Snow Profiles

Choose three Mount Washington avalanche incidents, and also be sure to reference the archived advisory for that day (selectable from the bottom left of the home page).  For each incident, complete both pages in your AIARE field book for the weather and snow profile observations you might have made had you theoretically been positioned -- safely, by some magical device! -- with the incident members when the avalanche initiated.  Now complete both pages in your AIARE field book for the observations you might have made at the closest safe position.  Highlight the key differences you think might have distinguished these two locations.

Given the incomplete information for each incident, this will entail considerable speculation.  But the major point of this exercise is not to get it exactly right, but to practice your recording skills, and also to think about how conditions can vary from the last reasonably safe point to where an avalanche will be triggered.

Next, complete both pages in your AIARE field book copying over the information from these Tuckerman Ravine snow profiles.  Note that for the first profile, of the cropped-away information, the time is 14:30, aspect 75 degree, elevation 4600', slope incline 34 degrees, and foot pen 1cm ("if that").  For the second, time is 11:50, elevation 4400', aspect 15 degrees, slope incline 33 degrees, precip S2.  Then answer these questions (separately for each profile):
  • What time of year do you think this might be?
  • What weather events (both season-long and more recent) do you think created this snowpack?
  • What do you think about skiing in these conditions?
Also feel free to use this snow profile shareware (or this expensive application if you want to get really carried away), although still enter all the information first in your AIARE field book, so as to practice using that format in the field.
Email your work on both of these assignments to the IOR, and be prepared to discuss your findings at the Fall Session.