26 January 2017

What does the scale above mean to you as a skier or snowboarder in the Gulmarg backcountry? Remember, this advisory is for the Gulmarg backcountry, which means the terrain that is outside of Gulmarg Ski Area. The red areas in the photo below are the Gulmarg backcountry, and the green area is Gulmarg Ski Area. This advisory does not apply to the green zone ski area. Read more here.


gulmarg avalanche

Snowpack Discussion

Avalanche danger above 3000 meters is High (4) today as additional snow accumulates. Natural avalanches likely, human triggered avalanches very likely. At Treeline (3000m) and below, the avalanche danger is High (4). Natural avalanches likely, human triggered avalanches are likely. Small avalanches in many areas can be expected.  The #1 avalanche problem for today is Storm Slab above 3000 meters.  We have a building cohesive layer of snow (a slab) sitting on top of the old snow surface. There is a poor bond between the old snow surface and the new Storm slab.  See the avalanche problems section below to read more about this avalanche problem. The #2 avalanche problem for today is Dry Loose avalanches. Dry loose avalanches can be expected at all elevations and on all aspects within the new storm snow. Avoid travel beneath the bowls of Mount Apharwat today. Be careful around roofs in Gulmarg, they are likely to avalanche.  During snowpack observations yesterday below Treeline, I observed numerous natural avalanches that could injure a skier or snowboarder.  In one location, we pushed a block of snow onto a slope to test its stability, the slope slid in a sizeable dry loose avalanche that broke branches on small trees below. Today is not a day for skiing and snowboarding. Allow the snow to settle and adjust to its new load. The brunt of this storm is forecasted to finish tonight.

http://www.deepsnowsafety.org/index.php/. We now have enough snow in the conifer forests 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 – Storm Slab

gulmarg avalanche

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.

Avalanche Problem #2 – Dry Loose

gulmarg avalanche

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 26/1/2017:
Phase 1 –CLOSED*
Phase 2 – CLOSED
Chair Lift – CLOSED

*We are concerned about large natural avalanches coming down from Mount Apharwat and into the ski area today. For this reason, the ski area will be closed today.


Next avalanche talk is tonight, Tuesday, 31 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.