Hiding from the surface hoar

Lizard Range and Flathead

southrockies , Monday 1st March, 2021 8:27PM

Today we wanted to check out what the wind was doing at ridge top, but with so many recent persistent slab avalanches in the Lizard Flathead, we didn’t really want to expose ourselves to avalanche terrain. We chose a route that allowed us to stay on terrain under 30 degrees, without any steep slopes above us. We found that the recent south west wind has been blowing any soft snow into small, reactive wind slabs in exposed areas. We were able to peel the fresher snow off of supported older cornices with ski cuts. At one point we triggered a small pocket of older, deeper wind slab that was sitting on old, cold, faceted snow. Good thing we were in terrain that wasn’t capable of producing more than a size 1 avalanche. Not gonna lie, the skiing wasn’t awesome but the exercise and observations were welcome for a short objective.

Snow conditions were: Crusty, Hard, Powder, Wind affected. Weather conditions were: Cloudy, Warm. We rode: Mellow slopes. We avoided: Steep slopes. Riding quality was ok.

Avalache Conditions: Slab avalanches today or yesterday. Whumpfing or drum-like sounds or shooting cracks.


I was ski cutting the new wind slab (10 cm deep 4 finger hardness) when this pocket of old pencil hard wind slab failed about 50-80 deep right under my feet. Went for a short ride before hopping onto bed surface and self arresting. No injury or gear lost. Definitely deeper than expected and took me by surprise.