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Cameron Pass Conditions, January 5th

“How strange and wonderful is our home, our earth, with its swirling vaporous atmosphere, its flowing and frozen liquids, its trembling plants, its creeping, crawling, climbing creatures, the croaking things with wings that hang on rocks and sour through the fog, the furry grass, the scaly seas.”

–          Edward Abbey


Derek surfing the good stuff.

D-Rock surfing the good stuff.

I made it up to the pass twice this week and found safe and stellar skiing on both occasions. As everyone knows, this season’s snowpack is delicate and reactive. We have a widespread issue with depth hoar that will likely plague us for months to come, and the complexity of the snowpack can drastically differ from location to location. Digging around on various aspects in different drainages near Cameron Pass I saw very little in common pit to pit. One constant was a large (35-65cm) bed of FC (faceted crystals) beneath various layers of / (Decomposing and fragmented precipitation particles) and + (Precipitation Particles).

Incredible turns on Ptarmigan Run

Incredible turns on Ptarmigan Run

The cold weather, wind, and fresh precipitation of recent weeks has allowed for the consolidation of soft-slab/hard-slab on most aspects above and below tree-line.  While touring use a ski-pole as a probe and poke around the snow beneath you; get a feel for what you’re standing on, dig hasty pits often, and take into account reports of remotely triggered avalanches by parties traveling below and away from the slide area. Also avoid steep terrain; recent slides in the zone have slid at relatively low angles. As always be wary of shooting cracks, settling, and natural avalanche activity: all of which are great indicators that can help you make sound terrain choices while out touring.

My friend Derek and I enjoyed incredible conditions yesterday on South Diamond’s Ptarmigan Run. 35+cm of fresh, dry and light precip unaffected by the wind allowed for my first face-shots of the season. Temperatures remained in the 20s, and while we enjoyed a wind-free day on the N/NE face, we were immediately pummeled by W/NW gale force winds once we crested the summit ridge. We took into account the growing cornice threat on the ridgeline from S. Diamond well over to Montgomery Pass. The recent slides on point 11,588 were visible and we determined the crowns from these large slides were easily 7+ feet in depth – they ran to the ground. Be safe, have fun, and tour wisely.

Here’s some useful links.

CMS RMNP Conditions

Powderbuzz CP-Conditions thread

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