Forecaster Observation -Backcountry outside Whitefish Mountain Resort, Whitefish Range

Location Name: 
Forecaster Observation -Backcountry outside Whitefish Mountain Resort, Whitefish Range
Whitefish Range - Southern (south of Coal Creek)
Date and time of observation: 
Tue, 11/29/2016 - 12:00
Location Map: 

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

The focus of our tour was to determine upper elevation snow pack layering and depth, snow surface composition and snow pack stability on a variety of aspects. We chose the backcountry immediately east of the WMR ski area due to its relatively easy and safe access during this low snow pack period.

We dug snow pits on 2 sunny aspects (east and southeast) and one shaded aspect (north) between 6300-6500 feet. Snow pack depths ranged from 60 cm on a east aspect, 64 cm on a southeast aspect and 79 cm on the north aspect.   

  • All aspects above 5500' had a thin (<1 cm) layer of recently formed surface hoar (2-4 mm) on the snow surface.
  • All aspects had an ice mass that constituted the basal layer of the snow pack. This layer ranged in thickness from 10 cm on an east aspect to 42 cm on a north aspect. This layer was knife hard on sunny aspects but only 1F hard on shaded aspects. On shaded aspects this layer also contained 2 thin (1-2 cm) layers of soft (4F) facets sandwiched between the ice. 
  • Sunny aspects showed a 2 cm sun crust (1F) located 1-2 cm below the snow surface. This likely formed during the sunny and well above average temperatures that we experienced on Saturday (11/26).
  • A relatively homogenous layer of soft (4F) snow formed the mid pack in all 3 pits. 

Stability test results for sunny aspects:

  • Easy failure occurred immediately below the near surface sun crust. ECTN 2,3,3 and CT 2,2,3 Quality 2
  • The mid pack was bonded well to the basal ice layer and no other results were observed during our tests.

Stability test results for shaded aspect:

  • We observed failure in one of the thin faceted layers within the ice mass. ECTN 24,25 and CT 22,23,23 Quality 2. This was located 35 cm above the ground and 44 cm below the surface. 
Snowpit or crown profile photo or graph: 
Snowpack photos: 
Weather Observations
Cloud Cover: 
25% of the sky covered by clouds
Air temperature: 
Below Freezing
Air temperature trend: