January 5, 2017

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

gulmarg avalanche

Snowpack Discussion

Roofs around Gulmarg meadow and around the gondola facilities are starting to avalanche. Be mindful of them today and as more snow accumulates in coming days. If you choose to venture into the Gulmarg backcountry today and in the coming days, be careful of rocks, fallen trees, and other hidden objects just beneath the snow surface. While there is enough snow to ski and ride on currently, this is the first significant snowfall of the season. We do not have a base yet. Keep your speed low to manage this objective hazard.   Dry loose snow avalanches are possible today and in the coming days on steeper terrain in the Gulmarg backcountry at all elevations. The danger of these avalanches is potential trauma from being carried into terrain traps.  Terrain traps include gullies, rocks, and trees. Choose low angle slopes today well below treeline and in the coming days to avoid this avalanche hazard. Avoid travel beneath the large backcountry bowls of Mount Apharwat today and in the coming days as snow accumulates. A large storm slab has formed. Choose low angle slopes well below treeline if you choose to go into the backcountry in Gulmarg. Travel in groups only.

Choose to ride in groups in the forests of Gulmarg. http://www.deepsnowsafety.org/index.php/. 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 – 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.


Avalanche Problem #2 – Storm Slab

Problem Description – Release of a soft cohesive layer (a slab) of new snow that breaks within the storm snow or on the old snow surface. Storm-slab problems typically last between a few hours and few days. Storm-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.

You can reduce your risk from Storm Slabs by waiting a day or two after a storm before venturing into steep terrain. Storm slabs are most dangerous on slopes with terrain traps, such as timber, gullies, over cliffs, or terrain features that make it difficult for a rider to escape off the side.

Weather Forecast (link:http://www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Gulmarg/6day/mid)


Gulmarg Ski Area (green zone) Timings for 5/1/2017:
Phase 1 – 12:00pm – 4:00pm (last cabin at 4:00pm)
Phase 2 – closed
Chair Lift – closed


Next avalanche talk is Tuesday 10 January, 2017 at 7:30pm at Pine Palace Resort. Pine Palace Resort is located in Gulmarg meadow. Talks will continue every Tuesday night at 7:30 pm through 28 March, 2017.