Montana Bowl avalanche

South Columbia

Demonic Pancake , Thursday 7th January, 2021 5:30PM

I went out with a friend to enjoy the sun and to start assessing what what was going. We had few ideas to look at and maybe checkout the alpine, but no definitive plan, and a good route that allowed lots of safe options. The slack country turned out to be really busy and there were lots of people above us.

Snow conditions were: Crusty, Wind affected, Powder. Weather conditions were: Sunny. We rode: Alpine slopes, Mellow slopes, Open trees. We avoided: Alpine slopes, Steep slopes, Sunny slopes, Convex slopes. Riding quality was good.

Avalache Conditions: 30cm + of new snow, or significant drifitng, or rain in the last 48 hours. Slab avalanches today or yesterday.

Snowpack

The snow pack in Montana looks quite messy. I was doing a hand sheer test before going down from the saddle with goat peak and found that the recent windslabs was sitting on top of facets and a crust. At the same moment we saw a snowboarder trigger and get caught in size 2 avalanche from the top of Montana knob ( details in incident tab) We later went on Kokanee ridge taking the old cat track and had a quick look at Holy Cow. We dug a quick test pit in the start zone and found a nasty turd sandwich of layers. 10-15cm of fresh snow on top of a windslabs about 40ish cm, on top of a another very hard slab about 10-12 cm thick and all that was standing on on top of 3-5cm of facets on top of a crust. That very hard slab could be bridging the whole thing pretty well, but considering how the chute is shaped (didn't wanna tickle those facets from the flanks) , the overhead hazard and , the time of day, a few avalanche occurences... Do I need to say more? We back tracked although there were two tracks in the chute from today and skied some fun trees before heading out.

Incident

1 snowboarder was skiing down the SW slope from the top of Montana and triggered a slab which propagated above him and took him down for a ride. He managed to deploy his airbag and was able to get himself out. We later skied to the guy and he was OK.

Avalanche

Another similar avalanche was on observed in Kokanee Bowl on similar aspect with ski tracks in.

Source: Avalanche Canada MIN