1 February 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.

For ski area updates during the day please join Gulmarg Avalanche Conditions page on Facebook: http://bit.ly/2jowwOM.

Please read the signs posted at the top of the chair lift and second phase. Ski tracks leaving the ski area do not indicate that it is safe to go there.


gulmarg avalanche

Snowpack Discussion

1 February 2017 – Avalanche danger above 3000 meters is Moderate (2) today. Natural avalanches unlikely, human triggered avalanches possible.

At Treeline (3000m) and below, the avalanche danger is Low (1). Natural and human triggered avalanches unlikely. Normal caution advised.  The #1 avalanche problem for today  is Wind Slab avalanches. Reactive Wind Slabs can be expected above 3000 meters on all aspects with the most likely locations being Northerly aspects.  Control work yesterday in the ski area revealed widespread small wind slabs that were reactive to a ski cut on North and East and South facing aspects. These slabs formed over the past few days and were 15-45 cms in thickness, failing on a wind crust that formed in the days prior.  Skiers and snowboarders that chose to go in the Mount Apharwat backcountry yesterday reported triggering wind slab avalanches that “were not small” on Northerly aspects just beneath ridgelines on convexities (rollovers) at 3400 meters. This same instability can be expected today. Choose terrain wisely with a mind for terrain traps (rocks, gullies, cliffs) beneath you. To avoid triggering avalanches you can keep your slope angles low, avoid large unsupported slopes, and stick to the top of ridgelines. Avoid skiing and snowboarding above other groups, choose another route or wait for them to clear the route. Great skiing in the ski area currently.

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 – Wind Slab

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.

The current wind slab problem on Northerly aspects at ridgetops and in mid slope isolated terrain features. This particular image is from a compression test that failed on isolation (CTVE down 25cms on a NE aspect at 3200 meters, Sudden Planar). The failure plane is a wind crust from two days prior. We are currently in a cycle of windy days and nights with small pulses of precip. producing daily fresh wind slabs.
30/1/2017 – An Extended Column Test at 3200 meters on a NE aspect. Slope angle: 45 degrees. ECTPV (Fracture propagates across the entire column on isolation). Sudden Planar down 45 cms. Failure plane was broken stellars  from the snowfall two days ago with wind loading building a slab on top of this weak low density snow. These slabs are widespread and deserve your attention. It should also be noted that there is a layer ~105 cms down that also fails upon isolation of the column yet is not a clean shear at least with two tests in this exact location. Keep spatial variability in mind and manage your terrain wisely.

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


Gulmarg Ski Area (green zone) Timings for 1/2/2017:
Phase 1 – 7:30  am – 4:30 pm
Phase 2 – 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Chair Lift – 8:00am – 4:00 pm


Next avalanche talk is Tuesday, 7 February 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.