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Our party of two toured in the Skyland area (sub Baldhead/Patrol Ridge) on Wednesday 4/1. During our climb, a skier directly triggered a Persistent slab.
Having skied in this area extensively, I opted to take a different, more direct route to ridgeline, in order to make laps quicker since the snow was good. My partner had never been to the area before, so he had no input. Once above 6200', we experienced a small collapse, and I wasn't exactly sure I had heard one. Nonetheless, I brushed it off having fallen victim to the complacent mindset of our recently stable window. Multiple hand pits revealed a right side up snowpack, with a crust lingering below.
At 6500' on a NE aspect, I had two decisions to make, skirt acoss a very suspect slope (<35*) to gain the ridge, a mere 100 yards away, or continue a very mellow uptrack into thicker timber, and eventually ridgeline. With stiff E winds and cold temps, the sunshine on the ridge tempted me to skirt across the suspect slope. I stomped agressively and had a bad gut feeling about what I was doing, especially since my partner was now below me, but once he cleared the last switchback, I scurried across the slope and made it to ridgeline, awaiting my partner.
As he followed the uptrack, I heard chatter below me and knew something had gone awry. A D2 persistent slab (18" crown) had broken 100' wide, and ran 300' vertical covering our skin track below with debris 3-5' deep. Fortunately, the slab broke on the skin track, not above, and my partner was left standing on the bed surface in awe. The snow directly above the crust was dense (1F hardness), that dovetailed into lovely, light density snow at the surface. This persistent slab slid on small grain facets atop mentioned crust.
Perhaps it's been too long since I was humbled by the snow, as complacency and heuristics won me over on this "April fools day". Ironically, no other signs of instabiltiy were noted around the area with good visiblity. We skied a similar aspect (NE), with a much lower angle, gladed, and along a slight ridgeline feature.
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