Just a few shots from today up on Mount Mansfield. It was too wet and stormy to fiddle around with the camera much today for fear of destroying our equipment. The official snow fall at the weather station near the summits was 17″ of snow which contained 2.37″ of liquid water (check the weather page to see more details about snowfall statistics by using the tools there). You can do the math to figure out the ratios, but needless to say, this wasn’t quite 2% blower. In fact, I can effectively use just one word to sum up today: WET.
To me it seemed like you couldn’t go more than a few yards without getting your gloves soaked, your goggles covered in glop, and a ball of snow down your neck to start a fresh leak through your pants and into your boots… and of course with this much snow, you can’t go more than a few yards without getting a face shot!
Later on the curmudgeon angrily dropped this cliff.
Apparently it was worth it.
Interestingly enough we found fairly treacherous avalanche conditions in the backcountry today, and set off 3 slides, one of which had the size and trajectory to cause bodily harm. The weak layer appears to have been the low density snow from the weekend (and perhaps the initial precipitation of Patti which was likely lighter than her later precipitation). My working theory is that this low density snow was compressed by the wet snows that fell late last night and today, and this has given us a classical upside down snowpack. Avalanches we triggered today were blocky in nature with 2-3 foot crowns on east facing slopes between 30 and 40 degrees. I suspect that all slopes (of sufficient steepness) with new snows over 20″ pose a potential avalanche risk since there was very little wind loading associated with Patti, and we’re merely talking about a fucton of snow on all aspects. This will likely change as we move into later in the day on Thursday (and into Selma) and winds pick up out of the east.
Despite the scare we had today, everyone was perfectly ok, and we would like to urge all backcountry users to be wary of what’s above and below them out there over the next few days until the energy in this new snow works itself out. Gravity works everywhere–even in Vermont.
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