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Public Observation - Ouzel Peak to Skiumah, Flathead Range
Public Observation - Ouzel Peak to Skiumah Creek Tour
Flathead Range - Middle Fork Corridor
Date and time of observation:
Thu, 02/25/2016 - 12:00
Spent the day chasing the sun and staying in the shade, toured from Ouzel Peak on over to Skiumah creek.
Lower elevation snow is disappearing rapidly. Bare spots on the Ouzel trail and the Skiumah trail is getting worn pretty thin. 4500' and up is still holding up fairly well.
Winds were of the usual prevailing westerlies. Winds from Tuesday/Wednesday on the east side of the Middle Fork divide were variable, anywhere from northwest to easterly, and moved a fair amount of snow around.
So accordingly snow conditions varied from soft wind affected snow, hard wind slab, exposed rain crust, sun crust.......
Temps warmed up to above freezing in the lower elevations. Higher up solar radiation was causing roller balls and the snow surface was moist in sun exposed areas up to 7000'.
We did find a large amount of surface hoar up to 1.5cm on a variety of aspects, elevations(all above 5500'). It was really variable in its distribution (see pictures), once it gets buried it will be a guessing game on where is lays hidden beneath any new snow. For example we found large areas of surface hoar on a wide array of slopes, north/east aspects in the Deerlick Creek drainage, but found little in the Skiumah drainage (lots of wind in there).
We neither encountered nor witnessed any signs of snow instability. We did see quit a few old avalanches (over a week old) that had new snow over them, most of these appeared to be triggered by failing cornices. We also saw several glide cracks opening up on a variety of aspects and elevations.
We did find good snow, but it was somewhat of a guessing game. We skied steeper lines, up to 40*, in the alpine off of the ridge tops and peaks.