects near treeeline
  • 35 degree south facing slope near treeline
  • 35 degree east facing slope near treeline
  • Wet-loose bed surface with deep gouge in the middle
  • Debris Pile
  • Massive roller ball or cornice track!?
  • The upper mountain
  • A ripping northwest wind blowing snow off and  onto southeast aspects
  • The type of snow suspect to causing wet-loose avalanches :(
  •  Melt-freeze snow on south aspect near treeline ;)
  • Old debris pile below the north slopes of Gray Butte from 04.09.2023

Weather Observations


Cloud Cover: 
25% of the sky covered by clouds
Blowing Snow: 
Accumulation rate: 
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Air temperature trend: 
Wind Speed: 
Wind Direction: