Public Observation - Essex Mountain, Flathead Range

Location Name: 
Public Observation - Essex Mountain, Flathead Range
Flathead Range - Middle Fork Corridor
Date and time of observation: 
Fri, 03/18/2016 - 10:30
Location Map: 

Observation made by: Public
Snowpit Observations
More detailed information about the snowpack: 

I found the robust late Feb crust 60cm from the surface with 5cm of  .5mm facets and rounding facets sitting on top of it.  On the way up, skin track tests identified a 15-20cm F hardness slab over a graupel layer, and this would produce minor cracking around turns in some locations. The snow surface near the summit had 2mm surface hoar.  At 6500' on a 35 degree N-facing sparsely timbered slope well below the ridge I dug a 120cm test profile.  Test results:  CTM Q3 at 15cm on graupel, score 15.  ECTX.  However, with the additional loading step of a kick from my boot I produced a fracture at 60cm that propagated across the whole column in the facets above the late Feb. crust.  The 60 cm slab above the late Feb. crust consisted of a layer cake of pencil hard cursts with F and 4F snow sandwiched between.  Found excellent skiing in the trees on 30 degree slopes.  Observed a few tracks in much steeper terrain, but saw no sign of avalanche activity on the N-facing slopes above Marion Creek.

Snowpack photos: 
Any other comments about the observation or links to outside pages that have more info on the observation: 

Toured  the NE-facing ridge on Essex Mountain Thursday and Friday mornings.  Only recent natural avalanche activity observed was the debris below a steep N-facing chute on peak 7854 (photo).    Enjoyed boot-top powder that was well-bonded to the most recent 1cm rain crust.  Ski cut slopes up to 40 degrees on N and E aspects with no results.   Observed four sets of tracks in  "Backdoor Chute," some on the shady side, some in the more sun-exposed gullet.   Only very minor sluffing associated with these tracks, and the only slides triggered were D 1 wet snow slabs and point releases in the steep, rocky exit below 4800'.  As of 11:00 Friday there still was no significant loose snow avalanche activity on any of the steep slopes on 7798 or Marion Ridge.   Skied the ridge and some 30-35 degree N-facing slopes to the creek/trail.  Out before noon both days.

Weather Observations
Cloud Cover: 
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Air temperature trend: 
More detailed information about the weather: 

Thursday morning saw light NE winds at the summit of Essex Mountain with scattered clouds.  Friday morning was clear and calm.  At 0900 it was 10 degrees F in the shade at 6800'.   At 10:30 it was 15 degrees F in the shade at 6500'.  At 11:30 it was 28 degrees F in Essex. 

High Temp. (C): 
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