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We did some storm skiing on Mt. Brown today, and experienced the full spectrum of weather events. Most notably for snowpack purposes there was a period of graupel at all elevations, which also presented as the primary skiing surface below 5000'. We noted the rain/snow line at between 4700' and 5200'. Although we experienced several inches of a snow/graupel mix at ridgeline above 7000', we were suprised to see graupel at lower elevations, including at the car at 3200'.
Winds were very variable throughout the day, though most often out of the SW. We noted light SW winds below 4000', gusting to moderate up to 5000'. From 5000' to 6200' we noted moderate winds gusting strong, with some shifting winds to the south. Above 6200' we noted strong winds from the SW-S with higher gusts, and noticed moderate to intense blowing snow/graupel. The snowfall intensity varied throughout the day based on time and elevation. During our transition, we noted snowfall intensity at S5+
Anecdotally, we also had multiple lightning strikes with nearby thunder on ridgeline, hastening our descent.
We enjoyed fun storm powder skiing above 5400', sticking to slopes below 30 degrees when possible, and to a mainly SW aspect to avoid our persistent weak layer. Between 5400' and 4800', however surface snow conditions got funky.
We triggered three small wet loose sluffs (D1-R1) within that elevation band, two unintentionally, and one intentionally. They all failed on the old/new snow interface about two inches down, and moved fairly slowly. The location for the largest sluff was west of the Mt. Brown trail, the elevation was about 5000', the aspect was WSW, the slope angle was about 35 degrees. That sluff traveled roughly 75 feet -- I came along for half of it before I could get to the side and get my edges into the bed surface to let it slide past. I've included a picture looking downhill from where I stopped. While a small, slow-moving, and seemingly innocuous sluff, It could have been problematic if there had been trees or deadfall in the path. We believe this was an isolated problem today due to a small elevation rise in the rain/snow line in the afternoon saturating a graupel/snow interface on the old melt freeze surface crust.
Snow cover still exists at all elevations, although some bare spots are starting to show up in the Lake McDonald area below 4000'. Deadfall was becoming visible below 5200', and presents a safety hazard going forward. We dealt with serious glopping on our wet skis and skins from lower elevation on our ascent between 5800' and 7200', making for arduous travel. Above 7200' temperatures were cold enough to avoid this issue.
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