We have varying snow depths in the high country right now from snowfall on October 13th. Several inches of snow and up to 12 inches of snow exists mainly on northerly aspects above 5,000 feet. Some pockets of snow may linger on other aspects that have shelter from the sun. This two week old snow surface will create a hard and smooth surface for the new snow that is forecast to begin to fall tonight. Cold temperatures will allow the snow to fall cold and light and this will not create a good bond between the two layers. It is important to be tracking these early season layers to know how it will effect our snowpack when the snow is deeper and we begin to venture into avalanche terrain. Human triggered avalanches will be possible in steep northerly terrain where the October snowfall covered the ground enough to bury terain features. Someone already died in an avalanche in Montana in conditions very similar to what may occur in our forecast region later this week. If you not seen the snow coverage in the mountains yet, take a look at this aerial picture from Jeff taken last Friday. Be safe out there a start making a mental record of the season's snowpack and weak layers.
This is a preseason update. IPAC will begin regular avalanche forecasting in mid-December. We have already begun our avalanche class schedule so take a look at our events page or the calendar to see what is coming up. As always, we love hearing what you're seeing out there for snow conditions and avalanche activity. You can call us or submit your observations on our website. Don't forget to check our facebook page since we regularly update that. If you're wanting one stop convenience for weather information check out our weather page. Take the time before winter to go over your avalanche gear and make sure it is all properly functioning. You'll be glad you did.
Avalanche conditions change for better or worse continually. Backcountry travelers should be prepared to assess current conditions for themselves, plan their routes of travel accordingly, and never travel alone. Backcountry travelers can reduce their exposure to avalanche hazards by utilizing timbered trails and ridge routes and by avoiding open and exposed terrain with slope angles of 30 degrees or more. Backcountry travelers should carry the necessary avalanche rescue equipment such as a shovel, avalanche probe or probe ski poles, a rescue beacon and a well-equipped first aid kit. For a recorded version of the Avalanche Advisory call (208)765-7323.