24 March, 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.

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gulmarg avalanche

Snowpack Discussion

24 March 2017 – Avalanche danger above Treeline today is Moderate (2), natural avalanches unlikely, human triggered avalanches possible.  Active wind loading during the most recent storm cycle from the South/Southwest in the start zones of the bowls of Mount Apharwat has deposited deep reactive wind slabs that are stiff and difficult to trigger.  It is possible to trigger one of these small to medium-sized slabs at a shallow trigger point today. Trigger points include just beneath ridge lines at convexities and near rocks. See which aspects in the avalanche problems section below.  At Treeline and Below Treeline, avalanche danger is Low (1), natural and human triggered avalanches unlikely.

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 and stream holes. Read more about this phenomenon in the link above. It causes several fatalities each year in other ski regions of the globe.


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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.

Danger Aspects

A D2+ sized avalanche from control work yesterday. This same instability exists across all of the start zones in the backcountry today.
The culprit. Graupel at the new snow old snow interface from the most recent storm. This is the current weak layer in the upper levels of the snowpack. It is buried as deep as 4 feet and as shallow as 1 foot in other locations. It is most likely that you will trigger the slab from a shallow location, with the slab propagating deeper in other locations. Today is not a Moderate day, yet a Scary Moderate day. Choose terrain wisely and avoid the large start zones of the North/Northeast facing backcountry bowls of Mount Apharwat.

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