16 January 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

Avalanche danger is Considerable (3) at and above 3000 meters.  Natural avalanches are possible, human triggered avalanches are likely.  Snowfall is forecasted for throughout the day today.  The brunt of the forecasted overnight heavy snowfall passed to the South of Gulmarg.  The #1 avalanche problem for today is Persistent Slab above 3000 meters. The areas with snow in the photo below (see avalanche problems) contain depth hoar, and have a slab sitting on top of this persistent weak layer, and now with a new load of snow on top of this slab.  It’s best ski in the forests well below Mount Apharwat today. Do take notice that this persistent weak layer also exists right at treeline.  Remember that even light loads of snow can trigger a persistent slab.  Avalanche Problem #2 today at all elevations is Dry Loose avalanches.  See the avalanche problems description below to understand these two avalanche problems further. The new snow we have received in the past 36 hours is low density and isn’t likely to form slabs.

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 – Persistent Slab

Release of a cohesive layer of soft to hard snow (a slab) in the middle to upper snowpack, when the bond to an underlying persistent weak layer breaks. Persistent layers include: surface hoar, depth hoar, near-surface facets, or faceted snow. Persistent weak layers can continue to produce avalanches for days, weeks or even months, making them especially dangerous and tricky. As additional snow and wind events build a thicker slab on top of the persistent weak layer, this avalanche problem may develop into a Deep Persistent Slab.
The best ways to manage the risk from Persistent Slabs is to make conservative terrain choices. They can be triggered by light loads and weeks after the last storm. The slabs often propagate in surprising and unpredictable ways. This makes this problem difficult to predict and manage and requires a wide safety buffer to handle the uncertainty.

A photograph of Mount Apharwat from 22 December 2016. Where you see snow in this image is likely where depth hoar persists.

Avalanche Problem #2 – Dry Loose

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:http://www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Gulmarg/6day/mid)


Gulmarg Ski Area (green zone) Timings for 16/1/2017:
Phase 1 – 9:30am – 4:30pm (last cabin at 4:15pm)
Phase 2 – CLOSED
Chair Lift – CLOSED


Next avalanche talk is Tuesday 17 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.