March 5, 2016

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

gulmarg avalanche

Snowpack Discussion

The main concern of the avalanche advisory today. Steep avalanche prone terrain above 3900 meters with terrain traps beneath. While many skiers and riders in the Gulmarg community are capable of riding such terrain, the main concern is if it were to avalanche. Reactive wind slabs continue to lurk at higher altitudes in the Gulmarg backcountry, with the main concern not being the avalanche itself (relatively small), but the terrain it would carry you over if you were caught. See the avalanche danger rose below to learn which aspects are most prone.

We’ve received a pulse of snowfall above 3000 meters each afternoon over the past 3 days with Light to Moderate winds. Overall avalanche danger above 3000 meters is Moderate (2). Natural avalanches are unlikely, human-triggered avalanches are possible. Old Wind slabs exist from the storm 12 days ago on leeward aspects from 3500-4200 meters beneath ridge tops and in mid-slope isolated terrain features. It is unlikely you will trigger one of these slabs, and they’ve exhibited bonding to the old snow surface in recent snow pit tests. My main concern is beneath isolated ridge top features on Northerly aspects above 3900 meters. Choose your terrain wisely today, with an eye for terrain traps such as rocks or cliffs.

A brief period of mixed rain and snow below 3000 meters yesterday does little to change the overall snow stability. Avalanche danger below 3000 meters is Low (1). Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.

Radar models are currently showing snow and rain coming in this afternoon, with freezing levels around 2800 meters. Showers are forecasted to continue throughout the night.

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 – 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: