March 4, 2016

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What does the scale above mean to you as a skier or rider in the Gulmarg backcountry? Read more here.

gulmarg avalanche

Snowpack Discussion

Overall avalanche danger above 3000 meters is Moderate (2). Natural avalanches are unlikely, human-triggered avalanches are possible. The two primary avalanche problems are Wind slabs, and Wet Loose avalanches. Wind slabs exist on leeward aspects from 3500-4200 meters beneath ridge tops and in mid-slope isolated terrain features.

Wet loose avalanches are possible during the warmest hours of the day today from 3000-3500 meters on very steep (>35 degrees) sunny aspects. The size of wind slabs and wet loose avalanches will be small, with the main danger not being the avalanches themselves, but the terrain you could potentially be carried over if you were caught in one. As with all days, choose your terrain wisely today.

Avalanche danger below 3000 meters is Low (1). Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.

Choose to ride in groups in the forests of Gulmarg. We now have enough snow in the conifer forests above 3200 meters for skiers and riders to get trapped in tree wells. Read more about this phenomenon in the link above. It causes several fatalities each year in other ski regions of the globe.

See daily snow observations, snow pits, and data from Luke Smithwick and the Gulmarg Ski Patrol. Sign up for a free Avanet account.
See daily snow observations, snow pits, and data from Luke Smithwick and the Gulmarg Ski Patrol. Sign up for a free Avanet account.


Avalanche Problem #1 – Wet Loose


Problem Description – Release of wet unconsolidated snow or slush. These avalanches typically occur within layers of wet snow near the surface of the snowpack, but they may quickly gouge into lower snowpack layers. Like Loose Dry Avalanches, they start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. They generally move slowly, but can contain enough mass to cause significant damage to trees, cars or buildings. Other names for loose-wet avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose Wet avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.

Travel when the snow surface is colder and stronger. Plan your trips to avoid crossing on or under very steep slopes in the afternoon. Move to colder, shadier slopes once the snow surface turns slushly. Avoid steep, sunlit slopes above terrain traps, cliffs areas and long sustained steep pitches.

Avalanche Problem #2 – Wind Slab

gulmarg avalanche

Problem Description – Release of a cohesive layer of snow (a slab) formed by the wind. Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Wind slabs are often smooth and rounded and sometimes sound hollow, and can range from soft to hard. Wind slabs that form over a persistent weak layer (surface hoar, depth hoar, or near-surface facets) may be termed Persistent Slabs or may develop into Persistent Slabs.

Wind Slabs form in specific areas, and are confined to lee and cross-loaded terrain features. They can be avoided by sticking to sheltered or wind-scoured areas.

Weather Forecast (link: