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Meteorological Winter is Here!


​It’s o’dark thirty and the thermometer here at home says -2. Yesterday, it was a balmy 3 degrees. Almost two new feet of fresh snow fell on the pass over the last four days. Meteorological, (and real frickin cold and snowy) Winter is solidly in place.

Avy danger following this past storm rose quickly. I experienced a really neat rumbling collapse in safe, low angle terrain on Monday. Regardless, always scary when the cracking and whumphing are widespread. Another robust wave of slides hit the CAIC’s radar. From the statewide summary 12/3:

“Between November 28 and December 2, observers reported 54 avalanches. The most extensive activity was in the North San Juan zone on December 1, when there were nine reported avalanches on northeast–facing slopes. Out of these 54 avalanches, only 7 were human-triggered. We have had no reports of any backcountry recreationalists caught in an avalanche since November 24th.”

Put a hold on that last sentence, friends...We like to buck trends here in the San Juans.

Here’s a near miss from Prospect on the 1st-

And check out this report from Ophir Pass on the 2nd-

Interestingly enough, both of these slides occurred in locations that are considered “less dangerous” (nothing is safe) options when danger is considerable- Prospect dude was just a little too far north of what’s called the Prospect Sneak (left pic) and influenced the wind loaded, center headwall of the bowl. And the Ophir slide (right pic), off a feature we call the Ambassador, is a place I like to take clients when conditions are touchy and I’m guiding out at OPUS- These near misses, next to and below mid-low 30-degree terrain, highlight just how touchy our early season pack is out there. Watch those North thru East aspects, kids! And pay attention to that wind load.

As I mentioned last week, soul turns are where it’s at! Backcountry ski days are stacking up quickly and powder skiing conditions continue to be phenomenal on moderate NTL slopes. It’s amazing to ponder the difference between the utter lack of schralping in 17-18 and the goods that 18-19 has already provided.

Go Git Sum!

My busy season- six months of full time guiding and teaching in the San Juans, has also begun and it’s been great learning and adventuring with new students. To that end, it’s another very busy week. Friends of the San Juans has a Durango event on Tuesday. CAIC fundraiser at Ska on Wednesday. More yurt work and "professional development" skiing precede SAS’s first Rec Level One of the season this weekend.

Looks like another dose of precip later in the week. We’ll take it! Stay safe out there.

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