March 8, 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

Clear skies this morning with radar showing some patchy clouds coming through this afternoon.  No precipitation forecasted for today.   Overall avalanche danger above 3000 meters is Moderate (2). Natural avalanches are unlikely, human-triggered avalanches are possible. Thin Wind slabs exist on leeward aspects from 3500-4200 meters beneath ridge tops and in mid-slope isolated terrain features.  Small dry loose avalanches will be possible on steeper aspects. Avoid steeper terrain with terrain traps beneath today (rocks, cliffs).  See the avalanche danger roses below to find what aspects are prone for small wind slab avalanches and dry loose avalanches.

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 – 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.

wind slab
The Gulmarg Ski Patrol analyzing a wind slab beneath a ridgetop on Mount Apharwat a few weeks ago. You can expect to find this instability today beneath ridge tops in isolated areas of the Gulmarg backcountry. Some users are reporting images to be loading upside down for some browsers accessing this site. If your browser is loading this image upside down, simply flip your phone upside down to view it. We are working on this problem and are aware of it.

Avalanche Problem #2 – Dry Loose


Problem Description – Release of dry unconsolidated snow. These avalanches typically occur within layers of soft snow near the surface of the snowpack. Loose-dry avalanches start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Other names for loose-dry avalanches include point-release avalanches or sluffs. Loose-dry avalanches can trigger slab avalanches that break into deeper snow layers.

Loose Dry avalanches are usually relatively harmless to people. They can be hazardous if you are caught and carried into or over a terrain trap (e.g. gully, rocks, dense timber, cliff, crevasse) or down a long slope. Avoid traveling in or above terrain traps when Loose Dry avalanches are likely.

A dry loose avalanche. The danger with these avalanches is being carried over rocks of cliffs. Avoid steeper terrain with rocks, cliffs, and trees beneath today.

Weather Forecast (link: