Strength and Stability Tests

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Strength and Stability Tests

Postby Jasper » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:44 pm

Hello from Silverton Colorado,

It seems that folks, particularly in the Santa Fe area, are spending some time doing some tests on the snowpack. I want to supply you with some resources so that you can get the best information possible.

Here are some video tutorials from the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center for doing compression tests, extended column tests, choosing locations, and digging performing a full profile:
https://www.mtavalanche.com/stabilitytests

The American Avalanche Association (A3) provides a document 'Snow Weather and Avalanche Observation Guidelines' (SWAG) which gives directions for how to perform and record tests and observations:
https://www.americanavalancheassociation.org/swag/
While you are at it consider becoming a supporter of the A3 and getting a subscription to 'The Avalanche Review'. It is a great publication that you will get four times a winter with the latest and greatest in avalanche science, education, and heuristics.

A few notes:
When performing these tests do not use muscle to hit your shovel. Simply let your wrist, forearm, or whole arm fall under the force of gravity. If your hand hurts you are probably hitting to hard.

The tests are based on 10 taps from each joint leading to a maximum of 30 taps.

If sharing the tests; they mean nothing without a location that includes elevation and aspect. Elevation can be Below Treeline, Near Treeline, or Above Treeline, as well as a numerical value from a GPS or topo map. Aspect should be one of eight directions N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW.

MOST IMPORTANTLY! Remember these tests should never be used to verify that a slope is safe to travel on. They should be used to verify that a slope is not safe to travel on. If you are considering travel in avalanche terrain you need much more evidence than strength tests to do so safely.

Local avalanche forecast is a great place to start. Unfortunately that does not exist in New Mexico. Stay tuned for a new tool that can be used for determine the avalanche hazard without a professional forecast.

The best place to start is with a avalanche awareness or level 1 class. You may be able to enroll in one of these in New Mexico, or you could make a trip to the San Juan Mountains were numerous providers are available.
Go when the going is good.
Jasper
 
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Location: Silverton

Re: Strength and Stability Tests

Postby Bob » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:59 pm

Nice post. How's life in Silverton?
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Re: Strength and Stability Tests

Postby Jasper » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:26 pm

It's cold, the beer is overpriced, but the skiing is pretty good. It has been an active avalanche year so far with lots of activity in the D2 range on NW-N-SE aspects. Most activity has been on NE and E. How is Santa Fe shaking up? I caught a nice lap of pencil hard windslab skiing in Nambe in early November.
Go when the going is good.
Jasper
 
Posts: 76
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:51 am
Location: Silverton

Re: Strength and Stability Tests

Postby Bob » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:21 pm

I've been out of circulation for a couple weeks, so I'm not up to date. But there was a pretty persistent crust most everywhere about 18 inches down back then.
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