Public Observation - Avalanches into Rescue Cr off the Skiumah/Rescue ridge

Location Name: 
Public Observation - Rescue Cr/West valley, Flathead Range
Region: 
Flathead Range - Middle Fork Corridor
Date and time of avalanche (best estimate if unknown): 
Fri, 02/26/2016 - 12:46


Red Flags: 
Rapid warming
Obvious avalanche path

Observation made by: Public
Avalanche Observations
Avalanche Type: 
Wet
Slope: 
38degrees
Trigger type: 
Natural
Aspect: 
East
Weak Layer: 
Other - explain below
Avalanche Width: 
100ft.
Terrain: 
Near Treeline
Elevation: 
5 400ft.
Bed Surface: 
Old Snow
Avalanche Length: 
700ft.
Number of similar avalanches: 
2
More detailed information about the avalanche: 

Skied the west valley of Rescue Cr to the Penrose saddle, then 300 verticle feet up the Penrose ridge. There were old slides in most of the east facing chutes off the Skiumah/Rescue ridge. It was cold in the shade and there was modest surface hoar developing above 5,500 ft on shaded aspects. As soon as I passed through the saddle and started climbing sun effected areas it turned to slush. I descended and found a sunny spot for lunch above the first headwall/waterfall area. At 1249 a Class 3 avalanche [full width of the gully, could have buried a small car] came down a east facing gully in two pulses. The debris pile stopped above the rounded plug that sits in the center of the second headwall area [perhaps an old terminal morraine]. The flow rate was probably faster than a person could ski. I could not see the start point. At 1253 a Class 2 avalanche [could have injured a skier] came down an east facing gully more directly under Mt. Penrose. It was slower, smaller in volume, and did not reach the flat area. I could not see the start point. Earlier a party of four had skied off the top of Penrose down a NE facing slope without issue or incident. The true east facing aspects were in sun for a considerable time so had plenty of time to heat up.

Weather Observations
Blowing Snow: 
No
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Wind Speed: 
Light (Twigs in motion)
Air temperature trend: 
Warming
Wind Direction: 
Southwest
More detailed information about the weather: 

A tale of two cities - cold to cool in the shade, HOT in the sun. Snow went from old powder to corn depending on aspect and elevation. Much wind effect too.

Activity: 
Skiing