March 11, 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

Poor visibility and light to moderate pulses of snowfall forecasted for today with light winds from a Southerly direction. The main danger in the Gulmarg backcountry today is visibility. How are your whiteout navigation skills?

Avalanche danger above 3000 meters is Moderate (2). Natural avalanches are unlikely, human-triggered avalanches are possible.  As snowfall accumulates throughout the day, dry loose avalanches can be expected on steeper slopes (>30 degrees) on all aspects.  Please read more about dry loose avalanches in the avalanche problems section below.

Wind slabs remain on the advisory as they still exist beneath ridge tops above 3900 meters in isolated terrain features.  The main idea is to be aware that they exist and if triggered could carry you over rocks and cliffs.  Choose terrain wisely.

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.

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.


Weather Forecast (link: