Taos Region

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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:13 pm

Storm totals ranged from 8 to 14 inches by midnight <22.25 hours ago. Don't have much info, will add some after we get out to check things out. Lots of small, natural and skier triggered releases were observed and reported by inbounds riders yesterday.
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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:31 pm

Lots of snow blowing around on the ridges today, westerly winds and spiraling, upwards movement lifting snow into the atmosphere, the kind of action that creates small clouds from moving snow. I had to work inbounds the past couple days so didn't get out to tour anywhere, but can say all the reports of small slides were pretty accurate, maybe even a bit understated. The West Basin chutes were all sluffed out top to bottom yesterday, looked like some patrollers got into High Somewhere today and layed down a couple nice tracks after skitching through the upper sections. Talking with a patroller and a couple people who have been skiing through the weekend storm the reactive layers are the Halloween storm snow and previous layers, some slides (including a controlled slide up to 6' deep in Nino's) ran to the ground, or close enough for grass and rocks to become exposed.

All the Finger Chutes and Peace sign are filled in but have that gnarly, risk-it-if-you-dare look to them. Obvious windslabs are present on Kachina, rolling waves and light-dark-light drifts are moving around like sand dunes, the snow is cold and air temps have been below freezing above 10k.
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Re: Taos Region

Postby JBella » Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:49 pm

Significant wind event yesterday and through this morning. Southwesterly winds were intermittently strong on Wheeler's northwest slopes and throughout the region after noon yesterday, transporting snow onto NW-NE aspects. After a lull in activity just after sunset it picked up again around 11 as snowfall became widespread. 3-5 inches fell and the winds decreased after 3am. Bitter cold wind chills today though ambient temps are hovering around freezing in the lower elevations and in the teens up high.

The past few days I've been digging around various sites and finding similar conditions an all aspects near and below treeline - before yesterday and last night's weather event snowpack depths ranged from 2 to 3.5' comprised of a mix of advanced-stage facets in the bottom half of the snowpack and light dry soft slabs in the upper half. On the west side of Wheeler isolated 1f windslabs were present yesterday. In some areas on SE-NW aspects around 11k there is also a brittle suncrust in the middle of the snowpack above a layer of compressed surface hoar. Column and compression tests have been showing easy failures within a 3-4" layer of 1.5-2.5mm irregular facets on the ground. Minimal propagation characteristics in the upper layers indicate seemingly strong bonds which may create an illusion of stability, as soon as these slabs are isolated they are collapsing into the depth hoar easily.

These are tricky conditions to navigate. Previously known instabilities are still present, now with a heavier load affecting the snowpack dynamics. Crowns of recent slides were spotted on Kachina's east side a few days ago, yesterday we could see where the debris had piled up near the bottom of the apron and the fracture lines had been drifted over and disappeared. Not a lot of natural avalanches or instabilities have been seen since the December 2nd event, it's tricky to designate a specific avalanche potential rating without more thorough analyses and information, my opinion based on my own observations is it's somewhere in the upper moderate level on most aspects near treeline, with isolated pockets of higher potential on West through East aspects near and above treeline (obvious starting zones) and isolated steep pitches on shaded and cold Northeast and East aspects below treeline. Any open slopes, convex rollovers, and terrain beneath cornices and other windloaded features should be approached with diligence and caution, if at all.
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